Belhaven celebrates America’s birthday|Town hosts parade, pageants, mud run

Published 5:28 am Sunday, July 5, 2009

Lifestyles & Features Editor

BELHAVEN — For the 67th year, the town of Belhaven hosted what has been billed as one of the largest July Fourth celebrations on the East Coast.
Festivities kicked off Friday with an art show, Lucky Duck Regatta, beauty pageant and street dance. The celebration resumed Saturday with a full day of activities, the highlight of which was the Independence Day parade through downtown Belhaven.
Trucker Troy Mackey, who said he has lived in town for 21 years, spent the early morning shining his “big rig” in preparation for the parade.
“I love being in the parade with the trucks, and I do it for the kids,” Mackey said as he polished a chrome bumper. “I’m usually in it every year, and if I skip a year I get fussed out by my friends.”
The parade grand marshal was C.J. Wilson, a Belhaven native and local sports figure. The son of Amos and Doris Wilson, he is a 2005 graduate of Northside High School where he was active in football, basketball and track. Wilson attended East Carolina University, where he was named top defensive end and pass rusher, Defensive Player of the Year and All Conference 1st Team in Conference USA.
The parade also featured a bevy of elected officials, Scouts, youth league ball players, school children and beauty queens. Among the latter was Alexia Clark, who was crowned as the 2009 Little Miss Independence shortly before the procession began.Joining Clark on her float was first runner up Jordan Dail, talent winner Katie Hopkins, Faith Mason, Gwendalyn Lincoln, Alissa Randalls, Brianna Cox and Macee Adams.
Thousands lined the streets of Belhaven for the parade, including the Sparrow family. George Sparrow said he liked the social atmosphere of the celebration, and his wife, Stephanie, enjoyed the parade. “I especially liked the giant shopping cart (sponsored by ‘Got to be NC Agriculture) and the kids loved the four-wheelers,” she said.
The day’s festivities also included arts and crafts booths, food concessions, military flyover, live musical entertainment, lawn mower pull and mud run.
The celebration was sponsored by the Belhaven Celebrations Board of Directors and Fourth of July Committee. Members are Paul Wood, Petty Groome, Brandy Lee, Lisa Harris, Gloria Rogers, Melissa Smith, Gary Dean, Derrick Myers and Tabitha Oliver.