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Southport NC 4th of July Festival- Let the Party Begin

DSCF5451_500On the eve of North Carolina's largest , Southport readies itself for a swell of visitors that you'd just have to see to believe. I say this after experiencing this colossal event first-hand for over 20 years. We're talking 50,000 festivarians in a town of less than 3,000 residents! Our home in Downtown Southport thankfully gives us a front-row seat. Once I get the groceries packed in tomorrow, the car stays put until Saturday. There are so many events and activities packed in the next few days, I'll have to let you look at the for yourself. Under the canopy of ancient live oaks, Franklin Square Park will hold a hundred or so artist and craftsman booths, and enough food vendors to keep you satisfied until you can make your way down to the bottom of Howe St. There you'll find everything from the crowd-pleasing funnel cakes and bloomin' onions, to Thai food and fried grouper bites.

You'll have three days to take it all in, but the BIG DAY is the 4th, starting with the enormous crowd-pleaser of a at 11:00, and ending with a BANfireworks_210G at 9:00 PM as fireworks over the water put the suitable exclamation point on the entire celebration. I'll admit after all these years, I skip a lot of the festivities. But nothing can compare with sitting on a blanket looking out on the water....watching local boaters gather 'round in the twilight....seeing the launch barge with its pyrotechnic buffet slowly pull up and anchor right in front of you.....and then finally, just to lie back in the company of thousands and witness the glory of the deep cannon-like booms followed by cascading bursts of iridescent glow. I swear they are falling right on top of you!

It seemFiremans Competitions like everything started early this year. The annual Fireman's Competition, which used to be on the 3rd, is now held the Saturday doubt as a favor to all the visiting firemen who can get in and out of town without fighting the traffic that ensues during the festival. I don't think I've ever seen as big a turn-oDSCF5448_300ut of fire engine red, spit-shined with pride, and the will to win. I'm not sure which stations took home a prize but just to see the camaraderie and the fight for bragging rights under sunny 90 degree skies, was plenty to get my respect, not just for the competition, but what they volunteer to do for us on a day-to-day basis.

One event I have missed the last few years but plan to catch on Thursday, is the annual Naturalization Ceremony, on the Garrison lawn on the Waterfront. Not a lot of people know about it, but it is a partnership between the NC 4th of July Festival and the US Department of Homeland Security and its Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration. This year a record number, 96 individuals from 48 countries and all six continents will take their Oath of Citizenship and become United States citizens. At a time when our patriotism and values are battling a media blitz seemingly intent on undermining our sense of pride in being Americans, this I promise, will move you. These often tearful and grateful new citizens, are experiencing the culmination of a life-long dream, and in watching them take their oath, you can feel the weight of their words. And if that's not enough, cannons, military salutes, and community choirs join together to top off the welcoming event.

DSCF5510_300 With 17 straight years providing technical support for our string of daughter's 4th of July lemonade stand, we no longer carry the burden of anything that even remotely has to do with responsibility. We can sit on the porch and watch the steady foot-traffic of families with their strollers, coolers, chairs, and blankets. We can smile and say thankfully, "been there, done that." 300

So if you fancy a simpler time......if you still like parades and pageantry, music and street dances, the smell of good greasy food, kids and parents in their finest red, white, and blue.....well you might just like what Southport's 4th of July festival has to offer. I'm pretty sure there's not a birthday celebration anywhere quite like it. One little for the visitors. Park on the EAST side of Howe St. facing out of town and you'll find your traffic time cut in half when you leave after the fireworks. Be safe and "let freedom ring."