Independent spirits celebrate
Published 8:09 pm Saturday, July 4, 2015
By Matthew A. Ward and Tracy Agnew
Downtown Suffolk’s Constant’s Wharf saw hundreds come out for live music, entertainment and fireworks to celebrate the country’s 239th birthday.
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Though the crowd was largely Suffolkian, folks from as far away as Hampton, Chester and Edenton, N.C., were in attendance.
“We like to explore,” said Frank Biganski, of Hampton, who came to watch fireworks with his wife, Kim, and 17-year-old daughter, Sydney.
Kimberly Gilbert, in attendance with husband Wayne and daughter Jessica from Edenton, N.C., said something similar about experiencing fireworks out of town.
“We just want to see something different,” she said.
The celebration featured kids’ activities, food and a number of vendors to enjoy before the pyrotechnics lit up the sky.
Up in Eclipse, a community parade up the village’s main street, raft race down Chuckatuck Creek, live music and fireworks saw the village come alive as the epicenter of Fourth of July celebrations in North Suffolk.
Under sunny skies and a cool breeze, folks began lining both sides of Eclipse Drive at about 10 a.m. for a parade that had everything from a stilt-walker to a family on horseback — not to mention plentiful golf carts and children on bikes.
Chris Weddell, waiting for it to start with wife Stephanie and their son, Hayden, 5, said it was the family’s first Eclipse parade after moving to Sleepy Hole.
“We would always go to the parades” in Charleston, N.C., where they moved here from last year, Chris Weddell said.
For Kara and Phil Taiclet and their children, Avett, 1, and Deegan, 5, the Eclipse parade is an annual tradition. Deegan said his favorite thing about it is the candy — and there was plenty of it thrown from the various parade vehicles. He added to that the horses.
“It’s a neighborhood tradition,” said Rod Thompson, waiting for the parade to start with sons Simon, 8, and Keaton, 6. The handlebars of their bikes sported American flags. “We’ve lived in the neighborhood for eight years, and we haven’t missed the parade yet.
“It’s America, man. You don’t find this everywhere anymore — like you used to.”
Asked what the Fourth of July means to him, Jack Miller was at a loss for words for moment or two. Then he found some.
“You see many places around the world that don’t have freedom. … It’s a good reminder — it’s something to look forward to every year,” he said.
Starting about 2 p.m., the golf carts were humming down the dirt track to Johnson & Sons Seafood — the second-best place to see the raft race, after one of the boats bobbing on the water right next to the course.
On the dock, folks unfolded their chairs and sat back with cool beverages to await the start of the race.
Nancy Fowler, sitting beside her husband, Brian, and their sons, Jack, 12, and Luke, 11, said she’s waiting for the boys to get a little bigger so they can join their 16-year-old sister to enter the race.
Judie Holloman, who said members of her family were some of the founding fathers of Eclipse, noted that Fourth of July in the village is one without getting stuck in traffic, paying for parking and worrying about anything at all too much.
“Everything here is family-oriented,” she said. “It’s a peaceful celebration, and there’s a lot to be said for peace.”
Holloman pointed out something else — the number of children, born in a community founded by watermen, looking like they were born to get out on the water. One was 3-year-old Layla Francis.
“She swims in the pool real well — jumps off the diving board,” said her dad, Brandon Francis.
Then the rafts were off and racing. A couple of teenagers up at the far end of the dock reported that the winners were Carter Hicks and Jacob Gray in a wooden canoe.
But the winner of the most attention might have been longtime raft race competitors the Nierman family, this year in a homemade battleship.