Honoring Freedom and Pride

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Fireworks from a previous festival. Photo courtesy of the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce

When the United States adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, commemorating freedom from Great Britain, it marked the country’s own federal holiday that would be celebrated each year with traditions unique to American citizens. Over the years, these traditions have evolved to mean parades, American flags, cookouts with hot dogs and hamburgers, baseball games and always a firework show finale—and there are few that put on a better celebration than the city of Southport, NC.

Officially adopted as the NC 4th of July festival in 1972, the people of Southport really have been celebrating Independence Day for over 200 years. In colonial times, ships would lay anchored in the harbor and shoot off cannons to observe the United States’ day of freedom. Now, the festival attracts between 40,000 to 50,000 visitors to the small maritime community. Southport and the festival committee make sure the celebration has something to offer for all demographics.

From the opening ceremony on June 28, shag and skate contests, flag retirements, new citizens, arts, crafts and food to the annually anticipated fireworks finale July 4th evening, Southport promises to continue their Independence Day celebration in a big way. All of these activities and more are covered by Southport Magazine, and to make it easier for readers to plan their weekend, below is a list of compiled events and activities with all of the information needed to make a successful festival. For more details on all of these events, or to register for events such as the Freedom Run or the Shag Contest, visit www.nc4thofjuly.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 28

Opening Ceremony
7:45 a.m. • Waterfront Park, 101 E. Bay Street
Marking the official beginning to the NC 4th of July Festival, the ceremony will include comments from the Mayor of Southport and Festival President, the singing of our national anthem, and a flag-raising ceremony by the Boy Scouts of America.

Freedom Run/Walk
8 a.m. • Waterfront Park, 101 E. Bay Street
The 5K run/walk and one-mile fun run begins and ends at Southport’s Waterfront Park. Beginning with the firing of “Thor,” Southport Historical Society’s cannon, the course will take participants on a tour of historic Southport. The race begins at 8 a.m. and is free to watch, while guests and participants will be entertained by the band Party of Two.

Registration and shirt pick-up: Friday, June 27 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Waterfront Park, or Saturday, June 28th from 6:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. Entry fees are $30/person or $15/children under 18, active military, and law enforcement.

Historic Chapel of the Cross Self-Guided Tours
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
St. Philip’s Church, 205 E. Moore St.
457-5643 • www.stphilipschurch.org
The Chapel of the Cross was built by soldiers at Ft. Johnston in 1843. During the Civil War the chapel was seized by the Union and it served as their hospital. Later it would be used as a school for African-American students. Today, the venue is a setting for weddings, baptisms, concerts, worship services and silent prayer. The tours will also be offered on Sun., June 29th from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Tues., July 1st from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Departments test their skills in the annual Firefighters Freedom Competition and Apparatus Expo, hosted by the Southport Fire Department since 1984. Photo by John Muuss

Departments test their skills in the annual Firefighters Freedom Competition and Apparatus Expo, hosted by the Southport Fire Department since 1984. Photo by John Muuss

Firefighters Freedom Competition and Apparatus Expo
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. • 115 E. Nash St.
This competition has invited area fire departments to participate with the Southport Fire Department since 1984. The event pays homage to training and firefighting methods and it tests the teamwork of a department. The competition will include events such as the Barrel Push, Bucket Brigade, Command Post, Sprinkler Plug and Tanker Tug. There will also be fire engines, ladder trucks and equipment on display for the audience.

SUNDAY, JUNE 29

Reading of the Declaration of Independence
4:45 p.m. • Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn
203 E. Bay Street
Prior to the Military Band Concert, resident Lee Norris will deliver a recitation of the Declaration of Independence in period costume.

Military Band Concert
5 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn, 203 E. Bay St.
The waterfront stage is the setting for several musical events throughout the festival, including the 440th NC Army National Guard Band in concert. Festival organizers encourage visitors to bring a blanket or chair to enjoy the show.

