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Attendance at Long Island parks drops on July 4 weekend

Attendance at Long Island parks dropped 5.3 percent for the July 4 weekend, primarily because of the cancellation of Independence Day fireworks at Jones Beach.

Overall park visits statewide were up an average of 6 percent, continuing a trend of higher attendance this season.The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation said nearly 1.9 million people visited the 178 parks and 35 historic sites last weekend. "As temperatures soared, so did park visitation," Commissioner Carol Ash said.

But on the Island, the three-day attendance dipped from 710,566 last year to 672,678. Jones Beach dropped from 323,316 to 217,499, and on July Fourth it was 83,000 compared to 252,000 last year.

Fireworks at Jones Beach were canceled for the first time in 15 years when the state budget crisis resulted in a lack of park police officers for the event.

Parks regional director Ronald Foley said the local decrease "is mostly attributable to the fireworks." Officials said it would be at least January before a decision could be made on any pyrotechnics next summer.

Attendance last weekend was up at all other beach parks, including Heckscher, Orient Beach, Robert Moses, Sunken Meadow, Wildwood and Hither Hills.

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