A high heat index didn’t keep folks from turning out downtown to celebrate the Fourth of July.
At Mount Airy’s July 4th celebration — as a reminder of what the day is all about — the Declaration of Independence was read in the town square (or courtyard of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History) as if it had just been ponied in from Philadelphia by Gen. Nathaniel Greene, who was accompanied by a group of Continental Army soldiers and Betsy Ross. With that out of the way, a parade of patriotism and nostalgia followed, as Independence Day 2018 played out in the city with temperatures in the nineties.
Kate Rauhauser-Smith, director of education and programs at the museum, began the day by leading a crowd of people turned out to hear the Declaration of Independence in a rousing rendition of “God Bless America” — the original version, not the Lee Greenwood song being played on loudspeakers downtown as she did not know all the words to that one.
Rauhauser-Smith then thanked all the people who had come out, especially the ones in Colonial garb consisting of multiple layers of linen and wool. The museum’s junior historians were some of those people, clad in their colonial gear and handing out copies of the Declaration of Independence to attendees.
Taylor Osborne (Gen. Nathaniel Greene) led in a group of soldiers from the Surry County Militia of the Continental Army, consisting of Matthew Green, Chris Ray, Doug Mitchell, Gabriel Mitchell and Dylan Green. Gail Norman, as Betsy Ross, accompanied them.
Osborne read the Declaration, and then ordered the soldiers to fire their muskets three times. They about-faced away from the audience and fired their muskets over the museum’s courtyard fence — over the heads of people already starting to gather for the July 4th parade.
With smoke billowing up from the long barrels of three muskets pointed directly at them, passersby on Main Street looked perplexed and remained frozen in place until Rauhauser-Smith yelled out at them, “You’re good.”
“We all owe thanks to the men who put their lives on the line so we could sit here and argue about whatever we want to argue about,” said Rauhauser-Smith, as she bid the crowd good-bye, and invited the kids to play some Colonial-era games in the courtyard while waiting for the parade to begin.
Later, as the temperatures really began to climb — it was 91 degrees but felt like 97 degrees, according to weather.com, but people on the dark asphalt were saying it felt hotter than that.
The savvier political candidates in the parade refrained from the obligatory throwing of candy into the crowd, and passed out ice pops and bottles of ice water instead, from coolers on their floats.
Dozens of rescue vehicles passed by, along with dozens more vintage and classic cars and trucks.
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.