Go Magazine

January 2018

Go Magazine

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27 Fort Macon will ring in the New Year with the blast of five of its gunpowder-filled cannons at the state park in Atlantic Beach. The cannon firing is becoming a tradition at the former military compound, with the event in its fourth year on New Year's Eve. "On New Year's Eve, at dark, we do a New Year's Eve obser- vance, and what we do is we have five cannons, and we fire a salute to the end of the year and the start of the new year," said Paul Branch, Fort Macon State Park ranger. "The big guns are on top of the fort. When these guns fire, there's a 6 to 8 feet sheet of flame and a big cloud of smoke." The cannons will be shot in sequence, at 7 p.m., after a New Year's Eve countdown. The event will be held to coincide to mid- night on Greenwich Mean Time, which is 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. "It's the first time zone of the Western hemisphere," Branch said. Visitors are encouraged to be at the park between 6 ad 6:30 p.m., prior to the cannon firing. Live music is planned by Gumbo Lily, a local band, and blankets or chairs can be set up in the public viewing area located along the outer wall of the fort. A large projector screen will display a clock on top of the fort that will count down to 7 p.m. The cannons, which are replicas of cannons used at the fort in the 19th century, will fire promptly at 7 p.m. Gunpowder will be used, and the cannons will fire in a safe direction away from the crowds, Branch said. "They are loud," he said. Four of the cannons are 32 pounders and each will fire off 3 pounds of gunpowder. The largest, an 8-inch Columbiad cannon, will shoot a 5-pound gunpowder charge, Branch said. Even though it will be dark at 7 p.m., temporary lights will be set up. "They'll see the cannons fire," he said. There is no cost to attend the family-friendly event. No alcohol is allowed. "It's a free event, although donations are accepted to help with the cost of the gunpowder," he said. "This is our final program at the end of the year, 2017. We're always trying to come up with new programs to support the park and bring out the public." The New Year's Eve observance is increasing in popularity, with nearly 1,500 people attending the event in 2016, Branch said. Information about the history of Fort Macon State Park can be found at www.friendsoffortmacon.org. Fort Macon will ring in 2018 with a blast — five of them to be exact. Fort Macon State Park draws hundreds of visitors each year for its New Year's Eve celebration. At 7 p.m., five gunpowder-filled cannons are shot in sequence to ring in the new year. a new year BLAST Story by Rochelle Moore

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