Celebrating America

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A group of residents tied their boats together on the Chuckatuck Creek and partied on the water last July 4. Events this year include the traditional raft race and parade in North Suffolk and fireworks in downtown.

A number of events throughout Suffolk on Monday will mark Independence Day.

North Suffolk

Ebenezer United Methodist Church and the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson Ruritan Club promise a day filled with Americana at their annual Fourth of July celebration.

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“(The event) rubs at the traditions that are really important to the community, and that’s God and country,” said the Rev. Carl LeMon, pastor at Ebenezer. “That’s the values that have made this little part of North Suffolk so special.”

LeMon said the goal of the celebration, which first started in 1976, is to continue and to build on the traditions that are important to the residents of Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson.

The opening ceremony will kick off at 11 a.m. in the church’s Family Life Center.

For the opening, guest speaker Bill Millan, a longtime Ebenezer member and former campaign director and coordinator for state Delegate Chris Jones, will discuss God, country and North Suffolk in his speech.

Additionally, the church’s chancel choir will perform patriotic songs.

Following the opening ceremony, a bike and float parade will take place at 11:30 a.m.

LeMon said there will be a “menagerie of transportation,” including bicycles, horses, antique cars and fire engines, featured in the parade.

Children are invited to participate in the parade; however, they must wear helmets and should line up on the soccer field before 11:30.

LeMon said he remembers how exciting it was to ride his bike in Independence Day parades when he was young, and he thinks it’s still a thrill for children.

“I loved it back then, and the kids still love it now,” he said.

The parade will also feature the Nansemond River High School marching band.

After the parade, free games, inflatables and activities will be available from noon until 3 p.m.

At that time, the homemade raft race will begin on Chuckatuck Creek.

From 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 6 to 9 p.m., concessions, including baked goods, barbecue and snow cones, will be available for purchase. All proceeds go toward Ebenezer mission projects.

The Elder Sparks band will provide live entertainment from 6 to 9 p.m., when the fireworks display will begin.

LeMon said the event’s coordinators hope to keep the celebration similar every year to solidify the tradition.

“This is a slice of Americana,” he said. “Traditions are pretty important around here. The same old stuff is really wonderful.”

For more information on the Ebenezer and C.E.&H. event, call the church at 238-2359.

Downtown Suffolk

Suffolk Parks and Recreation invites city residents to commemorate Independence Day at its annual Stars and Stripes Spectacular.

The event will take place at Constant’s Wharf Park and Marina Monday from 6 to 9 p.m.

The celebration features live music from the band Island Boy, concessions for sale and a children’s area with games and inflatables.

The event is free and open to the public, but there is a $5 fee to gain all-night admission to the children’s area.

The night will conclude with a fireworks display over the river.

Parks and Recreation special events coordinator Lori Carter said the park is a great place to see fireworks. She suggests guests looking for an enhanced experience stand as close to the park’s stairs as they can.

“The closer you are to the fireworks, the more you feel the boom,” she said.

Parking for the event is limited, and the city is offering a free shuttle service from various downtown parking lots.

The parking lot to the right of the Hilton Garden Inn as well as the Suffolk Visitor Center parking lot will be open, but Carter said these lots usually fill up quickly.

From 5:15 to 10:45 p.m., three shuttles will transport guests from parking lots at the courthouse, First Baptist Church, the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts, Prentis Street, Suffolk Seaboard Station Railroad Museum and the Fresh Pride store on East Constance Road.

The shuttle stops will be marked with large signs.

Carter said people should come to the event to relax and celebrate Independence Day.

“I would advise coming to the whole event to have something more to do on July Fourth,” Carter said.

The event features cookout food, such as hot dogs and barbecue. Guests can enjoy the food without the hustle of cooking, she said.

“It’s already done for them,” Carter said.

She said people should bring blankets, chairs or other things to have a place to sit and define their space, because the park tends to get crowded.

However, she said there really aren’t any bad views of the fireworks in the park.

For more information on the Stars and Stripes Spectacular, call Lori Cater at Parks and Recreation at 514-7267.