Richmond County Daily Journal
The hot weather got Hamlet’s Main Street Fourth of July celebration off to a slower start than usual but, as the sun began its descent, more people came out to stroll the sidewalks and participate in activities.
“I love Hamlet’s Fourth of July,” said Debbie Clark, of Hamlet. “It’s just a lot of good people, and a good time. Plus, I try to volunteer where I’m needed.”
Debbie, along with her husband David and Ronnie Mayo, Josh Ethridge and David Riddick signed up as dunking booth volunteers. The kids were surprisingly accurate with their aim, and all the volunteers spent much of their time in the water.
“I come with my granddaughter, Amellion, to see the fireworks - and we love the funnel cakes,” said Hamlet resident Janice Webster.
The event drew people from far and wide.
Tori Jackson, of Cordova, attended the event with her kids, who she said would be entering the tricycle races. Frances and J.D. Smith make the visit to Hamlet each Fourth of July from “just over the South Carolina line,” and William, Patti and Jamie Peele make an annual visit from Chesterfield, S.C.
“We come for the great fireworks,” said William.
Hamlet natives take the opportunity to catch up with friends.
“I just like to talk to everyone,” said Carolyn Singletary.
Hamlet City Councilman Jonathan Buie, and his wife Ashleigh, walked up the street while their kids played in the bounce house.
“Of course I feel safe leaving my kids to play,” said Buie. “This is Hamlet. I grew up here, there’s nowhere safer for families and kids.”
Hamlet City Manager Marchell Adams-David said she was, “excited to have all of the friends and visitors celebrating the Fourth with the City of Hamlet.”
Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin was on the street, chatting with former Richmond County native, and retired Army Lt. Col. Nat Rainey. Rainey is the son of Marjorie and the late Bobby Rainey.
“I’m glad to be in Richmond County celebrating this day - I was in Ellerbe earlier this morning,” said McLaurin. “I’m honored to be talking to this veteran, and thankful for his service. He’s a Richmond Senior High School graduate, and he and his family have meant a lot to this community.”
Other veterans were also celebrating Independence Day on Main Street.
“As a vet, this day represents freedom to me - and that is priceless,” said Armond Ford, owner of North & South ice cream shop on Main Street. “I don’t take this great country for granted. I get emotional thinking about the people who didn’t make it back, but it makes me happy to see people out here walking around and enjoying this day.”
Ford said his ice cream sales have been booming during the recent heat wave.
Jimmy Williams, who owns the neighboring shop in the Main Street Mini Mall called Treasures Reappear, is also a veteran.
“There’s no other way to be but free,” said Williams. “There aren’t many countries like this. I’d fight for it again.”
The sentiments of the veterans was echoed by an 11-year-old boy sitting nearby.
“I like knowing that our country is free,” said Chason Patoka.
Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.