For more than 40 years, the Mountain Park Ruritan Club has brought the community together to celebrate the Fourth of July, and this year, the 43rd year, will continue that tradition.
The day-long event , which is held on July 4, begins with a parade at 10 a.m., with line-up starting at 9 a.m., and ends after dark with fireworks. Throughout the day, there will be games and activities, crafts, food for sale, bounce houses, pony rides, wrestling, a cornhole tournament, train rides and music.
Arlene Snow, a member of the Ruritan club, said line-up for the parade will be at Charity Hill Baptist Church, 423 Union Hill Road, Thurmond, and anyone who wants to can participate in the parade. “There are always lots of antique and classic cars, trucks and tractors, and some of them park on the ball field afterward so visitors can go through and look at them,” Snow said.
Other parade participants include area emergency vehicles, handmade floats, and more, she said.
Once the parade makes its way from the church to the Mountain Park Elementary School grounds, the rest of the day’s activities kick into gear. At about 11 a.m., the National Anthem is sung by Rachel Hinson and a prayer is held, and then the performers take the stage.
This year’s entertainment will include Saved By The Cross, Summit Trace, Luke Mears, Thirteenth Tribe, Mountain Park Old Time Band, and Heather Coe Cox, a finalist on American Idol and who will be auditioning for The Voice in the fall. The feature band, Coco Loco Party Band, will take the stage at about 6 p.m.
The Ruritan club will host two booths this year, one for concessions of Pizza Hut pizza and drinks and the other to sell raffle tickets, T-shirts featuring the Mountain Park 4th of July logo, cornhole tournament sign-up, sign-ups for veterans recognition, lost and found, and providing flyers for the day’s events and times.
Raffle tickets for the $1,000 giveaway are $10 each and they can be purchased until the drawing, which is held in the evening.
Veterans are recognized on the main stage at 2:30 p.m., and other activities available include bounce houses from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 4 to 8 p.m. for an unlimited $5 ticket; train rides; cornhole tournament at 4 p.m.; pony rides beginning at 11 a.m.; a kiddie tractor pull at 3 p.m.; and games on the ball field for all ages beginning at 1 p.m. and including egg toss, sack race, water balloons, wheelbarrow race, softball and more. Also, there will be face painting and wrestling.
A canned food drive will be held to benefit the Foothills Food Pantry in Dobson, and the American Red Cross blood drive will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Mountain Park Volunteer Fire Department adjacent to the school property.
Snow said the celebration “is a chance for people in the community to fellowship together and to see people they haven’t seen for years because people come from al over the state and beyond. It’s like a giant family reunion.
“And in this day and age in which we live, it’s the closest thing you’ll find to ‘the way things used to be when it was a simpler time,’ where your kids can run and play and have fun yet still be safe,” she said. “And even if you’re new to the area and don’t know anyone, you’ll have a great time because there’s so much food and fun things to do and watch.”
The Ruritan club, which Snow describes as a small group who is proud to be able to give back to the community, holds fundraisers throughout the year to be able to afford to put on the Fourth of July Celebration each year. “It is a major undertaking to pay for the fireworks, Port-a-jons, event insurance for the day,” she said.
The day’s events culminate with a fireworks show at about 9:30 p.m.
The Mountain Park Ruritan Club is a nonprofit organization which exists to serve and help the community and surrounding area, Snow explained. The members raise money throughout the year to be able to have the celebration and to help keep up the park and make improvements. The group also has a $1,000 scholarship it awards each year to a Surry Community College student. Also, they assist the backpack food program at Mountain Park Elementary School, and help families who have suffered loss such as fire or other needs.
Members of the group include Co-Presidents Junior and Joyce Andrews, Luke Andrews, Ralph and Peggy Williams, Bill and Stellar Nixon, Dean and Linda Wood, Phil and Phyllis Harris, Joe and Melissa Snow, Arlene Snow, Jim Hammond, Chris and Laura Willingham, Harold “Hub” and Elizabeth Hubbard, Leo and Shirley Weller, Raleigh and Maria Scales and Sarah Hammond.
For more information about the event, or to purchase a raffle ticket, call 336-813-5376 or 336-874-7112.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.