This Independence Day had all the makings of a great one. After all, the Fourth of July fell on a Friday, setting everyone up for a three-day weekend of fun and fireworks.
Then, Hurricane Arthur began to take aim at Havelock, and a little bit of chaos mixed with celebration plans.
Arthur’s threat was much worse than reality. In essence, the Havelock area got a couple of breaks, the biggest of which was the storm’s fast movement. At landfall in neighboring Carteret County, Arthur was moving at 21 mph, fast for a hurricane and so fast that the area endured the worst of the storm for about only five or six hours. The quick-moving storm didn’t have the time to drop flooding rains, nor did it produce long periods of high winds that eventually just wear down trees and structures.
Also, Arthur was not a direct hit on the Havelock area. Some late forecast models had the eye going right over Havelock, but instead it slipped a few miles east of us, sparing the city the highest winds.
Still, many areas of the city lost electricity, but credit goes to the power crews for getting it restored quickly, and we have to give credit to Havelock police officers who manned intersections to direct drivers around inoperable traffic signals.
And then we should give credit to the city’s public works employees who were out quickly on Friday morning assessing damage. They also went to work clearing Havelock City Park and Walter B. Jones Park of storm debris so the city’s Fourth of July Freedom Festival could take place — even if a day late.
We believe the city made the right choice on postponing the event for a day as a precaution. Rather than having people without power and without access to the Internet guessing as to if the event would take place the day after a hurricane, the city made the decision early to postpone it. That meant that everyone had that information available before the storm hit.
As it turned out, the Freedom Festival probably could have been on Friday, but clearly officials could not have guessed that Arthur would cause so little damage. And, judging by the huge crowd that turned out on Saturday, the one-day delay had no effect on the event, the festivities or the mood of all those attending.
Havelock’s Independence Day celebration is unique. It’s not just fireworks. It’s a whole afternoon of games and entertainment. The Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest may get all the national publicity, but we’d put Havelock’s Fourth of July pie-eating contest up against it any day. The contestants have fun with it, and the crowd really gets into the competition.
Of course, there are sack races, egg relay races and a Hula Hoop contest, all of which may be old-fashion to some, but they offer quite the entertainment value to all the participants and their parents. And don’t get us wrong. We see quite a few parents out there participating as well.
This year also marked a performance by the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Band at Cherry Point, and what a performance it was. The band certainly highlighted the festival with a variety of entertaining music. Who knew that Marines could sing like that?
The band played for two hours and set the stage for the fireworks show at Walter B. Jones Park. Children were busy playing with sparkles but instantly turned to the sky as the first salvo of the show went off.
We’re happy Arthur did not cause more problems than it did. We’re happy for the many vendors who provided drinks and food at the Freedom Festival. We’re happy the 2nd MAW band provided such great entertainment. We’re happy so many people came out to the festival to celebrate the Fourth of July, even if the celebration took place on the Fifth.
It just goes to show that there is no bad day to celebrate our freedom.