Belhaven parade, fireworks mark America’s birthday
Town hosts 66th consecutive Independence Day celebration
By KEVIN SCOTT CUTLER
Lifestyles &Features Editor
BELHAVEN — For the 66th consecutive year, the Beaufort County town of Belhaven marked the nation’s birthday with a gala celebration featuring a parade, beauty contests, a carnival, street dance, mud run and, of course, fireworks.
The celebration was hosted by the Belhaven Celebrations Committee with support from the Belhaven Community Chamber of Commerce.
For the second year in a row, the July 4 activities were shawdowed by tragedy. Army Spc. Joel Taylor, who grew up in the nearby Pinetown area and who graduated from Northside High School, died June 24 while serving in Iraq. Last year, the town was still mourning the loss of Marine Lance Cpl. Johnathan Kirk, who died May 1 from injuries sustained from a roadside bomb in Iraq.
The loss of those young men makes the July 4 commemoration even more meaningful, according to Hubers.
The day’s highlight, the parade through downtown Belhaven, included several signs placed on floats and fire trucks in memory of the hometown heroes. Leading the procession was an Armed Forces color guard, followed by this year’s grand marshal, Ronnie Flowers. Flowers was honored for her 38 years of service to the Belhaven Volunteer Fire Department and EMS Department.
Also taking part in the parade were local Scouts, church groups, Little League ball teams, horseback riders, motorcyclists, beauty queens, elected officials, classic automobiles and tractors, fire departments and community organizations.
Among the beauty queens were newly-crowned Miss Independence Ashley Clayton, Little Miss Deanna Randalls and Tiny Miss Lauren Kellie Ricks.
Randalls and Ricks were crowned during a morning pageant held prior to the start of the parade. Joining them on a float were pageant runners-up Mallory Nobles, Jordan Dail, Addison Hamm, Makenzie Sadler, Melody Smith, Jamie Hamm, Morgan Burroughs, Tatiana Corprew, Layla Brock, Jordan Tyler, Shea Stender, Madison Medlock, Brooklyn Hudnell, Emily Smith, Kaylyn Coltrain, Natalie Hudnell and Emily Spencer.
If the parade was the main course of the day, then food and fun were the accompanying side dishes. Carnival rides and games kept the young and the young-at-heart entertained, while festival food connoisseurs could choose from such delights as snow cones, smoothies, hot dogs, popcorn, fries, blooming onions, cotton candy, funnel cakes and candy apples. Live musical entertainment and a lawn mower pull topped off the day’s festivities.
Belhaven’s July 4 celebration has a well-deserved reputation for being among the best in the state, and organizers work tirelessly to host an event for which the town has become known.
Those involved don’t have much time to rest on their laurels, according to Hubers.