Cheap gas, good weather make for pleasant holiday

Contact Reporterwwright@vagazette.com

Regardless of whether they are visiting the Historic Triangle for the history, to partake in the amusement parks, or simply visit family, travelers are expected to experience ideal conditions this Independence Day weekend.

The combination of cheap gas and beautiful weather is good news for the owners of the area's attractions and the people visiting them.

Here's what to expect this holiday weekend:

Gas prices

Gas is cheaper now than at the same point in recent years. Nationally, gallon costs $2.28 on average, one of the lowest for any year on record.

A gallon of unleaded gas is even cheaper in the Williamsburg area. Prices range from $1.91 at a BP on Ironbound Road to $1.99 at a 7-11 on Longhill Road.

"It's been a long time since we've seen the price this low," said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst at a Boston-based tech company called GasBuddy.

DeHaan did warn that prices could rise shortly after the holiday as a result of nuances in supply and demand.

"Back in November, OPEC cut oil production because oil prices were too low" he said. "The increase in price prompted US producers to ramp up their own production. Oil prices started plummeting in late May, but it will bottom out soon."

Karen Riordan, the president and CEO of the Greater Williamsburg Tourism and Chamber Alliance, said that while her organization can't predict how many people with come to the area, they are excited about what could be a lucrative weekend.

"Gas being under $2 a gallon is usually a good indicator," she said. "It looks like many of our visitors will get what is effectively a four-day weekend."

Weather

Lyle Alexander, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service's Wakefield office, said travelers might see some rain in the Williamsburg area.

"We're transitioning from a drier period to more a typical summer regime with more humidity," he said. "There may be some scattered thunderstorms on Saturday."

Weather heading into the holiday should not interfere with holiday plans. People planning to have cookouts and watch fireworks should be able to do so, Alexander said.

"Monday and Tuesday look dry for the most part," he said. "It's pretty good overall."

Riordan said the weather is a concern, particularly during a holiday with its fair share of outdoor activities.

"The one thing we can't control is the weather," she said. "We're hoping we don't see too much rain this weekend."

The high during the weekend, Alexander said, could be as high as 90 degrees.

Fireworks

Colonial Williamsburg has planned a free fireworks show as part of its Independence Day celebration on the Palace Green.

Busch Gardens, located in James City County, also has a fireworks show planned for the evening.

People in York County will have a chance to see fireworks over the York River at 9:20 p.m. The display is free to all visitors.

Holiday revelers should leave the fireworks displays to the professionals because they are dangerous and illegal.

"Each year, thousands of people are injured from using consumer fireworks," said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy at the National Fire Protection Association. "Even sparklers, which are often thought of as harmless enough for children to hold, burn at 1,200 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause significant injuries."

Professional fireworks displays require a permit from the James City County fire marshal. The use or possession of fireworks is otherwise illegal in James City County.

Anyone found with fireworks can be charged with a misdemeanor, find themselves spending 12 months in jail and may also have $2,500 fine levied against them, according the James City county code.

"There are fireworks planned at Colonial Williamsburg, in Yorktown, and at Busch Gardens," Riordan said. "We're looking forward to what we think will be a pretty good weekend."

Wright can be reached by phone at 757-345-2343.

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