TUESDAY, JULY 1
BEACH DAY AT OAK ISLAND

Youth Activities and Contests
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Middleton Park Extension
Corner of E. Dolphin Dr. and SE 46th St.
www.oakislandnc.com
Activities will include inflatables, entertainment, food vendors and contests.

Folks can take part in the sand sculpture contest at high noon on Tuesday, July 1, part of the Beach Day at Oak Island events. Photo courtesy of the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

Folks can take part in the sand sculpture contest at high noon on Tuesday, July 1, part of the Beach Day at Oak Island events. Photo courtesy of the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce.

Sand Sculpture Contest
2 p.m. to 3 p.m., Beachfront Cabana Area
Corner of 46th St. and Beach Dr.
278-5518 • www.oakislandnc.com
Compete with your best sand art, creating larger-than-life images on the beach, such as alligators, sea creatures and more.

Skate Competition
4 p.m., Oak Island Skate Park
Corner of 49th St. and Beach Dr.
278-5518 • www.oakislandnc.com
Watch area skateboarders show off all their best tricks in the annual skate competition.

The Tim Clark Band Concert
6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Middleton Park Extension
Corner of E. Dolphin Dr. and SE 46th St.
www.timclarkband.com
Hailing from Myrtle Beach, SC, the Tim Clark Band is renowned for adding its own spice to well-known hits from the ‘70s through today’s music. The group features Tim Clark (lead vocals); Daniel Simons (bass, vocals); Brandon Clark (guitar, vocals); Malcolm Howard (drums, vocals); Jim Harris (keyboard, vocals); and Klint Ford (sound engineer).

Shag Contest
7 p.m., contest begins
Middleton Park Extension
Corner of E Dolphin Dr. and SE 46th St.
www.societyofbrunswickshaggers.com
The “Carolina Shag” originated in the area between Myrtle Beach, SC, and Wilmington, NC, in the 1940s. A descendant of the Carolina Jitterbug, the Carolina Shag is a couple’s dance performed to beach music. The contest is free to enter but registration is required; registration will take place from 5 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. on the day of the contest. Amateur shaggers only and contestants will dance for two minutes. Prizes range from $100 to $300.

The Society of Brunswick Shaggers strives to perpetuate and preserve the shag dance and beach music. The contest is the club’s fund-raiser for the New Hope Clinic. New Hope has been providing free medical care for uninsured, low income residents of Brunswick County since 1998.

Oak Island Anniversary Fireworks
9 p.m. • Oak Island Pier, 705 Ocean Drive
Organized by the Town of Oak Island to celebrate the merger of the towns of Long Beach and Yaupon Beach, creating Oak Island, the fireworks can be seen for miles on area beaches.

WEDNESDAY, JULY 2

Children’s Entertainment
9 a.m. to 12 p.m. • Keziah Park
Corner of West Moore and South Lord Streets
This year’s children’s entertainment aims to give younger kids a creative and fun outlet with activities such as face painting, craft projects, music and more.

Waterfront Stage Entertainment
1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Waterfront Park, 101 E. Bay Street
Bring a chair and a blanket to enjoy the following acts:
1 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. — John Topping (classic ‘70s rock)
2 p.m. to 2:40 p.m. — Fully Stocked (American folk)
3 p.m. to 5 p.m. – Root Soul Project (reggae)
7 p.m. to 9 p.m. – USAF Heritage of America Band Full Spectrum (pop, hip-hop, funk, R&B, classic rock, Latin)

Veterans Recognition Event
6 p.m. • Southport Community Building
203 E. Bay Street
With displays, entertainment, food and a keynote speaker, the Veterans Recognition Event hopes to honor and celebrate the brave men and women in the armed forces who protect and serve the US. As in past years, the festival committee has chosen a specific military branch, conflict or war to highlight but all veterans and active military are encourage to attend to be celebrated and honored.

THURSDAY, JULY 3

Children’s Games
8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Ages 5 and under, Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn, 203 E. Bay Street
Ages 6-11, Waterfront Park, 101 E. Bay Street
Organized by the City of Southport’s Parks and Recreation department, the event will showcase activities such as sack races and watermelon races, in addition to several other old-time games.

