Fun-filled Fourth on tap for city

By Tom Joyce

June 28, 2014

They could be called the Four P’s of Independence Day — parades, pyrotechnics, patriotism and pie-eating — and ample portions of each will be served up in Mount Airy this coming Friday.

The AAA travel organization is projecting that 41 million Americans will drive 50 miles or more for the Fourth of July, but only a short trip is required by local residents to have a good time.

This will include a holiday parade in downtown Mount Airy with plenty of red, white and blue on display; a fireworks show at Veterans Memorial Park; a customary reading of the Declaration of Independence; a pie-eating contest; and more.

“Just come out and enjoy our downtown and show your American spirit,” was the word Friday from Jennie Lowry Caudill of the Downtown Business Association in inviting the community to celebrate the anniversary of the declaration’s adoption on July 4, 1776.

With the fireworks finale scheduled for dusk at the park on West Lebanon Street nearby, Friday offers a full day of activities which officially will begin with the reading of the declaration right before the parade.

“The Spirit of America’s Hometown” is the theme for the occasion.

Annual Parade

The Fourth of July procession is set to begin at 11 a.m. Friday, featuring Perry Robertson as grand marshal. Robertson is a Mount Airy resident who contributed funds earlier this year to ensure the construction of a mini-park at the corner of North Main and West Oak streets.

Robertson made the $45,000 donation in honor of a childhood friend killed in World War II, Carlos Warren Jones, and the old Blue Ridge Hotel where the two lived while working downtown as youths. The mini-park is being built near the hotel site and its design reflects the architecture of that establishment.

The parade will have a military presence with organizations including the Marine Corps League and North Surry Junior ROTC participating. Colorful floats sponsored by businesses, churches and other groups also are to be involved.

Various dignitaries including local elected officials such as Mayor Deborah Cochran are expected to ride in the procession, as will congressional candidate Phil Berger Jr.

Caudill said unique vehicles also will be on hand, including a handmade car — the brainchild of James Sneed — four-wheelers and others.

In addition, special characters might be spotted in the central business district, such as Uncle Sam and a clown.


Mount Airy Museum of Regional History will host two holiday-related activities, one before the parade and the other after.

To get celebrants into the spirit of the occasion, the annual reading of the Declaration of Independence is scheduled for 10 a.m. in the courtyard of the museum.

It will be presented by Brack and Angela Llewellyn, founders of the local theatre group the NoneSuch Playmakers. They typically dress in period garb to lend authenticity to the rendering of the historic document.

And right after the parade in the museum courtyard, the second-annual Pie-Eating Contest for Charity is planned. It will benefit the Shepherd’s House, a local homeless shelter.

There are competition categories for both children and adults, but those wishing to participate must register by Tuesday at Miss Angel’s Heavenly Pies at 153 N. Main St., the contest sponsor.

Caudill also pointed out that a farmers market will be set up on Franklin Street.

Despite Friday being a federal holiday, there should be a business-as-usual feel to the air, she said. “I would say the majority of the stores downtown will be open.”

Fourth Fireworks

One of the more popular attractions of the local celebration of the Fourth of July is the annual pyrotechnics display at Veterans Memorial Park.

Once again, it is being sponsored by the Surry Sunrise Rotary Club of Mount Airy, with assistance from the Mount Airy Rotary Lunch Club.

The show begins at dusk. Before then, live music will be performed by the band Soulshine, beginning at 6 p.m. Food and drinks also will be available from vendors.

Though the event is free to the public, donations will be accepted to benefit local food banks and the Veterans Distress Fund. Collections will be taken at the park entrance and both entrances to Mount Airy High School, where some people view the fireworks.

Attendees are encouraged to bring folding chairs and blankets due to limited bleacher seating being available at the park.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-719-1924 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.