Hamlet says Happy Birthday, America

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Savannah Bussey, 3 and 1/2, is focused on her thoughts while holding an American flag Friday night shortly before the fireworks began.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Savannah Bussey, 3 and 1/2, is focused on her thoughts while holding an American flag Friday night shortly before the fireworks began.

 

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com This kid - we didn't get his name - earned the unofficial title of "Mr. 4th of July" Friday night in Hamlet. The young man participated in everything - tricycle races, water slide, watermelon contest and plenty more - with a constant smile on his face. This kid knows how to enjoy life!

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
This kid – we didn’t get his name – earned the unofficial title of “Mr. 4th of July” Friday night in Hamlet. The young man participated in everything – tricycle races, water slide, watermelon contest and plenty more – with a constant smile on his face. This kid knows how to enjoy life!

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

Photo gallery – more than 900 pics to view!

HAMLET — The invention of the tricycle came about in 1789, though a watchmaker designed a three-wheeled chair in the 1600s.

On Friday night in Hamlet, that was, well, ancient history as America celebrated its 238th birthday.

Photo by Jerry Ethridge

Photo by Jerry Ethridge

Tricycles today — two small rear tires and a larger front tire — are generally a thing of the past as society has made way for scooters and skateboards. But during the annual Tricycle Races for kids and adults in front of the Hamlet Depot and Museums, the tricycle was the only ride in town.

Rick “Chico” Arnold made it work for him. It might have been his “Phantom of the Opera” mask that helped intimidate his competitors, but the 32-year-old Hamlet man out pedaled — pedaling was mandatory, pushing was cheating — his way down the paved track to the set of two orange cones to be declared the winner of the adult races.

“It’s been quite a few years” since riding a tricycle, said Arnold, who declared himself the Phantom of the 4th of July. “It was fun.”

For his effort, Arnold was awarded a $25 Walmart gift certificate. For Sha Davis, too, it had been some time since riding a tricycle. Friday night, hers didn’t seem to work very well, but Davis was able to laugh it off.

“I’m a old lady,” said Davis, 39 years young.

On the younger side, Emma Grace Walls, 15 months, couldn’t help but run towards the camera once she realized its lens was pointed at her. Heading away from the depot with family not far away, she turned straight towards the camera. And ran. And smiled.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Thankfully for Hamlet resident Kelly Parker, watermelon was not the prize for winning the watermelon-eating contest.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Thankfully for Hamlet resident Kelly Parker, watermelon was not the prize for winning the watermelon-eating contest.

Savannah Bussey, age 3 and 1/2, wasn’t quite as aware. Holding an American flag not long before the fireworks display was set to start — it was getting darker, but not yet dark — Savannah, was in town from California with family to pay respects to her great-grandmother, Bettie Freeman, who passed away three days earlier.

Judging from her obituary, Freeman led a full, people-oriented life and it no doubt made an impression on young Savannah.

While Savannah seemed to be lost among the thoughts in her head, Larry Chavis was focused more with the top of his head. The 39-year-old Hamlet man proudly sported a bald head adorned with a patriotic face — er, bald head — painting.

While Larry sat with family to wait for the fireworks to begin, Jerry Suggs was busy beating Kevin Mack in the corn hole tournament championship. Suggs won handily, 27-0.

“I ain’t never playing him again,” Mack said with a smile.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com To note - the girl in the blue top laughter a lot in the very next frame.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
To note – the girl in the blue top laughter a lot in the very next frame during the water balloon toss.

Between food at Cafe on Main or a funnel cake, a trip down the water slide or perusing the vehicles in the Main Street Cruise-In, there was a noticeable drop in the size of crowd at this year’s event. One business owner attributed fewer people to a  free event at nearby Fort Bragg. Another suggested last year’s July 4 celebration — on a Thursday — helped keep people closer to home and thereby filled Hamlet’s Main Street more than Friday.

Speaking of food, the women’s watermelon-eating contest was initially declared a four-way tie after the initial 10-minute contest. However, there were prizes allotted only for the top three finishers, so a two-minute eat-off was staged. Kelly Parker, of Hamlet, won. By that point, however, Rebecca Cagle, also of Hamlet, was only too willing to concede.

Spectators eager for the fireworks display to begin at about 9:20 p.m. were not willing to concede their view on the west side of the train tracks — not even when a train came through less than a minute before the start of the 27-minute display.

Leave it to the “Hub of CSX” that is Hamlet, though, to schedule a train to come through Hamlet just before the start of the fireworks. The question very quickly became, among spectators, which would occur first — the end of the train or the start of the fireworks?

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Larry Chavis, of Hamlet, had an American flag painted on his head.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Larry Chavis, of Hamlet, had an American flag painted on his head.

As it happens, the start of the fireworks came first but that really didn’t seem to irk people who had set out blankets on the Hamlet Depot and Museums lawn and along either side of the tracks in anticipation of the fireworks extravaganza. They simply sat back, arched their necks a bit higher and watched the parts they could see until the train moved through.

 

 

 

 

Filed in: Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors

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