American Red Cross Blood Drive
9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Blood Mobile located at Waterfront Park
101 E. Bay Street • (910) 457-6964
Help support the community-wide blood drive to celebrate freedom. All donors will receive a t-shirt. This is an event of the Cape Fear Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Waterfront Stage Entertainment
1 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Waterfront Park, 101 E. Bay Street
Bring and blanket and a chair to enjoy the second day of Waterfront Stage Entertainment with these acts:
1 p.m. to 1:40 p.m. – Glory Girls (gospel)
2 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. – Crystal and the Clear Tones (variety)
7 p.m. to 10 p.m. – Gary Lowder and Smokin’ Hot (R&B, soul)

Brunswick Concert Band Performance
3 p.m. • Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn
203 E. Bay Street
The Brunswick Concert Band will be playing on Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn immediately preceding the USCIS Naturalization Ceremony.

Voter Registration
3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Southport Community Building
223 E. Bay Street
The Brunswick County Board of Elections will be offering non-partisan voter registration before and after the USCIS Naturalization Ceremony.

USCIS Naturalization Ceremony
4 p.m. • Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn
203 E. Bay Street
Since 1996 the USCIS Naturalization Ceremony has been a staple at the NC 4th of July Festival. Come watch as over 100 candidates take the official Oath of Citizenship and help them celebrate their first Independence Day. The ceremony will include songs performed by the Southport Community Choir, a keynote speaker and cannon firings.

Flag Retirement Ceremony
6 p.m. • BB&T Flagpole, 104 S. Howe Street
A somber and respectful event where the public can observe as US flags that have become unserviceable are honorably retired. According to the US Flag Code, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” Organized by the Richard H. Stewart Jr. American Legion Post and the Cape Fear Council of Boy Scouts, the ceremony will include Linda Snyder singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful,” as well as comments from US Army Lt. Colonel, Retired, Bill Morgan.

FRIDAY, JULY 4

Pancake Breakfast
7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., Trinity United Methodist Church, 209 E. Nash Street
A tradition for many families attending the parade, the funds from admission will benefit the Trinity United Methodist Church.

Flag-Raising Ceremony
10:30 a.m.
Intersection of Moore and Howe Streets
A unique ceremony where drum and fife meet the Knights of Columbus. The procession from the NC Maritime Museum on Moore Street is lead by a colonial band and citizens dressed in period costumes, followed by area public officials to the intersection of Howe/Moore Streets. The Knights of Columbus hoist the colors, a flag that has been flown over our nation’s capitol. The event is organized by the Brunswick Town/Fort Anderson State Historic Site.

Shine and Show Classic Cars
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Across from Fort Johnston Southport Museum and Visitor Center, 203 E. Bay Street
Cape Fear Cruisers invites visitors to take a stroll down memory lane by viewing participant’s classic vehicles at the Shine and Show. The event does not hand out prizes but does promise participants and visitors a great time.

Spectators view the 2013 NC 4th of July Festival parade along Howe Street outside of the Southport Baptist Church. Photo by Bethany Turner

Spectators view the 2013 NC 4th of July Festival parade along Howe Street outside of the Southport Baptist Church. Photo by Bethany Turner

Festival Parade
11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Enjoy Southport’s 4th of July Festival signature event with over 100 units in the parade including floats, music, cars, queens and more. The current parade began in 1964 but has roots dating back to the 1700s when female residents of Smithville (now Southport) dressed in white and marched through the town in observance of Independence Day. This year’s parade will be marshalled by BMCS A. Mark Kannan, United States Coast Guard Station Oak Island with WWII veterans as Honorary Marshalls. Also, for the first time ever, the newly crowned Miss North Carolina will participate in the parade. The parade is sponsored by Dosher Memorial Hospital and will be televised by WECT TV 6 at 8 p.m.

