BEAUFORT — American flags waved and sirens wailed as revelers packed Front Street Thursday afternoon for the annual Fourth of July parade through the downtown district.
Thursday marked the 243rd anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, signifying the country’s break from Great Britain. The county celebrated this year with activities throughout the day, including parades, live music performances and fireworks displays.
The Beaufort parade kicked off at 11 a.m. from Gordon Street, led by Beaufort Historic Site docent Eric Bingham dressed in Revolutionary-era clothing and holding an American flag. A fire truck decked with flags and bagpipers playing a patriotic tune closely followed. The parade grand marshal this year was Beaufort Mayor Rett Newton.
The procession included patriotically decorated floats, antique cars and marchers dressed in red, white and blue. Children scrambled for candy thrown from floats, and marchers passed out watermelon slices and cold water bottles to the crowd to help stave off the heat.
A crowd favorite, pirate reenactors with the Beaufort Pirate Invasion cracked their whips and carted around skeletons dressed in tricorn hats on a makeshift pirate ship.
Spectators came from near and far to enjoy the festivities. Mandy Ames of Beaufort said she and her family try to make it to the parade every year because it’s so close to home.
“It’s fun to get out and be with the community on the Fourth, it feels patriotic to celebrate with everyone else,” she said.
Her son, Jackson, 4, said his favorite part of the parade was the candy and the fire trucks.
“I like it when they do the sirens,” he said.
Others were a bit further from home this Independence Day. Andrew Leto of Massachusetts said he has some family in Carteret County, so he tries to make the long trip down to visit for the Fourth of July.
“It’s always a good time down here, we love coming for the beaches and fishing,” he said. “…Fourth of July is our favorite because there’s so much going on, fireworks and parades and all that. And Beaufort is so historic it’s almost like being back in time to when it was all happening. We’re happy to be here.”
An ice cream social in the courthouse parking lot followed the Beaufort parade, and a fireworks display shot off over Gallants Channel Thursday night. Morehead City, Atlantic Beach and Emerald Isle all had fireworks displays, as well, and Pine Knoll Shores hosted a parade of its own Thursday morning.
Morehead City also hosted a free concert in Jaycee Park with the Main Event Band, and Dick Knight performed at John Newton Park as part of Beaufort Music in the Park concert series Thursday evening.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.