Patriotic and proud

Published 9:44 pm Saturday, June 28, 2014

The Eclipse parade is an annual tradition that draws spectators from across Hampton Roads to the little village off Bridge Road.

The Eclipse parade is an annual tradition that draws spectators from across Hampton Roads to the little village off Bridge Road.

Suffolk is gearing up to show its patriotic spirit during Fourth of July celebrations, with a parade, fireworks and other activities planned.

The epicenter of Independence Day celebrations in North Suffolk is the village of Eclipse, where a bicycle and float parade on Eclipse Drive will kick proceedings off at 10:30 a.m.

“It’s certainly well received,” Don Hawkins, its organizer, said of the parade’s popularity during its 10-year history. Ebenezer United Methodist Church has been the driving force behind it from the beginning, he added.

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“Anybody is welcome in the parade. We have a lot of old cars. We have a lot of children on bicycles and wagons and golf carts,” Hawkins said.

A new element in this year’s parade will be eight or nine antique vehicles driven by Colonial Virginia Model A Ford Club members, according to Peter Maytham.

The club has participated in a number of other Fourth of July parades in the Tidewater area, Maytham said, and decided to rally some members for the Eclipse event.

“That’s an addition to whatever has been there in the past,” he said.

The staging area for the parade is the soccer field on Eclipse Drive, and helmets are mandatory for all cyclists.

Official remarks will take place during an opening ceremony inside the Ebenezer United Methodist Church Family Life Center, 1589 Steeple Drive, from 11:30 a.m.

Food sales will continue inside the center from noon to 3 p.m., and then outside near the playground from 6 to 9 p.m.

On the middle soccer fields, families can enjoy free rides and games from noon until 3 p.m., when folks will migrate to the Johnson and Sons Seafood dock to view the raft race on Chuckatuck Creek.

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., folks can dance the evening away to music from the Nate Sparks Band and Blues Brothers, also on the middle soccer fields.

Lawn chairs and blankets will come out for the fireworks at 9 p.m.

Meanwhile, in the city’s downtown area, the Stars and Stripes Spectacular will light up the skies with fireworks over the Nansemond River at Constant’s Wharf Park and Marina.

At 100 E. Constance Road, the park will open at 5:30 p.m., with a host of entertainment and children’s activities, according to the city.

Local food and merchandise vendors will offer a variety of goods and food choices, including barbecue, pizza and tacos.

For $5, children 12 and under can get unlimited access to a children’s area with inflatable amusements, face painting and games.

The Hotcakes Band will provide the tunes, while Sen. John Cosgrove has been booked to perform the national anthem.

There will be no on-site parking. Shuttle parking will be available at the old Fresh Pride shopping center, 569 E. Constance Road; First Baptist Church, 237 N. Main St.; adjacent to the Suffolk Seaboard Train Station, 326 N. Main St., at Market Park; and the courthouse parking lot, behind 150 N. Main St.

Shuttles will run from these locations from 5:15 p.m. until before the fireworks begin at 8:20 p.m., resuming after the fireworks.