Plenty of ways to celebrate July Fourth in Wayne County
By Becky Barclay
Published in News on July 2, 2012 1:46 PM
Wayne County residents will be treated to games, food, contests -- and of course, fireworks -- this year with several local events.
After months of planning, members of the Mount Olive Exchange Club will treat Wayne County residents to a July 4 celebration they'll remember until this time next year.
The event will be held July 4 at Westbrook Park in Mount Olive, starting at 5 p.m. There will be entertainment, live music, free food, games for the children and more. Children will also have the chance to decorate their bicycles and wagons for a July 4 parade through the park -- and win ribbons. Judging for the bike parade will begin at 4:30 p.m.
Adam Livengood, with the Exchange Club, said it's an annual event that the Exchange Club, along with the Lions Club and Mount Olive Chamber of Commerce, has been putting on for years.
"It usually draws up to 300 and 400 people," he said. "I's a pretty big event."
And it's all free.
Livengood said hot dogs, pizza, soft drinks and ice cream is usually donated.
Along with good eats and games, there will be bingo games held indoors where it's not so hot. And there will be readings from the Constitution, and the Pledge of Allegiance will be recited.
"The mission of the Exchange Club is to promote patriotism and prevent child abuse," Livengood said. "The July 4 event is a way we can bring out the community to celebrate and remember July 4 and the nation's birthday. And with the kids out there, it's such a nice family event and a positive way for Mount Olive and surrounding communities to celebrate an important day."
Livengood said that people go to the event and stay for a couple of hours. He and other Exchange Club members have gotten nothing but positive feedback from those attending past July 4 events.
"I don't see any end to this tradition," he said. "As long as people come out and we get donations from the community and funds from our fundraiser, we'll continue it."
Each year the Exchange Club does a fundraiser to be able to hold its biggest event of the year.
"If someone's never been before, they might be surprised that this event is going on," Livengood said. "Each year we give away prizes for the youngest and oldest people attending. We've had someone 93 and a 5-month-old baby, and everyone seems to have fun."
Following the Exchange Club's July 4 celebration, the Mount Olive Jaycees will wow the crowd with fireworks about 9 p.m.
The show will last anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes.
"We've been doing the fireworks show quite a long time now," said Ernie Taylor, Jaycees treasurer. "It's a way to give back to our community. With the cost of the show, the town couldn't do it without the Jaycees and the Jaycees couldn't do it without the town. It's a way to give the community some festivities on July 4."
Taylor said he's heard comments from those attending past fireworks shows that it just gets better and better every year.
Although the Jaycees helps pay for the fireworks, its members don't actually shoot them off. The Jaycees hires a company out of Lexington to do that.
Those with access to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will have the opportunity to celebrate July 4 with a lot of various activities.
The base's Independence Day Celebration will be held July 3 from 5 to 9 p.m. across from the fitness center.
Shawna Morton, director of the Community Center at Seymour Johnson AFB said there will be a live band, games, food booths, magic shows, face painting, bouncy castles, a dunk booth and much more.
Although some of the festivities are free, some will have a charge, such as the Kids Zone, and food and beverage booths.
No coolers are allowed to be taken into the celebration.
"Every year we have this celebration," Ms. Morton said. "We've had it for a long time.
"It's just a great way to get the community together, boost morale and celebrate Independence Day."
She said that every year several thousand people show up for the event.
Culminating the evening will be a fireworks show at 9:15 p.m., which will last 15 to 20 minutes.
"Everyone always loves the fireworks show," Ms. Morton said. "We hear the kids' oohs and aahs and see their big eyes and bright smiles, and definitely know that they enjoy it."
For even more July 4 fun, Wayne County people can stop by Celebrate Freedom fun night at First Pentecostal Holiness Church in Goldsboro. It will be going on from 5:30 to 8 p.m. July 4.
Everything is free, including hot dogs, wiffle ball, inflatables, watermelon, homemade ice cream and more.
"This is something we do every year," said Marla Glaesman, promotions director for the church. "It's just a great outreach to the community and a way to celebrate our country's freedom."
She said past events have been very successful.
Church Alive Ministries in Pikeville will have its first Fourth of July Extravaganza July 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Pastor Charles Gentry said that Pikeville was not able to hold a July 4 celebration this year, so the church stepped up for the community.
The event is free and will feature hot dogs, chips, drinks, two bouncy houses, a Velcro wall, horseshoes contest, three-legged races, sack races, kickball games, balloon tosses and music.
"Although we won't have any fireworks this year, we hope to make this an annual event and have fireworks next year," Gentry said.
Fireworks will also explode over Berkeley Mall on July 4 at 9 p.m. Sponsored by the mall, the 17th annual fireworks show is free.
-- News-Argus intern Morgan McLaughlin contributed to this report.