STATE ROAD — It was the 41st year of Mountain Park celebrating Independence Day with fireworks as a conclusion that went three minutes strong with a packed park of almost 6,000 people celebrating freedom and thanking veterans.
People were lined up in the ballfields, parking lots and the park was packed as tight as it could go. Emcee and Ruritan Club member, Phil Harris, also an event organizer, said it took folks close to two hours just to get out of the park.
The day started with a parade with lots of community floats that drew participation from many and a crowd of more than 3,000 people. Harris said Bill Nixon, also a parade organizer, helped get a helicopter to fly along the parade as part of the celebration.
The parade was full of old cars, horses, tractors and trucks and things that reflect community and freedom. It brought together churches, communities and businesses, said Mountain Park Ruritan Club Vice President Joyce Andrews.
Kids of all ages played whole-heartedly as their way of celebrating freedom from morning until the park’s closing. Some took breaks to enjoy cooling off with several flavors of Sno-cones from which to choose.
A favorite of many kids proved to be blue raspberry. Several enjoyed the combination choice of two colors for a dollar, and picked patriotically, opting for red and blue.
Some adults got to enjoy playing games, too, and were good at them. Keith and Ryan Miller won the corn hole tournament.
Veterans were honored in a service by Bill Hanes and firefighter awards were received by Jeff Gullatt, Senior Firefighter of the Year, and Courtney McCann, Junior Firefighter of the Year.
The Mountain Park Volunteer Fire Department drew customers from all over as it has done previous years for its grilled Polish sausages, said Fire Chief Tony Sewell. He added, “Darn right, we make the best!”
A 4-year-old pet pot-bellied pig named Moo Moo was in on the celebratory park events. Sometimes, Moo Moo was amenable to being petted by the kids, and sometimes not. She did fuss…but only a little.
Attendee David Weaver said his mother’s family are Parsons from the area, and he comes home to the event to celebrate, visit his family’s graves, some who were veterans.
He said his brother’s stepson is a military veteran and a Winston-Salem Police officer. Weaver said he was thinking of him this Fourth of July. Also, Weaver said he was celebrating all veterans and what they have done to defend freedom. He said he hopes the current generation does not take freedom for granted, nor rest on their laurels. He said to remind ourselves daily of what it has cost is important.
It hasn’t been free, said Weaver. “If you abuse your freedom, you lose your freedom, that is like a law of gravity,” said Weaver.
On duty for the July Fourth Park celebration were law enforcement officers Michael Channing Murphy and Dave Wilmoth. Murphy said, “It is really nice to celebrate freedom and enjoy festivities with the community.”
Wilmoth said, “I second that.” Murphy said law enforcement has changed a lot in just seven years as threats of domestic terrorism have been on the increase.
Residents Dub and Nancy Blackburn thanked veterans for their right to celebrate and for the right to own a piece a property.
Dub Blackburn said, “I really appreciate all the veterans and what they have done for us. We are blessed.”
Blackburn said sometimes it takes “war to make peace” as difficult as it is. He added he hopes the United States will prioritize spending in “dangerous times” of debt. He also said it is important to remember those who are prisoners of war and missing in action and do what we can to bring them home. He said there are many elements that make up freedom and when it comes right down to it and to celebrate what we have is important.
Tanya Chilton may be reached at 336-835-1513 or on Twitter @TanyaTDC.