Washington to celebrate independence on the waterfront

Published 9:40 pm Sunday, July 2, 2017

An explosion of fireworks, live bluegrass tunes and a guaranteed great time — that’s only the beginning of what the Fourth of July on the Washington waterfront will have to offer, according to event planners.

Tomorrow, people from near and far are expected to make the trip to the Washington waterfront for a celebration of America’s birthday. The Washington Harbor District Alliance will host bluegrass band Hank, Pattie and the Current at 6 p.m., followed by a firework show around 9:30 p.m. The Raleigh-based, five-piece band is a country-folk mix and follows in the footsteps of bands like The Infamous Stringdusters, The Old Crow Medicine Show and Nickel Creek.

John Butler, chief operations officer of WHDA, said while the band doesn’t start until 6 p.m., people should arrive early to find a parking spot. Butler said people tend to make a whole day of the event, and the lawn of Festival Park will start to fill up at about 3 p.m.

“People can definitely expect a good time. They can expect to see the best part of Washington. We’re hoping a lot people will come to Washington, who really don’t come here very often. They’ll get to see the beautiful waterfront and see what Washington has to offer,” Butler said.

This year, the band will continue to play once the fireworks have ended.

Butler encouraged people to consider staying on the waterfront even after the fireworks have concluded, which will alleviate the expected traffic after the event.

Butler said the Festival Park celebration isn’t all about the fireworks, though — it’s a whole day filled with entertainment.

“It’s about the overall experience. The fireworks are the period at the end of the sentence, but we’ve got a whole sentence to offer,” Butler said. “The fireworks, though, will be amazing.”

Downtown eateries and shops will remain open on the Fourth of July to give visitors and residents the chance to soak up all that Washington really has to offer.

“We want people to come downtown early, walk around, grab something to eat. Instead of us having a vendor come in and sell waffles on the waterfront, people can go to local businesses and restaurants,” he said.

Butler and WHDA are planning for a fun, community event, rain or shine. Lee Chevrolet, Tranters Creek Resort and the City of Washington sponsor the event. Butler said this event shows a great partnership between the Harbor District and the city.

“There will be a large crowd of people out there, and everybody really gets along. That’s Washington’s personality. We enjoy being around each other, and you’ll see a lot of that on the Fourth of July,” Butler said.

The town of Belhaven is also hosting its 75th-annual Fourth of July celebration this week. This milestone event is an all-day affair, lasting from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m, and includes a parade through Main Street at 11 a.m. Vendors will be featured along Main Street throughout the celebration. Local artists including Raining Mercy, Don Cox’s Band and Easy Breeze Band will perform at the Wilkinson Center stage. There will be a firework show at 9 p.m.