Observer staff report
Fourth of July celebration events on Ocracoke skirted potentially inclement weather and went off with fair weather and good attendance.
Although Tropical Storm Colin had threatened the weekend activities, it was downgraded to a depression by Saturday afternoon.
The fireworks show on July 2 was delayed for several minutes because of moisture affecting the electronic ignition system, according to Darlene Styron, who coordinates the fireworks and who talked to the company afterwards.
The technicians were doing one final check when they discovered one of the ignition units wasn’t working and had to be changed out, delaying the show for several minutes, she said.
Then, about eight minutes into the show, a low firing rocket caught the surrounding grass on fire where the fireworks were set up at the end of the NPS parking lot, said Ernie Doshier, Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department assistant fire chief.
OVFD firefighters, stationed at the front of the parking lot for such occurrences, responded and hosed down the blaze within minutes. The show resumed several minutes later.
After each show, the fireworks technicians go through all of the boxes, Doshier said, and must launch ones that didn’t fire. So, before midnight, several unspent fireworks were shot off, giving the island a third, albeit brief, pyrotechnical display. Afterwards, the OVFD went back and hosed down the marsh area where the fire had erupted.
An island-wide Scavenger Hunt on Sunday saw more than 30 teams with approximately 250 people hunting for answers to clues that took them around Ocracoke Village.
An old-fashioned square dance that evening in the Berkley Barn saw about 200 people learning to “dig for the clam and dive for the oyster,” which is a dance unique to Ocracoke.
“This was a blast,” said Becky Sean Foure, of York, South Carolina, as she caught her breath following the last notes of music played by Molasses Creek.
Nancy Goodman of Forest, Virginia, noted the number of families participating.
“The young people weren’t afraid to dance,” she said.
Individuals and groups numbering 17 built sand sculptures of all kinds at the lifeguard beach the morning of July 4.
The old-time Fourth of July parade kicked off at 4 p.m. from the staging area at Wheelie Fun Golf Carts with 26 entrants, the largest number of entrants in the last several years, with 15 “wheels” entries, 10 floats and three walk-n-rolls.
Lydia Freda Spencer, 89, matriarch of Spencer clan, was grand marshal and was thrilled about it.
“I was surprised at the number of people,” she said about those lining the route. “I enjoyed it.”
She hasn’t only watched the parade, which goes by her house at Lighthouse and Creek roads. In one parade years ago, she and co-workers once represented Island Inn employees and wore string mops on their heads.
“One year we walked it in clown suits,” she said. “That was hot.”
Leading the parade were the fire trucks from the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department. Among the entrants, with varying nods to the theme of “Famous Duos,” was the Native Seafood float featuring “shrimp and grits,” a golf cart featuring Janis Joplin & the Grateful Dead’s Pigpen, two “Stars and Stripes” entries, and recently retired Hyde County sheriff captain on Ocracoke Jason Daniels driving his side-by-side with a “Thank you, Ocracoke” sign.
“It was the first time in 20 years that I was in the parade and not working it,” he said.
Although a number of entries do not adhere to the theme each year, they are not disqualified.
Bringing up the rear was the “Island Boys” float — a trailer full of fish nets, buckets and other items.
The “Krewe da Beach Band,” a large group with hand-crafted “instruments” cavorting along the road won Best of Show.
“There’s never been a band,” said crew leader Sandy Vermilyea of Kernersville, who said the effort was the work of six families who vacation at the same time each year on Ocracoke.
Island singer Desiree Christa Ricker sang the national anthem a capella before storyteller Donald Davis spun some of his classic tales at the Books to be Red lawn.
Festivities ended with a beach fire at the lifeguard beach.
Winners of the activities are as follows:
Scavenger Hunt (Sunday, July 3):
- First place Gaye Herndon group of Salisbury, NC, in 29 minutes
- Second Place: Chris Davidson group of Pittsburgh, Pa., in 34 minutes
- Third place: Kate Cavanaugh group of Winston-Salem, NC, in 36 minutes
Sand Sculpture (Monday, July 4):
All categories are voted on by beach goers.
Individual 12 & Under: James Husted (Shrimp)
Group 12 & under: Summer Friends of Ocracoke (Disney Castle)
Individual 13 & over: Dave Manthey of Monroe Falls, Ohio. (Peace sign)
Group 13 & over: Jelly Dream by Mika group of Boulder Colorado
Best in Show: On a Beach Far, Far away (baby Yoda), Mary Duskwood group of Chicago, Illinois
Parade winners (Monday, July 4):
Best Theme: Old Man & the Sea Food, Brant Godfrey family of Winston-Salem
honorable mention: Boys & Girls-America’s Future, Ocracoke Youth Center
Best Float: Sponge Bob Water Time, Art Ocracoke Gallery
honorable mention: Oelschlegel Family Remembering Cousin Soren
Best in Show: Krew da Beach Band, Theresa Selleck group, Fenton, Michigan
Best Walk & Roll: Nemo & his Anemone, Peller family, Silver Spring, Maryland
Best Wheels: Jimmy Buffet & his Greatest Hits, Cavenaugh family of Ocracoke
honorable mention: The Cat in the Hat, Blecher family of Ocracoke
The Ocracoke Civic & Business Association organizes the July 4 events with assistance from Hyde County and financed by a grant from the Occupancy Tax Board.