The Land of the Free ... The weather was simply perfect for the Fourth of July festivities held at Royal Lane Park in Clinton on Monday as hundreds gathered for a variety of festivities at the park. The nightcap was the annual fireworks display, which lit the night sky after the Independent’s deadline, but was destined to be yet another crowd-pleasure and crowd-gatherer, with thousands expected.
The day began around 9 a.m. with doubles tennis, singles tennis, scuba diving and swimming lessons.
The morning was great for tennis with low humidity and not-all-that hot temperatures. The doubles championships pitted Cameron and Joey Leggett against Aaron Young and Michael Watts. Leggett/Leggett came away as the victors 8-4.
The singles championship faceoff was between Tim Ameen and Aaron Young, with Ameen coming away with the win, 6-3, 6-2.
The swimming and scuba diving was also being held a few yards away at the Royal Lane Pool. The scuba diving was hosedt by Paws Rule which is a non-profit animal sanctuary program with the mission of building a “no kill” shelter for Sampson County.
Jan Peterson, a member of the Paws Rule, said the major focus was to provide for the animals in collaboration with the animal shelter. “Too many animals are being killed unnecessarily,” attested Peterson. “Later in the year we will hold another fundraiser, which will be a bluegrass festival at the Bellamy Center. This will be our big fundraiser for the year,” she added.
Lindsay Peterson, a veteran scuba diver and instructor for 40 years, along with assistant Caitlin Parker, taught the scuba diving. Ruth Godwin of Clinton and Scott Pope, also of Clinton, were two of the participants. Both said they learned a lot about scuba diving and had a wonderful time in the process.
At the other end of the pool, Camille Harrison was teaching swimming lessons.The younger children were the first to particpate. Kisha Rogers, Brenna Sharon and Brandon Faison were a few who enjoyed learning how to swim.
“The kids really did well and seemed to enjoy the experience,” said Harrison.
The afternoon activities included the Woodmen of the World flag presentation, the Veterans Recognition Ceremony, and the placement of the wreath at the Wall of Honor and Rememberance.
This event was originated in 2006, said Brenda Potter, the July 4th program coordinator for Clinton Recreation and Parks. “The event is to show our gratitude to our local vets. The wall has each veteran’s service rank, name, branch, service dates, accommodations, medals, and special stories. They are encouraged to bring pictures as well,” said Potter. During the Veteran’s Ceremony a city official will place a wreath in front of the wall in loving memory and in honor of veterans who have served the country.
“It’s extremely heart-warming to watch the vets visit the wall,”said Potter, adding that it means a lot to the families as everyone stops to celebrate the country’s freedom.
D.J. Joey Warren also started spinning some tunes mid-afternoon followed by the featured band, “Hip Pocket.”
The horseshoe contest was also great fun, said Carolina Powell. “We come every year and have a wonderful time. We bring our grandchildren and look forward to the fireworks, as well.”
The finale, which seems to be everyone’s favorite, is the fire works.
Judy Nicholson, director of the Recreation Department, said the town spent over $10,000 for the fireworks which is handled by Hale Artificer.
“This is our 20th year of the celebration and it celebrates our freedom,” concluded Nicholson. “It is a much-anticipated event every year.”