People wanting to stay dry while celebrating the Fourth of July could go to Smithfield last Wednesday, a day before Hurricane Arthur brought rain to the Tar Heel State.
Hundreds of people came to downtown Smithfield July 2 for the annual Fourth of July celebration. The Coco Loco Party Band from Myrtle Beach, S.C., performed classic hits as people sat in lawn chairs in the shade. Some got up to dance in front of the stage, which was set up at the corner of Market and Third streets.
Kids walked around with painted faces and fireworks artwork made with pipe cleaners and paint. Local restaurants were out selling food, including hot dogs. Music started at 6:30 p.m., and fireworks went off at 9:30 p.m.
“The people, the crowd, the entertainment,” said Jennifer Ducre, 39, of Selma, describing why she enjoyed the event. “There’s things for everybody to do.” Ducre had to work on Friday, so celebrating early was perfect for her.
Crissie Lambert, 26, of Selma came with her family, including daughter Makayla Zuza, 4. Lambert came to “enjoy the fun, listen to music, and watch the fireworks,” she said. “And make some memories for her.”
Lambert wanted to celebrate early in case the hurricane washed out events on July 4. Makayla, wearing a red, white and blue headband, said she was excited to see the colors in the fireworks.
Coco Loco started off with Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” soon moving on to a variety of music, including beach music. Jeff and Annie Hinnant of Kenly got up in front of the stage to dance. They saw the event advertised online and decided to come: The couple loves going to live music shows.
“The band’s great,” Jeff Hinnant said. “They’re playing a great variety of music.”
“We love dancing,” Annie Hinnant said.
To cool off, kids and adults could compete in “Water Wars,” cage match water-balloon fights in which competitors hurled water balloons at each other using slingshots. Preston Davis competed against his stepdaughter, Lauren St. Amour.
“It’s a little cooler now,” Davis said, laughing while tugging at his drenched shirt afterward. Lauren, 6, had a little help: David Fowler, who owns Water Wars, pulled back the slingshot and aimed as she picked out the water balloon.
“We don’t have to go all the way to Raleigh,” said Lauren’s mom, Michelle Davis. “It’s not crowded.”
Celebrating on Wednesday meant they didn’t have to worry about Arthur later in the week, Preston Davis said. Plus, this left the weekend open: The couple was planning on surprising Lauren with a trip to a theme park that weekend.
Smithfield’s July 4 elebration cost about $10,000, paid mostly by sponsorships solicited by the Downtown Smithfield Development Corp. Smithfield’s Parks and Recreation Department contributed about $1,000 and games for the kids. Hale Artificer out of Lexington put on the fireworks.