Heavy crowds, no major problems for holiday

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This year’s Fourth of July, although filled with the sounds of fireworks, seemed quieter than years past, thanks in part to preparation and execution by the three city governments and volunteer agencies.

The Fourth of July is a holiday when mainlanders come out to watch the fireworks at the Sandbar restaurant and on the beach. Anything that explodes and/or flies is illegal, and in recent years, law enforcement has increased enforcement efforts through arrests and confiscation. This year, the only agency to confiscate fireworks was the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office patrolling the city of Anna Maria.

In Bradenton Beach, they had to deal with the traffic but one officer said while there were illegal fireworks going off, they did not make any arrests due to a lack of personnel.

Holmes Beach Police Chief Bill Tokajer said they did not confiscate any fireworks as they did in previous years and people mainly obeyed the law.

“We made a couple of arrests but generally, they were well-behaved,” he said. “There was a lot of traffic, but they kept it moving.”

He said planning made the containment of trash on the streets and beaches easier.

“Waste Management made extra pickups and they sent out an empty dumpster so public works could empty the overflowing trash cans at the beach street ends,” he said. “Public Works, Keep Manatee Beautiful and Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch organized a cleanup the next day.”