Illegal fireworks fly, 
cops curb a few

“We interrupted their show, so to speak.”

Sgt. Mike Jones, who heads the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office Anna Maria substation, said the July 4 holiday, including the parade, festival and fireworks “went exceptionally well,” but for one incident on the beach.

Revelers without a permit “brought attention” to themselves at Coconut and Gulf Drive on the beach, Jones said, where MCSO deputies caught them shooting illegal fireworks in the dunes and ordered them to stop. They did and there was no seizure, he added.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer also reported enforcement of illegal fireworks.

He said police were alerted by a complaint and observed a group of celebrants launching fireworks too close to children. He said officers confiscated 12-13 boxes of fireworks.

“We had a large crowd and everybody behaved,” Tokajer said, adding medical calls for heat exposure became a primary concern on the holiday as the heat index was predicted to reach 112 degrees.

Illegal fireworks were launched up and down the beach in Bradenton Beach, but no one complained.

BBPD enforces the fireworks laws, according to Detective Sgt. Lenard Diaz, only if calls about the pyrotechnic displays are dispatched to the officers.

Diaz also said two kayakers were brought to safety by a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission rescue boat. Their kayak capsized near the Longboat Pass Bridge and the men floated near the bridge pylons until FWC arrived, he added.

BBPD, HBPD and MCSO reported thousands of visitors and no arrests July 4.

West Manatee Fire Rescue inspector Rodney Kwiatkowski said there were “a few hiccups,” which delayed the start of the permitted fireworks display on the beach at the Sandbar Restaurant, 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria.

He said a number of boats encroached on the setback required for the display — “coming too close to shore for our comfort.”

A security line keeps people a distance of 420-feet from the fireworks, Kwiatkowski said, adding the “sheriff got on its bullhorn” and instructed the boats to motor farther from shore.

They did. And the show went on.

“It was safe,” Kwiatkowski said, adding, “Was it long enough? You be the judge.”

The Sandbar pyrotechnic display on the Fourth was abbreviated — a mistake by the fireworks company — but the company and Sandbar management arranged a bigger show for July 5 and WMFR, MCSO and the city permitted the followup show.

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