Memories created in Eclipse

Published 8:10 pm Monday, July 7, 2014

Most folks in Suffolk who were looking forward to seeing fireworks on the Fourth of July found their plans frustrated by Hurricane Arthur, which had visited some hard rain and gusty winds on the area in the overnight hours leading to sunrise Friday. But residents of North Suffolk, along with those who traveled there Friday night, enjoyed a full fireworks show — right on schedule — courtesy of a Ruritan Club and a church that refused to give up on tradition.

A special, old-fashioned Independence Day celebration has been something folks in the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson communities have pleasantly anticipated each year since 1976, when a special celebration was put together to celebrate the American Bicentennial.

The resulting annual celebration is Americana at its best. There’s a bike parade in which kids can show off their decorated rides, there’s a bake sale, there’s a kickoff event featuring patriotic songs and speeches, there are games and fun activities for kids and adults — and at 9 p.m. or so, there’s a fireworks display.

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It’s not a display that’s likely to wow folks who are used to seeing the ones at Disney World or in New York City, but it always feels just about right for the close-knit North Suffolk communities that turn out to watch the show from lawn chairs, blankets and the beds of pickup trucks.

And on Friday, the fireworks over the Eclipse area were the only game in town for folks who wanted a glimpse of the rockets’ red glare in South Hampton Roads. All the shows east of Suffolk and south of the James River had been canceled by their organizers, only to see the by-now long-departed hurricane leave a perfect day in its wake.

Organizers wound up canceling the official version of the Eclipse parade Friday morning, but neither the cancellation nor the lingering breeze as Arthur headed out to sea dissuaded many of the communities’ residents from either taking part in or observing and cheering for an impromptu and unofficial event that took place anyway.

In the history of American independence, Friday’s events in North Suffolk constitute hardly a blip. But in the life of that community and in the memories of its residents, July 4, 2014, will be one that always brings back memories.