Waterfront Stage Entertainment
1 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Waterfront Park, 101 E. Bay Street
Bring a chair and enjoy these acts:
1 p.m. to 2 p.m. – Nothing Without (rock)
2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – Mike’s Garage Band (oldies/variety)
6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Liquid Pleasure Band (beach, top 40, rap, rock and standards)

CFYC Pilot Commodore’s Regatta
2 p.m. to 4 p.m. • Cape Fear River
View from Waterfront Park on Bay Street
www.capefearyachtclub.com
A part of the festival since 1994 and open to any sailboat in the area, the regatta is an event of the Cape Fear Yacht Club.

Free Live Pro Wrestling
3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Fort Johnston Garrison Lawn
203 E. Bay Street
Come watch the United Pro Wrestling Association bring visitors and residents of Southport this live event, featuring Pete Nixon, Ulrich Von Vorse, and former WCW superstar The Stro, who will be available to sign autographs.

Associated Artists of Southport Raffle
5 p.m.
Franklin Square Gallery, 130 E. West Street
Tickets for the raffle are available inside Franklin Square Gallery throughout the festival and the funds will benefit the Associated Artists of Southport.

Lions Club Boat Raffle Drawing
8:55 p.m.
Waterfront Stage, 101 E. Bay Street
Purchase your ticket for a chance to win a boat throughout the festival at the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce, 4433 Long Beach Road. This is an event benefiting the Southport Lions Club and their many charities.

Fireworks Finale
9 p.m.
Waterfront Park, 101 E. Bay Street
Visitors line the Southport waterfront to enjoy 20 minutes of fireworks launched from a barge in the middle of the harbor. The finale’s tradition began in 1792 when the men of Smithville fired cannons from their ships to commemorate the nation’s independence from Great Britain years earlier.

ONGOING EVENTS

Associated Artists Summer Art Show
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Franklin Square Gallery, 130 E. West Street
(910) 457-5450 • franklinsquaregallery.com
View and purchase one-of-a-kind, local art.

Child Safety and Digital Heat Display
Corner of S. Howe and Moore streets
The heat inside a car can rise to almost 200 degrees in just 10 minutes, and according to Safe Kids of NC, 35 to 40 children die each year due to heat exposure in vehicles across the country. The Child Safety and Digital Heat Display will emphasize to adults that they should never leave a child unattended in a car for any length of time at any time of the year. The display will be available July 2-4, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. all days.

Arts and Crafts Fair
Franklin Square Park, 105 E. Moore St.
Taking place in shaded Franklin Square Park, visitors to the fair can enjoy over 120 booths displaying handmade items and unique specialty goods from several independently owned businesses throughout the region. The fair will go on from July 2-4, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. all days.

Waterfront Food Concessions
From S. Howe to E. Bay Streets
Visitors to the festival can fill up on food items that include hot dogs, Greek gyros, Italian sausage, shrimp baskets, barbecue, blooming onions, fries, funnel cakes, kettle corn, ice cream, cotton candy, and shaved ice. The concessions will run July 2 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., July 3 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and July 4 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Old Jail Tours
Corner of S. Nash and N. Rhett Streets
The Old Brunswick County Jail was built in Southport in 1904. It is located at the corner of Nash and Rhett Streets across from the Old Smithville Burying Ground. Since 1984, the structure has been maintained by the Southport Historical Society and has recently undergone extensive renovations. Tours will run July 2-4, 12:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Community Organization
Spotlight Booth
Waterfront Park, 101 E. Bay Street
Throughout the festival, the booth will showcase three NC non-profit agencies that want to bring awareness to their organizations’ services. Meet a different organization each day: Brunswick Christian Recovery Center, July 2 from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.; Canine Angels, July 3 from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Communities of Schools in Brunswick County, July 4 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Old Smithville Burying Grounds Tours
Corner of Nash and Rhett Streets, near the Old Jail
The Old Smithville Burying Grounds have been around since 1792, making some headstones on the grounds older than the town of Southport. Historic tours will take place July 4-5 at 3 p.m.

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Southport Area's Culture & Events Magazine