PEMBROKE — The 49th annual Lumbee Homecoming got off to a modest start Saturday with the Bicycle Fun Ride, the first in a week-long slate of events celebrating the tribe.
The ride, which was organized by the Pembroke Kiwanis Club and the Lumbee Regional Development Association, drew a dozen cyclists to the LRDA Office Complex on Prospect Road — a smaller crowd than usual for the 6-year-old event.
“Last year, we had 25 or 26 come out,” said club President Mitchell Lowry, who attributed the low turnout to gray skies signaling the looming threat of thunderstorms. “We expected more, but I guess the weather changed everything.”
Those who did make it out to the event, which began shortly after 7:45 a.m. and cost $10 to join, said that the mid-70s temperatures allowed for a comfortable ride.
“It was a perfect day for it, but this is the smallest turnout I’ve seen,” Ray Oxendine said.
“It was humid but not very hot,” Ron Johnson said. “More people should come out next year.”
The 20-mile ride, a two-way trip from the LRDA office to the Robeson County Department of Social Services building on N.C. 711 in Lumberton, proved too great of a challenge for a handful of participants.
While following the cyclists in his truck, Lowry picked up three people who were unable to complete the ride.
“In the military, we called it ‘straggler control,’” he said.
This year’s ride was dedicated to the late Henry “Ed” Teets, who was a member of the Kiwanis Club for 35 years.
“He was very supportive of the events we did in Kiwanis,” Lowry said. “He had an outgoing personality and hardly ever missed a meeting.”
Lowry lauded the health benefits of bike riding and said he hopes to see more residents peddling in the future.
“Personally, I’d like to see more people biking, and not only during events,” he said. “Especially in Robeson County, with the obesity rates we have, it would be very helpful.”
Lowry said that homecoming marks an important occasion for members of the Lumbee Tribe.
“It gives people time to come back home. So many Lumbees live away from here and all across the country,” he said. “It gives them a chance to come back and visit family and old friends and socialize.”
Other homecoming events held Saturday included a golf tournament at Pinecrest Country Club in Lumberton and the Lumbee Warriors Veteran’s Military Ball, which took place at Porter Plaza in Pembroke.
Events scheduled for today include the Lumbee Games wrestling championships at 12:30 p.m. at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke; a Farewell Tea event at 3 p.m. at Berea Baptist Church in Pembroke; and a Gospel Singalong, which will be held at 6 p.m. at Mt. Airy Baptist Church in Pembroke.
Events scheduled for Monday include the opening of the Lumbee Outdoor Market at 9 a.m. The market will remain open through Saturday and is located at 636 Prospect Road in Pembroke.
Also scheduled for Monday is the 2014 Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina Senior Ms. Lumbee Pageant, which will be held at 5:30 p.m. at Robeson Community College in Lumberton.
For a full schedule of events, visit lumbeehomecoming.com, or call 910-521-8602.