Wake Forest, Franklin County events planned for Independence Day.
By David Leone
Rolesville canceled its Independence Day festivities this year, but there are plenty of other opportunities in Wake Forest, Franklinton and Louisburg for people who want to enjoy the Fourth of July with family. (See below for information from each town.)
Wake Forest has entertainment and fireworks for kids and adults the evening of July 3, and schedules the bulk of its kids activities — such as a patriotic children’s parade and pie eating contests — on July 4.
“I have not been to the fireworks or the kids parade in a few years due to other commitments,” says Wake Forest resident Matt Reck, “but the ones I have been to were memorable and great fun for our entire family.”
July 3 fireworks: The 4th of July celebration actually starts on the 3rd with the Fireworks Spectacular at the Wake Forest High football stadium on Rock Spring Road.
Live musical entertainment starts at 6 p.m., followed at 6:30 p.m. by popular beach music band and Beach Music Hall of Fame inductee, the Band of Oz.
“The Band of Oz is always very entertaining,” said Jim Dyer, who is the event’s repeat emcee. He also personally enjoys “recognizing the veterans (and) the response of people watching the fireworks.”
“It’s a worry-free time,” Dyer added.
Don’t tell that to Don Carrington, a John Locke Foundation columnist far better known locally as the guy who jumps out of perfectly good airplanes to parachute into the stadium on July 3.
Locals owe Carrington’s involvement in skydiving to a fraternity dare at ECU in 1971 and the fact that he used to live here. He’s been jumping ever since — doing Wake Forest’s Independence Day drops for the last quarter-century.
Admission is $5 per person with children age 6 and under admitted free. Cash only will be accepted at the gate and concession stands.
Tickets are available at The Wake Weekly newspaper, Wake Forest Area Chamber of Commerce, N.C. General Stores, For Old Times Sake Antiques, All About Hair & Nails, Aloha Tan and Town & Country Hardware (Gateway Commons). Discount packets of 5 tickets are available for $20.
Because the fireworks event takes place on school property, alcoholic beverages, smoking and pets are not permitted. Lawn chairs may be set up on the concrete areas inside the stadium and only blankets are allowed on the rubberized track surface.
Picnic baskets and coolers are allowed but may be inspected before being permitted inside the stadium.
Parking is available in two school lots, on area streets and at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary adjacent to Wake Forest High. Wake Forest police officers are in charge of the traffic flow.
New traffic pattern: This year, traffic coming from the upper parking deck and the gravel lot, will proceed toward Stadium Drive. Once there, they will be required to make a right turn toward Capital Boulevard.
Traffic that is exiting from the lower parking lot will proceed toward Juniper Ave. From there, they will proceed north on North Wingate Street to West Oak Avenue. Once on West Oak, they can go as they wish.
Traffic that is headed from North Wingate toward Stadium will be made to turn right onto North Avenue.
Once the traffic shift has begun, nobody will be allowed onto Rock Springs Road.
Last year’s fireworks fizzle (due to excessive rain) won’t be repeated, officials say. They’ve switched pyrotechnic companies to Zambelli Productions and guarantee a longer show.
One thing that’s apparent from past comments is that many folks don’t know that the town doesn’t put the festivities together every year; it’s an all-volunteer committee.
One longtime volunteer was Dot Hinton, who passed away in May. This year’s celebration is dedicated to her memory.
Added Reck, “I appreciate the hard work that the people who put in the effort to organize the event each year.”
July 4 kids stuff: The Children’s Parade, Art-in-the-Park and Games-in-the-Park take place starting at 10 a.m. Friday, July 4, when the lineup for the parade begins at North Main Street and West Juniper Avenue, near the Wake Forest Museum.
Kids can ride or walk their bicycles or be pulled along in a wagon in a walking parade designed just for them, ending up at the community house at Holding Park. Participation in the parade is free, and all bike riders must wear helmets.
Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam will be leading the walkers.
Art-in-the-Park and Games-in-the-Park are scheduled 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Children of all ages will have the opportunity to work on a variety of arts and crafts projects to include include decorating a sun visor, patriotic magnet, cupcake and treat bag.
Games and activities include sack races, a watermelon seed-spitting contest and a pie-eating contest.
All activities at the park are free and concessions will be available. Holding Park is at 133 W. Owen Ave.
Pay as you go: Wake Forest’s celebration expenses are close to $30,000 annually.
“While we do receive a stipend from the town of Wake Forest, we do not receive enough to cover all the costs involved,” said Rhonda Alderman, who chairs the event committee. “One-hundred percent of gate receipts go into next year’s celebration.”
People wishing to make a contribution should mail checks to WF July 4th Committee, PO Box 466, Wake Forest, N.C. 27588.
Franklinton’s Stand Up for America celebration takes place Thursday at Franklinton Middle School, 224 Ram’s Way.
The gates open at 5:30 p.m., and the first of three bands starts to play at 6 p.m., leading up to the fireworks show at 9:15 p.m.
Admission is $1 for ages 6 and up and free for ages 5 and under.
For more information, call 919-494-2520 or see franklintonnc.us.
If you’re looking for more fireworks Friday night, Franklin County Parks and Recreation’s annual 4th of July celebration starts at 5:30 p.m. at Louisburg High School.
Games and inflatables will be provided for the kids, and hot dogs, nachos, popcorn, drinks and more will be available for purchase.
Attendees may bring their own picnics and leashed pets are allowed. However, alcohol is not.
A DJ will play a variety of music. Admission is free.
—Kathi McCorkle contributed to this report.