Nantucket’s most popular beaches were busy over the Fourth of July holiday, but the crowds were not overwhelming, and Nantucket’s public safety agencies reported a relatively tame 24 hours around the island.
There were no arrests on Monday, the Fourth of July holiday, according to Nantucket Police Department Lt. Angus MacVicar. That may be partly due to the fact that the police department modified the approach it has taken in recent years. While the department was prepared to respond to any beach in the event of an emergency, MacVicar said, this year’s plan did not call for establishing checkpoints at beaches like Nobadeer and 40th Pole as it had done in the past.
“We didn’t have the staff we had in the past - between NPD and the State Police - that would safely manage those checkpoints,” MacVicar said.
There were two State Police Troopers that took the ferry over to the island Monday morning to support NPD, a significantly smaller number than the dozen or more that had come in prior years.
By the time the town’s lifeguards got to the stands at Nobadeer and 40th around 10 a.m., there were already thousands of people and hundreds of cars on the beaches. By 11:30 a.m., Nantucket police announced that 40th Pole had “reached capacity” and prohibited further vehicle access. Nobadeer reached capacity just before 2:30 p.m. and was similarly shut down to additional cars.
“We shut the beach access off simply because it couldn’t support any more vehicles,” MacVicar said. “It was not that it was overrun, there just wasn’t enough beach to support any more vehicles entering safely. It was a very busy day, and when it’s beautiful out, it’s the perfect combination so they filled up very quickly and we shut it off.
“Everywhere was busy,” MacVicar added. “All the beaches were busy from Children’s to Nobadeer to Cisco and Sconset, as we would expect them to be on July 4th and on a beautiful day. But there was no one large group of behavioral issues to address. That’s the trend we’ve seen over the past four years and we hope to see that continue.”
Throughout the night of July 4 and the early morning hours of July 5, Nantucket Police responded to 10 noise complaints, six of which were found to have “substantial parties” that were addressed with the occupants of the residences.
MacVicar noted one call for a large party that was building at Clarks Cove, along the south shore, where police broke up a gathering of 100 to 150 “younger people,” most of who fled the area when officers arrived.
A group of five of the juveniles were recognized by police and remained to clean up the area of the party, put the fire out, and empty bottles and cans of alcohol.
“Their parents were called and we transferred the juveniles over to their parents,” MacVicar said, adding that the group was not made up of local residents.
The Nantucket Fire Department was also busy on the Fourth of July, responding to 30 calls. Deputy Fire Chief Sean Mitchell said the department responded to 95 total calls for service from Saturday, July 2 through Monday.
“Nothing out of the ordinary with these calls, just with more people here there are just more calls,” Mitchell said. “Ninety-five calls for service across three days is certainly extremely busy for us though. I would say it was pretty typical of a big weekend like this. We probably added another 12 to 15 calls because of the storm but other than that, these extremely busy weekends result in a number of calls like this.”
Mitchell said his department responded to 46 calls on Saturday alone, the day of the storm.
On Monday, NFD responded to two confirmed fireworks complaints with addresses.
“Other than those two, it is just very difficult to pinpoint where the fireworks are coming from without an address,” Mitchell said. “At that point it comes down to just keeping your eyes out for more fireworks and being prepared.”
Mitchell said fire prevention officer Joe Townsend was out doing some fire prevention inspections throughout the weekend and was out Monday night assisting the department
with their responses to the firework complaints.
On the water
Nantucket Harbormaster Sheila Lucey reported no major incidents in the harbor, but her crew of lifeguards responded to their fair share of incidents over the holiday. From July 1 through July 4, the town’s lifeguards recorded a headcount of 27,430 people at the nine island beaches where they are stationed. They had 4,212 “public contacts” including 1,428 “prevention/education” interactions with beachgoers, along with 34 minor first aid incidents and three rescues. Lucy reported the following specific incidents that occurred on July 4th:
- Codfish Park: Man pulled out of water near Codfish Park. Sconset lifeguards responded after receiving report through dispatch 911 call. Transferred care to NFD.
- 40th Pole: 6 year old male vomiting in parking lot. Parents approached lifeguards and requested ambulance. Transferred care to NFD.
- Nobadeer Beach: Lifeguards requested NPD assistance for a physical altercation between two women. NPD responded.
- Nobadeer Beach: Lifeguards performed three rescues for patrons in rip currents.
- Two unconfirmed shark sightings. One was identified as a seal, the other was identified as a sunfish.
Assistant airport manager Noah Karberg said that while the Fourth of July is one of the busiest weekends of the year, the Fourth itself is generally quiet. There were 1,000 outbound passengers on Monday from Nantucket Memorial Airport, an uptick from what is generally 500-600 for the airport on Independence Day.
“I attribute that to where the Fourth of July fell,” he said. “Usually passenger counts in the middle of the week would be 500-600. A lot of people still left the island on the Fourth. Fuel sales were also relatively low, which is also typical on the Fourth since people aren’t traveling.”
The airport sold 12,000 gallons of jet fuel on Monday, which was similar to what they sold last year and slightly above their 2020 sales.
But the airport was unable to capitalize on the heavy traffic coming in this weekend after their fuel farm went offline. Karberg said he estimates the airport lost $60,000 from the 18-hour stretch where they were unable to sell fuel. He added that the loss will be even higher when factoring in the fallout effect that will be felt in the coming days.
“You have to think about what happened and how people were traveling once they learned about what was going on with our fuel farm,” he said. “They would have heard on July 2 that we weren’t selling fuel and if they were coming for a few days, they would arrive on Nantucket with enough fuel for the return trip.”
Karberg said he believes the holiday weekend was slightly slower than normal. He said the airport experienced no major operational issues or concerns on Monday.
“What I can say is we are expecting it to remain busy for the remainder of the week as people leave from extended trips,” he said. “We should have a better idea of how the weekend went after all these numbers are in from (Tuesday) and the remainder of the week.”