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Fourth fun in Eclipse

The lineup of bikes, cars and more began their slow ride through eclipse just after 10:30 a.m. in the bright Wednesday morning and hundreds of people were either pedaling, steering or throwing candy to the cheering neighborhood masses that were dressed in red, white and blue.

There was a unicyclist that juggled tennis balls as he careened past the Crittenden, Eclipse and Hobson Ruritan Hall. Kara Taiclet, 42, spent her ninth North Suffolk parade longboarding in her red bandanna, sunglasses and an Americanized windmill spinner attached to the top of her pole.

“It’s like paddle boarding on land and it lets you carve as you go downhill,” Taiclet said as she got a drink of water.

She insisted that the Fourth of July should be celebrated “wholeheartedly,” which is exactly what the annual celebration in the Crittenden/Eclipse community is all about.

The 42nd parade was held once again by Ebenezer United Methodist Church with support from the CE&H Ruritan Club. The parade began in 1976 with just kids on bikes. This year there were a multitude of such kids – each with a colorfully tailored bike – along with more than 30 tricked-out golf carts, more than a dozen classic antique cars and other inventive rides.

“It was one of the best turnouts that we’ve had for participants,” said Judy Kuklock with Ebenezer UMC.

She said that it’s been going on for so long that people now come from all over to the small-town community charm and crazy decorations. A jet ski rolled on wheels, whole families waved from their parade floats, and children filled up bags and baskets with candy tossed by the parade riders.

“They think it’s trick-or-treat,” said Nidia Cruz, who was there with Omar Cruz and the children Aaron, 3, and Xavier, 6.

Colleen Simpkins collected a whole basket of popsicles, Dum Dums and Tootsie Rolls with her brother Wyatt, 4, and their mother Cerry Simpkins.

“It’s nice to see all of this patriotism and have some good family time,” Simpkins said as her kids nibbled on Dums Dums.

Volunteers inside the air-conditioned church had a bake sale of delicious concessions to go with Fourth-favorite hotdogs and barbecue. There was a bicycle raffle, face painting and plenty of games for the kids to play as they cooled off.

“It’s a very community and volunteer-oriented event,” said Ebenezer UMC Pastor Won Lee. “This is a really caring community and that’s been revealed through this event.”

That community recharged their batteries before they went to see the annual Chuckatuck Creek raft race later that afternoon. The flags were flapping from the welcome gusts of wind that offered breezy relief for dozens of people that watched the race from the dock of Johnson and Sons Seafood.

The crowded dock filled with people and dogs – along with everyone watching from their boats – saw a menagerie of cleverly constructed rafts cruise down the creek. Barrels were attached to each other and hollowed out for paddlers. A wooden cargo box had a bright orange, red and purple sail that gave the onboard paddlers an advantage.

Chris Saunders, Chris Niernam and Jason Gould brought their parade float to the race: a bright green craft in the handmade likeness of the Andrea Gail fishing vessel from “The Perfect Storm” movie. The trio has participated in the race for decades with a different design each year. They’ve ridden an octopus, an oyster boat, Noah’s Ark and even an alligator with a mouth that moved.

Gould said it’s about having fun and keeping the tradition alive for years to come.

“We don’t go for speed, we go for style,” he said.