During December, as the year wraps up, your Town Council has gift-giving on its mind. The presents are tied with Accommodations Tax “bows.” Though Council ultimately votes on the amounts and recipients, these funds are actually a gift to Hilton Head Island, delivered to us from our overnight visitors who’ve spent a night or more enjoying our island. Of course, in return for that gift (what’s December without returns?) we provide hospitality to over 2.5 million tourists a year.
With all the other lists we create this month, I want to itemize some of the organizations and celebrations that benefit from ATAX funding. But first, let’s recognize that legislation creating this gift-giving was born of the efforts of the esteemed South Carolina Representative from Beaufort County, the late Harriet Keyserling. She brought her passion for the arts and effective government into the public realm to secure a bright future for each. Upon her passing, U.S. Representative Jim Clyburn said: “She believed wholeheartedly in public service and served as a remarkable example of how one person can make a significant difference in their community. She was one of a kind. …” One of a kind—a fitting characterization of her extraordinary efforts.
Now the list. If you love art, live or still, loud or soft or somewhere in between, then there’s the Art League exhibits and the performances at the Arts Center of Coastal Carolina, the Choral Society and the Dance Theater. Offerings from Lean Ensemble, the Main Street Youth Theater and the Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra are certain to satisfy.
How about some fireworks? The Harbour Town Merchants Association, the Shelter Cove Harbour Company and Skull Creek make certain our skies light up at night, especially on the Fourth of July! And festivals and parades? The St. Patrick’s Day Parade, the David M. Carmines Memorial Foundation, the Hilton Head Island Recreation Association, Wine and Food, Inc., and the Native Island Business & Community organizations fill our calendars with unique opportunities to gather together—often around food.
Is history your passion? Do you love our museums? Then stop by and learn at the Gullah Museum, Mitchelville, the Coastal Discovery Museum and the Heritage Library. Kids of all ages love the Sandbox, our local children’s museum.
Looking for a timeless, classic car? Or boat? Or plane? Then attend the Concours d’Elegance. And if its venue gives you the urge to hit the links, then check out the Lowcountry Golf Course Owners Association or the First Tee, where you can play golf traditionally or throw a disc instead!
The Boys & Girls Club will entice you to pedal the island and beyond, and finally, the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton Chamber of Commerce makes certain that every day here in paradise is a “Chamber of Commerce Day.”
There’s even some money remaining for our town to provide fire and police services to ensure the safety of event guests. This December that may amount to about $1.4M.
So, when you are out and about this season, take the time to ask some of these organizations about the impact ATAX makes in their businesses, and by extension, our lives. And remember, life itself is a gift. Let us all use our own to have a positive impact on others.
Well, that’s a wrap! Happy December. See you next year!