It’s one thing to celebrate the nation’s birthday on the Fourth of July, but the city of Mount Airy also will mark its 125th anniversary Sunday with a special event featuring watermelon, cake and lemonade.
Like a burger at a summertime cookout, the city birthday celebration will be sandwiched between a parade through town and holiday events at Veterans Memorial Park, which will include music and fireworks.
Mount Airy is one of several area locations where Fourth of July celebrations are planned this weekend.
“I’d like for everyone to come out and show your love and your patriotism for our country and our city,” Mount Airy Mayor Deborah Cochran said of Sunday’s events here.
“We have our challenges, but there is no other place I’d want to call home,” Cochran added.
The mayor and other city officials are slated to ride in a wagon pulled by mules during the parade that will leave Veterans Memorial Park on West Lebanon Street at 3 p.m. Earlier that day, at 2 p.m., the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History will host a reading of the Declaration of Independence by “Benjamin Franklin.”
“These events are free,” said Cochran, who added that everyone has her personal invitation to enjoy all the festivities surrounding the double-birthday bash.
The official birthday cake-cutting will occur after the parade on the lawn at City Hall on South Main Street, which is expected to take on a picnic atmosphere. Watermelon donated by Mike Jones Produce will be available for those attending along with lemonade.
Sunday’s activities celebrating the anniversary of Mount Airy’s incorporation in 1885 are estimated to begin around 5 p.m.
While other birthday activities were planned throughout this year, Sunday’s gathering is considered the highlight.
Parade Entries Sought
Entries are still being accepted for Sunday’s parade, according to Paul Hodges, coordinator of the sponsoring Downtown Business Association. He said organizations that haven’t had a chance to submit official applications to enter the parade should simply “come on over to the park.”
“We’d love to have Boy Scouts and baseball teams,” Hodges said. Community groups, animal-rights organizations and others also are welcome, “just anybody that would love to participate in a patriotic parade,” he said.
Motorized parade units are expected to assemble at Veterans Memorial Park between noon and 2 p.m. to allow time for the procession to be organized. Groups walking in the parade may gather at the corner of North Main and Taylor streets by 2:30 p.m. in order to join in, while children on bicycles can take part by assembling at the Robert Smith House by 2:30.
“The response has not been as enthusiastic as we anticipated,” the Downtown Business Association spokesman said of the parade. But it’s unclear as to whether the fact July 4 falls on a Sunday this year has been a factor.
“I’m not sure if it’s that or the recession or just the summer doldrums,” Hodges said. “It’s been awfully hot (this summer) so far.”
Yet the show will go on — “we just need more participation at this point,” the coordinator said.
(Surry Arts Council officials have announced that a scheduled movie showing at Downtown Cinema Theatre Sunday afternoon has been canceled because of the parade.)
Benjamin Franklin — alias Dale Cline — will read the historic document adopted by the Founding Fathers on July 4, 1776, at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
That portion of Sunday’s activities begins around 2 p.m. in the courtyard of the downtown museum.
In addition to the reading, the “Celebrate Our Freedom” program will include patriotic music and free lemonade for those attending.
Museum officials say this event will be a perfect lead-in to the parade that should be making its way toward the central business district when activities at the courtyard are concluding.
Fireworks And More
The day wouldn’t be complete without fireworks, and those are planned as part of an event at Veterans Memorial Park scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., sponsored by local Rotary clubs.
Skies will light up with the fireworks at dusk.
The Klassix will provide live music from 6 to 9 p.m., and food and beverage vendors are to be set up on the park grounds.
While admission is free, donations of canned food or money will be accepted at the gate to aid food-bank and veterans-relief efforts.
Other holiday activities in Surry County and neighboring communities of Virginia during the weekend will include:
n Ararat — This Surry location is among the areas that will hold Fourth of July activities on Saturday rather than Sunday. Included are a 9 a.m. parade to run from the intersection of Ararat Road and Old U.S. 52 South to the Ararat Volunteer Fire Department. Music, games, food and other activities are planned afterward at the fire station.
n Mountain Park — A 10 a.m. parade Saturday is among the festivities for a 37th-annual celebration. Entries will line up at 9 a.m. for the parade that begins at Charity Hill Baptist Church and will end at the Mountain Park ballfield. Various events are planned throughout the day, including stage entertainment headlined by Craig Southern and Phoenix until 5 p.m., car displays on the field, a tribute to the troops, raffles and a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.
n Siloam — A parade Saturday at 9 a.m. will kick off a celebration now in its 31st year. The procession begins at Hardy Brothers Trucking and will end at “The Square” in Siloam. Music, games, food and a quilt raffle will be on tap beginning around 10 a.m.
n Shoals — An evening parade is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday, with the route stretching from Fairview United Methodist Church to Shoals Community Recreation Center. There, a patriotic program will recognize veterans, with hot dogs and drinks to be donated by the Shoals Ruritan Club. Games and live music also are planned.
n Lambsburg, Va. — An annual fireworks display by the Lambsburg Community Center is planned Saturday at dusk as part of an evening that also will include a patriotic ceremony at 7. During the program, a new flag will be presented to the center by a Veterans of Foreign Wars Color Guard and patriotic songs, a flag recital and the Pledge of Allegiance are planned. The band Now and Then is to perform beginning at 6 p.m., and concessions will be sold throughout the evening.
Mother Nature is expected to cooperate with mostly clear conditions Saturday and Sunday and temperatures in the mid- to upper 80s, according to a National Weather Service forecast for the Surry County area.
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.