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Raft race joins July 4 festivities

By Staff
City’s Fourth of July celebration is expanding
By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
The city’s waterfront Fourth of July observance is being billed as Washington’s Red, Hot and Blues Independence Day Celebration by its organizers and sponsors.
The celebration begins at 4 p.m.
Preliminary plans for this year’s birthday party for America include a raft race, performances by a blues band, and a gospel concert, a watermelon-eating contest, watermelon-seed spitting contest and jalapeno-eating contest. Of course, fireworks over the river will be a part of the celebration’s lineup.
Organizers are hoping the Pine Needles Garden Club, coordinator of the Crabs on the Move project, will sponsor and conduct a crab race — live crabs, not the giant, fiberglass ones — for children.
The Fourth of July celebration also will include children’s events, musical entertainment and a boat-decorating contest. The event’s logo was designed by Vail Stewart Rumley.
Mad Dog and Blues Night Out is the blues band that will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Rick “Mad Dog” Moyer is the front man for the band.
Gold City and Doc McKenzie and the Hi-Lites will perform at a gospel concert — One Nation Under God — at the Civic Center grounds from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Moore, coordinator of the event, said the raft race will last about 30 minutes. The race will begin at Dock H on the waterfront. The homemade rafts — no motors, please — will race over a 500-yard course. Rafts will race 250 yards southward from the staring point, round a marker and race back to the starting point. The crew of the raft that crosses the finish line first wins $500.
The entry fee is $25 per raft. The deadline for entering the race is June 29. Rafts must be checked in by 3:30 p.m. on race day. The race begins at 4 p.m.
Registration forms may be obtained at the Prudential Cold Water Realty office at 162 W. Main St. in Washington. A registration form may be downloaded by visiting Prudential Cold Water Realty’s Web site — www.prucwrwash.com. Rules for the race, release forms and other information about the event are included with the registration forms.
The boat-decorating contest is open to sailboats and powerboats, according to Scott Campbell, contest coordinator. Each boat will be judged on three criteria — theme, presentation of use of materials. Judging will begin at 5 p.m. Winning entries will be announced and prizes awarded at the waterfront at 7 p.m.
The contest is informal, Campbell said. Boats will be judged at the waterfront docks and at anchor in the Pamlico River.
For more information about the boat-decorating contest, contact Scott Campbell at 570-328-9102.
Participants in the food-eating contests, with prizes going to top finishers, will be required to pay entry fees. Participants in the jalapeno-eating contest must be at least 18 years old. Fees for the contests will vary, depending on the contest and age of the participant.
Registration for each event will begin 30 minutes prior to that event getting under way. Winners of all events will be announced at 7 p.m.
The number of food vendors will be limited.
In addition to usual festival food fare such as hot dogs, shaved ice enhanced with flavored syrups and watermelon are on the tentative menu.
Red, Hot and Blues Independence Day T-shirts will be sold during the celebration.
Until last year, Washington’s Independence Day celebrations had been limited to fireworks displays in recent years. That changed in 2006 when the Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association and several people put on a Fourth of July celebration. That celebration was kept small, but its organizers promised future Independence Day events would be bigger and better.
Celebration organizers believe the event will bring people downtown, which should benefit merchants and restaurants.
Celebration sponsors include the City of Washington, Historic Downtown Washington Merchants Association, Prudential Clear Water Realty and Washington Marine &Sporting Center.
Additional details and information about the celebration will be published as they become available.
Raft race rules