Eating It All Up: Festivities Celebrate Fourth of July
BY KIRSTEN BALLARD, SARAH BROWN
A Hot, But Festive Fourth of July in Moore County
Moore County residents and visitors to the area experienced hotter weather than usual for this year's Fourth of July holiday, but the heat didn't deter local celebrations held in the area.
AND ANDREW SOBOEIRO
Thousands of Moore County residents and visitors alike, many donning red, white and blue, came out Wednesday to celebrate the Fourth of July in grand style.
A day full of festivities began early with the the Patriot 5k at Pinecrest High School, which benefited Operation One Voice and the Pinecrest cross country teams, and ended with a big bang — the traditional fireworks displays in Aberdeen and Pinehurst.
In between, there was something to suit nearly everyone’s tastes. Celebrations and other events took place in Aberdeen, Carthage, Pinebluff and Pinehurst.
It was red, white and blue everywhere in Carthage, as the oldest continuous Independence Day parade in Moore County passed through town.
Scouts bearing the colors stepped off to lead the 77th Carthage Fourth of July parade. The Union Pines marching band — taking time off from summer vacation — followed with “Yankee Doodle Dandy” and John Phillip Sousa’s rousing marches.
Political leaders, including state Rep. Jamie Boles and Clerk of Superior Court Susan Hicks, perched in open-top convertibles, smiling and waving. The collection of vehicles ranged from riding lawn mowers festooned with American flags and tri-colored streamers to the usual long line of honking, blaring firetrucks.
The crowd along the parade route was a flag-waving sea of people as floats, tractors, horses, mules, buggies, jalopies and more journeyed up Monroe Street to downtown Carthage and then around the old courthouse.
Everybody cheerfully complained of the heat, but all smiled and waved. Kids scrambled for candy tossed by firefighters from their red cabs.
Festivities in Pinehurst began in the morning with a parade that was led off by the pets. For some, the parade is a chance to show off their exotic dogs.
“We’ve done this for at least three years,” Molly Hipp said. “We have unusual dogs, so we need different categories. This year we’re entering our Puli, Polly, and this is her puppy, but he’s not being entered because he’s asocial. Then we have Macy. We wish we had a ‘Most Unusual Dog’ award, because she really doesn’t fit any of the categories.”
“We don’t have any dogs, but we are entering a turtle,” James Grimes said. “I have no idea what he’s running for — everything?”
Others viewed the parade as entertainment, preferring to watch others than to enter.
“I come every year, and it’s the same chaos every year,” Terri Spoonhour said.
For some, the pet parade represents an introduction to the area.
“We just moved here from Texas,” Kelly Loup said. “We’re gonna see what Pinehurst has to offer.”
There was no shortage of fun for the entire family as the festivities continued later in the afternoon at the Pinehurst Harness Track.
All of the games, entertainment and food were set up in the large open field, where the crowd gathered to see the fireworks — a change from last year, when the pre-fireworks bash took place in and around the Fair Barn, a five-minute walk away.
The renowned Craig Woolard band, out of Cary, supplied the live music.
“We really enjoy this event,” said Mary Geshel, of Pinehurst, a regular at the event. “The band is great. The fireworks are fantastic, and the food is delicious It’s a nice crowd, not too rowdy.”
Some new faces visiting from out of town joined the masses, including Gordon and Marci Dash, of Raleigh.
Gordon Dash said he’d been to Pinehurst for the day several times, and he decided this year would be a good time to come down for the celebration.
“In Raleigh, the fireworks celebrations are always big and crowded, and the parking is awful,” Dash said. “We wanted to enjoy the evening in a smaller town, something more relaxed. This is a nice atmosphere. It was definitely worth the drive.”
Adults spread out picnic blankets and kicked back in folding chairs, sipping sodas and beers. Children of all ages romped around the field, took rides down the inflatable slide and played disc golf and volleyball. Some joined the band on stage for a dance or two as Craig Woolard called out, “Put your boogie shoes on!”
“It’s a real thrill seeing the little ones in their Fourth of July outfits, dancing with the band and having so much fun,” Geshel said. “Today is all about the kids. Getting the whole family to share their spirit for the country we live in and the troops that support us, that’s what defines the Fourth of July.”
There was a tangible anticipation throughout the crowd as the featured event drew near. People began checking their watches every couple of minutes as the 9:15 p.m. fireworks start time ticked closer.
With a whoosh and a bang, the first fireworks announced the start of the Independence Day show. The show lasted more than half an hour, a grand finale to an exciting evening.
“It’s wonderful to see our whole community come together today and all connect on the same level,” said Leah Samaras, of Pinehurst. “It’s a time to share past memories while celebrating our independence.”
Over in Aberdeen, the “Fun Family Fourth of July” celebration kicked off at 5:30 p.m., with vendors and games for children. The jumping house remained a favorite throughout the evening. Corn-hole stands were set up in the crowd as bystanders ate corn on the cob and funnel cakes.
The Sand Band was a crowd pleaser. A small group danced in front of the stage to the quintessential shag music.
“It’s good family fun,” said Karen Dalton, who has been a frequent attendee of Aberdeen’s celebration.
Peter Yusckat, of Fayetteville, enjoyed the fireworks.
“They were really good,” he said. “They lasted a long time.”
Across the lake, Pinehurst’s fireworks were visible.
“That was really neat, getting two shows,” Yusckat said. “It was a great Fourth of July.”
Staff writer John Chappell contributed to this report.
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