Officials preparing for busy Fourth of July weekend in St. Joe

NOW: Officials preparing for busy Fourth of July weekend in St. Joe


ST. JOSEPH, Mi. -- St. Joe hasn't had its annual fireworks display in two years, and the talk around town is that this year could be its biggest yet. 

“It’s been forever since we’ve had the Fourth of July fireworks, so I’m expecting everybody to come down and enjoy the show!” said Jodi Ballard, a local visiting Silver Beach. 

But big crowds can bring chaos.

Holiday celebrations at Silver Beach have brought with them fistfights and even gunshots in the past. A large fight broke out in 2015, leading to five teenagers being arrested, and a fight over Memorial Day weekend in 2018 had to be broken up with pepper spray.

While no one has been killed or seriously injured, its made public safety officials cautions, as they expect to see big crowds all weekend long.

Director of Public Safety Steve Nuebecker isn't sure what those crowds will bring, but he said they'll be prepared for anything. 

“On July third, we’ll have all of our officers working. We’ll have all of our reserve units working. We’ve contacted the Michigan State Police, they’re bringing in two, six-man bicycle units, and the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department will have Silver Beach heavily staffed," Nuebecker said. 

He hopes the crowds won't be too rowdy, but Nuebecker said the extra police are also going to do what they can to help keep people safe from other hazards on the beach, such as drownings or heat stroke. 

“In years past we’ve had several of those calls, but we’ll handle them efficiently and effectively," Nuebecker said. "Medic One does a great job in our community to be on scene quickly.”

Locals and visitors alike hope that the Fourth of July celebrations go safely for everyone involved. 

“I think that the police are doing a really good job helping with the security, so I’m hoping that there will not be any more issues," said Ballard.

Jamie Dixon, visiting Silver Beach from Melbourne, Australia said “I think we all just need to take care of each other, maybe not drink too much alcohol, and just have a good time with your friends.”

Nuebecker added: “I’m just hoping that if anyone sees anything, they say something immediately and report anything they see immediately to us so we can take care of the situation.”

The St. Joe fireworks show is happening on July 3, which is the same day that South Haven, MI and Baroda, MI are hosting their shows, which Nuebecker believes could possibly help cut down on the large number of visitors to town. 

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