HAMLET — They staked out City Lake. They packed the grass behind the Hamlet Depot. Some of them even settled for Main Street, so their kids could splash in machine-generated mist, sample their first funnel cakes or slurp snow cones.
And everywhere, there were Hamlet Police, out in not-so-subtle force: parked curbside and ringing the fairgrounds with cones, and handing out golden faux badges.
The only threat to this year’s Fourth of July fireworks appeared to come from the lowering clouds.
“We’re glad” the fireworks are back, Robbie Leviner said as he walked with his family down Main Street, toward the festivities. “(I) just hope there’s not any problems,” he said, referring to the “animals” who threatened the event — and led the city to shut it down — last year.
Leviner’s was a resounding theme. Many of the people in the streets said they had always enjoyed the Fourth in Hamlet and were glad to be able to do so again.
Frank Rogers watched as his 2-year-old son, Levi, splashed in the mist centered in front of the Tornado Building. Occasionally, Levi would fall on his fanny as the result of a mis-step, but he’d get right back up and into the flow.
“I’m a vet myself — of combat,” Rogers said as he kept a keen eye on his son while brushing off any thought of threat. “Real people don’t threaten (danger); they just do it.”
Everywhere Wednesday night, there were children.
Mom Jordan Hodgin fed stroller-bound Leo samples of his first funnel cake as siblings Christopher, Tempe and Jonathan waited patiently, all arrayed in kitschy red, white and blue. Christoper wore a lei, wristband and headband-; Tempe, a fireworks-like headband; and Jonathan, a beaded tie over a blue shirt dusted with confectioner’s sugar.
“We usually just bring a blanket and wait for the fireworks,” Hodgin said, admitting that that would come only after she let the children run off their energy.
Nearby, Deranetra Ratliff attempted to feed a somewhat reluctant Dakota Robinson, 2, a bit of snow cone.
Was she excited about the potential for double the fireworks? (Hamlet paid for the 2017 show even though it didn’t happen.)
“I hope so,” she said — “to make up for last year.”
No matter who attended Wednesday night’s event, it was difficult to top the tableau of two 10-year-olds in bright holiday garb sitting atop a brick fence post, in front of the train in Main Street Park and anticipating what was to come.
“We get to be with out families,” Elijah Hernandez said of the event as his pal, Jason Hall, beamed. “We get to be with our friends. And we get to see beautiful fireworks.”
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]