'Good day to be an American'
Despite a few scattered summer rainstorms Thursday morning, the streets of downtown Carthage were full for the town's annual Independence Day Parade.
The parade, which began at 11 a.m., featured high school bands, local law enforcement vehicles, classic cars, motorcycles and floats on the Moore Street stretch while politicians, beauty queens and veterans tossed out candy to the outstretched hands of waiting children.
"We live for the Carthage Fourth of July parade," said area resident Beverly Miles. "We plan for it every year."
Miles, her husband, Jim, and daughter, Nikki, make the annual festivities a tradition — with family members traveling from across the state to attend — followed by swimming and fireworks.
"We just love it," Miles said. "We celebrate the continuity of America. God bless the participants and the Baptist church for their work."
The First Baptist Church of Carthage provided drinks and hot dogs to thirsty and hungry parade watchers free of charge, along with information about their ministries and cancer awareness.
"Our intent is to reach out to the community," said the church's pastor, Raymond Campbell. "We want to show our love and the grace of Christ through the work of our various groups."
Campbell has been with the church for the past six months and said this was his first Carthage Fourth of July parade.
"I am very much looking forward to it," he said before the start of the festivities. "It's exciting for us to be here in this Carthage community."
This was also the first Carthage parade for Betsy Quilling, her fiancé Charlie Kleist and their children, 4-year-old Sadie and 5-month-old Liam.
"I am very impressed," Quilling said. "We are very excited to be here and see what it has to offer."
The Carthage Rotary Club sponsors the parade, and Rotary Club Assistant Governor of District 7690 Junior Ward said he was pleased with this year's parade and turnout. His favorite part, he said, was the classic cars.
Jerrold Smith Jr. said he's been in the parade before with his father but decided to watch this year's spectacle instead.
"The rain added some spice," he said. "[My favorite part was] the candy. I had some competition from the kids, but I've been doing this for a lot longer."
Siblings Kennedie Mercer, 9, and Brant Mercer, 10, both said their favorite part was the cars, along with the candy tossed from them. Their father, Billy, said the family always enjoys the parade and makes a point of returning each year.
"It's always good," he said. "We watch it every year, and it's nice to see everyone you haven't seen in a while."
Cynthia Gaddy attended the parade with her three children — Dallas, Colby and Jada — to watch the firetrucks and other law enforcement vehicles.
"It was very nice," Gaddy said. "[There was] plenty of candy, and my son was in the [Carthage] fire truck. There was a nice turnout, and the weather turned out great."
Tim and Lori Rakes watched their 14-year-old daughter, Lilly, perform on the bass drums with the Union Pines High School Marching Band and said they enjoyed the various patriotic floats.
"It's my first parade here, and it was fun," Lilly said, adding her favorite part was a goose riding in a baby carriage.
Pat Barber's 6-year-old grandson, Ramone Richardson, said she's attended the parade several times in the past and enjoys the time spent with her family.
"I like to see the horses and the different drill teams," Barber said. "It's a good day to be an American."