Pikeville Summer Blast ends summer on a fun note, but remembers 9/11
By Gary Popp
Published in News on September 14, 2011 1:46 PM
News-Argus/MICHAEL K. DAKOTA
Cheyenne Saunders, 9, and sister Kaleigh, 9, enjoy a frozen treat during the Summer Blast in the Park in Pikeville Saturday evening.
PIKEVILLE -- During the third annual Summer Blast in the Park Saturday, residents took time for carefree recreation and heartfelt remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11.
The festival began with a somber opening that included a wreath laying by members of the American Legion and an a cappella rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," sung by the quintet group God's Men of Harmony.
Town Commissioner Dennis Lewis then took the stage, reading a poem about a young girl who had to cope with losing her father on 9/11, and he introduced the empty table exhibit that was set up near the stage.
The ceremonial exhibit was a table draped with a white cloth and adorned with six place settings. Five of the place settings were designated for each branch of the military, Air Force, Army, Navy, Coast Guard and Marines, while the sixth seat was reserved for the civilians who died on 9/11 and those who have died fighting in the subsequent wars.
"It is very important to never forget those brave men and women," Lewis said. "The firefighters and first responders who entered the towers of the World Trade Center lost their lives while trying to save the lives of others."
Lewis also led everyone in a silent prayer during the opening ceremony.
"Being a military brat myself, it is a good time for me to think about my dad and my brother, for sacrificing what I did not have the courage to do," Pikeville Town Clerk Michelle Singleton said.
Mrs. Singleton said she became very emotional by the words that were shared during the start of the festival.
"'When it is your family, it hits closer to home," Mrs. Singleton said. "I am thankful for all the men and women in the military."
The mood of the festival was then picked up with a performance by students from the Charles B. Aycock band and color guard.
The festival's kid-friendly activities included inflatables and a football toss that was offered by members of the North Carolina National Guard.
National Guardsman Sgt. 1st Class Bryan Finch said he was proud to have the opportunity to interact with the people of Pikeville.
"Just to give back to the community and be part of the 9/11 memorial is what it is all about," Finch said. "Being a citizen soldier, this is special for us."
Finch said he and his fellow guardsmen are constantly reminded of how much the people of Wayne County appreciate their service.
"Not a day goes by someone doesn't thank you for what you have done," he said. "There is nothing that gives me more pride than putting on this uniform and serving our country and our state."
Those who made up the highest attendance in the three-year history of the Summer Blast in the Park were treated to music performances by Jimmy Fortune, formerly of the Statler Brothers, and the gospel trio 8th Day.
A 25-minute fireworks display closed the festival around 9 p.m.
Mrs. Singleton, who was primary organizer of the event, said the fair could not have been such a success without the help of Town Administrator Kathy Fields, Dennis Lewis or the Pikeville businesses that provided donations.
"I am really proud of our little town," Mrs. Singleton said.