The Clinton Recreation and Parks Department will host its annual Fourth of July celebration and fireworks show at Royal Lane Park Saturday, with festivities going on throughout the day leading up to the night’s light show in the sky.
While the fireworks are not scheduled to start until 9:30 p.m., those coming out to Royal Lane can enjoy numerous other activities long before the first sparkler is lit.
According to recreation officials, Woodmen of the World will offer a flag presentation at 5 p.m., followed by the Veteran Recognition Ceremony and the placement of a wreath at the Wall of Honor and Remembrance. The wall is a memorial to veterans past and present, who have served their country over the years. Many are local veterans or those with local ties. The wall, with pictures, summaries of service and letters of gratitude, stands each year as a tribute to them, recreation officials said.
This year, it will be somewhat different — but with the same ultimate goal.
“We are revamping our veterans recognition program,” said Judi Nicholson, recreation and parks director. “We have done basically the same program over the last several years.”
As part of this year’s program, a song “Before You Go,” written and performed by Dr. Sam and the Managed Care Blues Band, will be played for those in attendance, program coordinator Brenda Potter said. It is a tribute to aging veterans and the lyrics will be spoken by athletics director Jerry Herring over the music.
Some of the lyrics state, “Quietly, you’ve all turned gray, you did your job - you saved our way; Our life and freedom you preserved, we’ve thanked you less than you’ve deserved.”
“We thought it was a sweet song,” said Potter. “That’s what it’s really all about.”
Potter said veterans and their families will drop off information to be placed on the Wall of Honor and Remembrance and share stories with them of the hardships of war, be it World War II, Korea, Vietnam or either of the two wars in Iraq and the Middle East.
“Judi and I get choked up when we hear them,” said Potter. “We don’t have to go through things like this. It means so much to them to be recognized. We get to live every day free and it’s because of people like them. On July 4th, it’s important to take time to honor veterans. It just means so much.”
DJ Joey Warren will be providing music starting at 3 p.m. The Magnificents Band will begin playing at 6 p.m.
In addition to music and ceremonies, open singles and doubles tennis tournaments will start at 9 a.m. on four tennis courts. A horseshoe tournament will begin at 3 p.m., with teams required to register at the information booth prior to 2:30 p.m. The horseshoe tournament will played at picnic area No. 1.
For those wishing to cool off a little with temperatures anticipated to soar above 90 degrees, Royal Lane pool will hold longer hours, operating from 1 to 7 p.m. There is a small fee.
Potter said veterans and their families are still urged to submit information and pictures to go on the memorial wall.
“It’s grown every year and now we’re having to put posts in the ground to hold it up,” said Potter of the wall. “We started out with one wall, then two walls, then front and back.”
And Potter said the information for this year’s wall, while still being compiled, looks to take up three separate panels.
“That’s fantastic,” said Potter, who noted the interest in the wall has grown along with the wall itself since its inception several years ago. “This is mostly comprised of Sampson County people. It’s very intriguing to see what they’ve been through.”
Those still wishing to have items placed on the wall can do so by filling out a form online at www.cityofclintonnc.com (follow links to the Recreation Department), or by visiting the recreation office. The office will be closed Friday.
“If they bring it in, we’ll get it up,” Potter remarked.
The Newton Grove Fourth of July festivities will kick off with its annual Little Miss and Mr. Fourth of July at 2 p.m. Sunday. Festivities will run throughout the afternoon and into the evening at Weeks Parks, ending with the fireworks display at around 9:15 p.m.
The town has traditionally held its fireworks display on a weekend close to the Fourth of July, but not on the day itself, in order to save money. Even on July 5, town officials faced a spike of $700 in the cost to provide the same fireworks display it did last year.
A $1,000 donation by Fred and Doris Huebner, who own 13 McDonald’s in the area, including the Newton Grove location, ensured the sky would glare bright over Newton Grove.
Janet Hobbs, who has organized Newton Grove’s July 4th festivities for years, said a similar outpouring in donations was received from town businesses.
The pageant will be followed by a talent showcase, which Hobbs said is still open to participants. There will be a lemonade stand and vendors selling various concessions, including Newton Grove Church of God youth group, which will be offering hot dogs and drinks.
There will be inflatable rides for children all afternoon and a live DJ playing a wide range of beach, bluegrass, country and pop music.
Along with the talent showcase, there will be a watermelon contest, watermelon roll and a tug-of-war and a Hula hoop contest. “It seems to be a crowd pleaser,” said Hobbs, “especially when we get some of the older ones involved.”
The contests are free of charge and children can win little prizes for competing, Hobbs noted.
“We’ll have a lot of little contest for the children,” Hobbs remarked. The day is one that is all about fun and fellowship.
“We try to have a wide variety of things going on,” said Hobbs, “so anyone can enjoy it — young and old.”
Chris Berendt can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 121, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.