LUMBERTON — Triple-digit temperatures won’t be enough to keep Robeson County from celebrating the nation’s 236th birthday this week.
Maxton kicks off the fun at 5 p.m. today with a series of activities and food vendors at Beechum Park. Budget cuts snuffed out the town’s usual fireworks display, but Mayor Sallie McLean said there will still be plenty for people to enjoy during the festivities.
On the heels of Maxton’s celebration is Fairmont, which has the first fireworks presentation in the county at 9:30 p.m. Sunday in the Fairmont Community Park. Fireworks will explode across the sky for about 25 minutes. Before the fireworks, the band Too Much Sylvia will serenade guests from 5 to 9 p.m. with beach music, oldies and Top 40 hits.
During the festivities, attendees can enjoy food and beverages provided by vendors, face-painting, activities for children and other attractions.
Mayor Charles Kemp estimates at least 1,500 people will gather at the park on Sunday.
“That’s not counting the people parked on the open grassy lots around town, parked on the sides of curbs, sitting, watching it from their front porches,” he said. “… It’s just grown. It’s exploded. There are no other words to use to describe the July Fouth celebration fireworks in our town.”
Next up will be Lumberton’s Family Fourth Celebration, which begins at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday at the Lumberton High School football stadium. Ralph Ussery, a member of the Community Relations Commission that organizes the event, said it’s been a staple in Lumberton for at least 15 years.
“We’re just celebrating our freedom, that we are free to speak our own terms, go to church where we want to,” Ussery said. “We don’t have to bow down to anyone; it’s just a great country. We’re celebrating the fallen women and men before us that give us this freedom. We just thank them for their presence, in our minds and our spirits.”
After a welcome, an invocation and the national anthem, the Army Rangers will freefall onto the 50-yard line of the field at about 8:20 p.m.
“It’s real exciting to see them come out of the airplane,” Ussery said. “When the chute first opens up, they’re way away from the field. They just float closer and closer and closer. When they hit the mark on the field in the middle, just a big roar comes up from the crowd.”
The Carolina Breakers will perform until about 9:30 p.m., when Zambelli Fireworks Manufacturing Company puts on fireworks display that lasts about 20 minutes.
Admission is free, but thousands of people usually end up watching the show from nearby parking lots or even the yards of their own homes.
The Lumberton High School marching band will be selling concessions during the event. Inflatable bouncers will also be available for children.
Ussery said that people will not be allowed to sit on the field during the event.
The town of Parkton will hold its annual celebration on Wednesday beginning at 9:30 a.m. The colorful parade will kick off from the school at about 11:30 a.m., and will be followed by food, entertainment, games and activities on the town square.
Also on Wednesday, the town of Rennert will have a parade through town beginning at 10 a.m. Afterward people can gather in town for food and drinks, gospel singing and more.
The Red Springs Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday will host a celebration at the Community Building from 3 to 6:30 p.m. Hot dogs, chips and drinks will be available for purchase. Chamber members are also selling raffle tickets for cash prizes of $200, $300 and $500.
Gospel music groups are being sought to participate in the event. Anyone interested in taking part is asked to call Fran Ray at 910-843-7100 or 910-671-7014.
St. Pauls will mark the celebration with its third annual fireworks show at sunset on Wednesday behind the Piggly Wiggly. Organizers of that show are seeking donations toward the cost of the show, which can be made by contacting the St. Pauls Fire Department at 910-865-4603.
The celebrations will go out with a bang at the Lumbee Homecoming celebration in Pembroke, which will have a fireworks show on July 7 at 9 p.m. at the Lumbee Regional Development Association. Organizers are expecting more than 5,000 people at that event.