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By Ocracoke Observer staff
The three days of Independence Day celebrating on Ocracoke this week was capped with a community beach bonfire Thursday night under spectacular clouds and a dark, starry night at the Lifeguard Beach.
About 100 islanders and visitors enjoyed toasting marshmallows over the fire built by Rob King.
But before the holiday festivities concluded, a fireworks show July 3 and a new event, “Ocra-Glow” Dance Party at the Community Park ball field with Emerald Owl Productions July 4, added “wow” factors.
About 870 people attended the family-friendly glow-in-the-dark party to jump in a pile of foam, play with giant water guns, don glowing necklaces and dance in the infield to popular tunes.
“It was amazing,” said Janille Turner, co-owner of Ocracoke Oyster Company and a glow party sponsor, echoing many others. She said she hadn’t know what to expect when she arrived at the ball field.
But then she saw the “foam pit” and the huge crowd dancing under the laser lights.
“It was the most fun I ever had,” she said. “I’m already reserving my glow items for next year.”
The five dollar admission proceeds benefitted Ocracoke Youth Center.
Holiday festivities began Tuesday evening with a community square dance in the newly built Berkley Manor Barn.
Emerald Owl Productions of Emerald Isle, Carteret County, provided warm-up dance music for the crowd gathered at the National Park Service dock area before the professional fireworks show by Pyrotechnico of New Castle, Pa., lit up the night sky over Silver Lake Harbor.
As they waited for the fireworks to begin, David and Regina Woods of Claxton, Tennessee, said they were enjoying their first ever visit to Ocracoke and camping with Felicia Beets and her daughter Aliyah at the NPS campground.
Emerald Owl continued their musical accompaniment of patriotic songs during the aerial display.
Sail-boaters Enrique and Kathryn Garcia of Oriental, who were visiting for the first time for July 4, made a point to thank Mike Meyer, owner of Emerald Owl Productions, for playing “Coming to America,” by Neil Diamond, during the fireworks.
“It included everybody,” Kathryn said.
A full day of activities continued on July 4, beginning with a chance to see the new foal, Winnie, at the NPS pony pens and the Flag Raising ceremony at the Ocracoke School circle, led by Assembly of God Pastor Ivey Belch. Desiree Christa Ricker sang the national anthem.
Twenty-four individuals and groups signed up for the annual Sand Sculpture contest at the Lifeguard Beach.
A large rendition of a mermaid, “Island Siren,” by the Johnson Clan of Scottsdale, Pennsylvania, captured Best in Show, determined by voting by all those viewing the sculptures and wishing to vote.
“Island Siren” also captured first place in the Group 13 and Over category, with honorable mention to the “Helmet Heads” of Brooklyn, New York.
Sandy Boos, one of three judges of the four categories, noted that they looked for how much detail and effort were put into the sand creations.
“There was a lot of creativity, a lot of thought, put into them,” she said.
She especially noted a couple of the sculptures that were interactive, such as “Shell-fie” and a shark with its mouth open in which people could stand for photo opps.
“They did a lot of out-of-the-box things,” she said.
Other winners in that event were as follows:
INDIVIDUAL 12 and Under:
First Place: “Feline Good,” by Phoebe Pinder, Glencove, NY
Honorable Mention: “Starfish,” by Zoe Oelschlegel of Philadelphia, PA
INDIVIDUAL 13 and Over
First Place: “Summer Lovin’” by Kate Highsmith of Concord, NC
Honorable Mention: “Tiny Castle,” by Barbara Oelschlegel of Philadelphia, PA
GROUP 12 and Under:
First Place: “Ocracanians”
Honorable Mention: “Teach’s Booty,” by the DeCheser Family of West Orange, N.J.
Island artist Susan Dodd created special best-in-show trophies for the sand sculpture and parade winners.
Jimmy Jackson rounded up a number of old and unusual cars for the Classic Car Show on the Pony Island Motel lawn.
The old-fashioned Ocracoke parade, organized by Robert Raborn, went off without a hitch with a mix of visitors and islanders on floats, in golf carts and walking, and led by island law enforcement, EMS and the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department.
The Ocracoke School Dolphin cheerleaders won Best in Show as they charmed the crowds lining the parade route with their cheers.
Ocracoke Coffee Company’s rendition of a pot of coffee pouring steaming water into cup captured Best Float.
“Thanks a latte!” yelled one of the women on the float.
Honorable mentions went to Tim Barnette of Ocracoke with his “Merican Munchie” ensemble and also to the N.C. Ferry Division’s float, “Ocracoke Express,” depicting a replica of the soon-to-be-operational passenger ferry, replete with Blackbeard at the helm.
While several Blackbeards could be spotted throughout the parade, the cast of “A Tale of Blackbeard,” Julia Howard’s musical play about the last days of the pirate on Ocracoke captured Best Blackbeard honors.
Julie DeCheser of West Orange, NJ, in a blow-up tyrannosaurus rex costume as “Walking Dinosaur”won first place in Walk & Roll and Morgan Arnold of Wilmington, N.C., as “Stars & Stripes Flying Eagles,” captured first in the Wheels category.
Storyteller Donald Davis’s humorous and poignant tales at the stage on the Books To Be Red lawn preceded the awards announcements.
Then, the island’s first Ocra-Glow Dance Party that night at Community Park ball field with Emerald Owl Productions provided the July 4 evening’s “wow” factor as approximately 870 people attended the family-friendly event to jump in a pile of foam, play with giant water guns, don glowing necklaces and dance in the infield to popular tunes.
“It was fantastic!” was the sentiment most frequently heard.
The three-day event was put on by the Ocracoke Civic & Business Association, with assistance from Hyde County and the National Park Service.