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Star-spangled fun before the Fourth

Kids rode up on their bikes and families walked together down West Washington Street in the Saturday afternoon heat towards the sound of music at Morgan Memorial Library.

Suffolk Public Library’s third annual Pre-Fourth of July Cookout was filled with red, white and blue festivities for children and their parents to enjoy and plenty of grilled delights.

The afternoon was a nice surprise for Daniel Green and Daniel Green II, 9, who stopped by the library to check out books and ended up playing Giant 4 Connect in a Row on the lawn beside kids twirling in hula hoops and playing other outdoor games. Green said he and his son have fun at the library regularly.

“It’s always good to have these functions to bring the community together, and the library is a central part of that,” he said.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue personnel parked one of their fire trucks for the kids to take a closer look. They gave a tour of the fire truck and the onboard equipment. Messiah Boone, 9, said the yellow-handled sledgehammer he held felt like it weighed 10,000 pounds.

“We love coming out to community events like this, interacting with people we serve and giving them the chance to see what we really do for a living,” said Suffolk firefighter Wayland Drake.

The library collected donations for the ForKids organization and invited people to step inside the Library2Go mobile for something to read. Families lined up at the rear library door to get a plate of fresh food.

Members of God’s Love and Mercy provided meat and elbow grease for the grill, plus face painting services for the kids.

“It’s just something I like to do,” said GLAM Event Coordinator and go-to cook Kiera Carrecter as she flipped sizzling burger patties. “I love to serve the community and help people.”

“There’s not a lot of places that do stuff like this free of charge,” GLAM Secretary Kayla Samuels said about the library.

More than 200 meal tickets were turned in for plates stacked with burgers, hot dogs, baked beans and more. Families ate at Independence Day-decorated tables and kept cool with refills of water, lemonade and sweet tea.

Donna Pruitt said she brought her grandson Kentley Grames, 2, for some fun ahead of the holiday.

“I thought it would be fun to bring him to see what it’s all about,” Pruitt said.

Library staffer Deborah Ward dressed in her best star-spangled shirt and provided story time for the kids with readings of “Olivia Forms a Band,” “Betsy Ross” and the story of “Yankee Doodle.” After hearing the story, the kids sang the American tune as they were led in a tassel-swinging march.

People stepped to the music or raced around in a game of musical chairs, then left primed and ready for Fourth of July to begin in earnest.

“I think it turned out really good, especially since how hot and humid it is,” Ward said. “People are getting out and having some good, community time.”