Jul 2, 2010 6:37 PM by Greg Boyce
DAUPHIN ISLAND, Ala. (AP) - The Fourth of July is looking uncharacteristically glum for much of the Gulf Coast. Rather than crowds of sunbathers, the white-sand beaches are dotted with cleanup workers, booms and sand-sifting equipment.
Many businesses are fighting the misperception that every stretch of beach is coated in oil. At Florida's Pensacola Beach, about 1,300 BP employees and county crews work overnight to clean whatever oil washes up at high tide -- and by most mornings, the tourist sections are largely clean of stains.
Hotels are normally heavily booked this time of year, but the owner of a Hampton Inn in says he's only 70 percent occupied, despite reducing room rates heavily. Julian MacQueen says, "July is starting to look like a total disaster," Tar is staining the beaches in Alabama's Bayou La Batre and Dauphin Island, where the spill is threatening many livelihoods. Both communities have canceled their fireworks displays this Fourth.