Those attending the Southport NC July 4th Festival must arrive early to obtain good parking. The concept is simple- some 40,000 people will show up by time for the fireworks! Locals warned us of long after-event waits for traffic to merge cars off side streets onto the two roads out of town. We took the information to heart.
We left Yacht A Fun, our Gemini catamaran, at just after 8:30AM and drove our Jeep Wrangler the three miles to the edge of town where we were met by “traffic guides”. Though we didn’t get to go as far as our destination, which was the last marked parking space on Moore Street, we were able to do a U-turn and park on the road shoulder and have the Jeep pointed in the direction of traffic flow back to Deep Point. That was a major success. ( I love the Jeep’s short turning radius for just such occasions.)
The bikini wearing “woman” in the photo is made of pots. She greeted us to the event.
Using a milk crate bin and hand cart, we carried a pair of canvas chairs, water and bowl for Zoey, an umbrella, and Zoey’s purple vented carrier. It became obvious, as we walked into town, that people were already establishing their seating territories. Following their lead, we set up in the shade of a tree. As it worked out- the start of the parade was to our right and within easy camera view.
Leaving Diann and Zoey, I ventured to the Trinity Methodist Church to get photos of the “Pancake Breakfast”- which is a church fund raising event. My hope was that the lines would not be long and that I could return with food. Great photos- too long a line. Having my Media Badge was a blessing that day as I was able to present it to obtain entry to the dining room for photos. (Darn the coffee was tempting.)
Returning to our seating, via The Moore Street Market for coffee and bagels, I found that line to be toooooo long as well. A Tip for Next Time- bring a thermos and a bag of bagels from our catamaran!
Watching the parade participants get set up was a fun preview of what would be a parade with over 100 units. (Once begun, the parade lasted an hour.)
The 1922 fire truck was a crowd favorite among many that were dispersed within the unit flow. The riders are seen in this image doing final preparation before the start.
Shriners had a side street to themselves for staging multiple attractions. The Beverly Hillbillies truck and wagon was my favorite, though I’ve always loved the miniature cars that circle back and race in front of the crowd.
With a half hour remaining before the 11AM parade start, I found the portajohns to be numerous and very clean. From there I returned to The Market and found the line much shorter- and so the wait was just 15 minutes. The photo is of a Bagel with bacon, cream cheese, and cucumber. Diann and I both loved the flavor.
The parade cranked up and it was when Governor Pat McCrory pulled into view that I realized just how major the Festival is. The floats / units continued and provided a mix of beauty queens, military vehicles, advertising floats, musical bands, and so forth that is the visual and auditory Americana flavor of large parade events.
The organizers saved the poop for last as the horse troop brought up the rear- just in front of the final fire truck.
We packed our milk crate bin and carted to a wonderful location overlooking the band stand and Waterfront Park. We were able to sit under a huge cedar tree and had plenty of room for our two chairs and the parking of the bin/cart combo.
I’ll put in a plug for the Silver Coast Winery Tasting Room at 105 S. Howe Street. They also have a beer tasting room and large selection of bottled craft beer. (They are regularly open Monday thru Saturday 11AM to 7PM and Sunday from 1 until 6.) Cold draft beer was a treat before sampling lunch fare at the Food Concession area which was in front of the wine and beer facility.
Zoey was perky, as usual, and didn’t mind being on the cart. I did rework the carrier, though, so it became a flat surface for her to sit on vs. the original pocket version.
At 1PM the Christian Rock group “Generations” cranked up and began what would be an all afternoon music fest having a variety of bands ending with the beach band “The Catalinas” .
The waterfront view, from our shaded seating, included birds, boats, and by-standers. To our right was the food concession area and to the left the Museum / Ft. Johnson lawn and street with antique cars.
The Bald Head Island Ferries offered the Cape Fear Yacht Club Regatta the opportunity to have a nautical handicap- for those racers unfortunate enough to be in the right place at the wrong time.
True to the term “entertainment” were Wrestling events which ran from 3PM until 5. To begin the first event: Black was Bad. White was Good. Patriotism was Good. Pointed comments about America was Bad.
A white wrestler, with long blonde hair, strutted around the stage carrying a US flag- which waved due to the strong breeze. A black wrestler, wearing a full length black coat and black cowboy hat, barked insults at the blonde wrestler and disparaging comments to the audience and about the US. Some in the audience got caught up in the act and became emotional toward the “bad guy”. From yacht racing to “wrasl’n”, the day was diverse.
Diann fed Zoey fried rice. Afterward, Zoey met another young friend before the crowd began to swell. Diann and I then moved to the un-shaded lawn to be ready for the fireworks.
The camera’s low battery level caused me to skip taking photos of the fireworks barge which was moved out of the ICW to an area off the waterfront. Winds were about 18mph and directly onto the park. The barge was repositioned several times before the operators were happy with maintaining the view, but also providing a safe distance so that ash and debris would not reach he audience. The strong wind dissipated the smoke so that none blew across the viewers.
My camera battery ran out of energy just as the first volley exploded over the water front.
By having parked, in the direction of out flowing traffic on Moore Street, Diann and I were able to walk from the park and drive to our Gemini catamaran ‘s dock at the marina- in just 20 minutes. Yea, we were home by 10PM.
Later Diann and I learned that three boats, which were over at the island, lost their anchors to snags. What an expensive fireworks viewing that was for those folks!