N.C. Fourth of July Festival now underway in Southport

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A parade through downtown Southport is among the events included in the annual N.C. Fourth of July Festival. Courtesy photo.
A parade through downtown Southport is among the events included in the annual N.C. Fourth of July Festival. Courtesy photo.

The state’s largest Independence Day celebration is now underway in the “Happiest Seaside Town in America.”

Southport–which earned that latter designation through an online poll by home and travel magazine, Coastal Living–is also home to the long-running N.C. Fourth of July Festival, already in full swing and continuing throughout the week.

In addition to tours of the Old City Jail in Southport from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m., today’s highlights include a Beach Day in nearby Oak Island.

The all-day event features a sand sculpture competition at 1 p.m., lots of children’s activities and games and a shag contest at 7:30 p.m. Gary Lowder and Smokin’ Hot round out the festivities with a free concert at 6 p.m. in Middleton Park. The night ends with a fireworks display starting around 9 p.m.

Thursday, the street fair sets up in Southport with food vendors along Howe Street, arts and crafts at Franklin Square Park, and a rotating line-up of live music on the main stage at the Southport waterfront.

Free children’s entertainment–including face painting, crafts, singing and dancing–is held from 9 a.m. to noon Thursday at Keziah Park, at the corner of W. Moore and S. Lord streets.

A veteran’s recognition ceremony, featuring live entertainment from the Letters From Home Singers, is set for 6 p.m. at the Southport Community Building, 203 E. Bay St. Refreshments will be served, and admission is free.

The festival’s popular naturalization ceremony is held at 4 p.m. Friday on the lawn of the Garrison House. Brunswick Concert Band will perform a free concert at 3 p.m. ahead of the ceremony. At 6 p.m., a flag retirement ceremony will be performed at the BB&T flagpole, 104 S. Howe St.

Then, on Saturday, the annual parade takes over the streets downtown Southport with more than 100 floats, cars and participants. The parade starts at 11 a.m., with a flag raising ceremony preceding it at 10:30 a.m.

Cape Fear Cruisers will head down the same route before the parade begins, ending at the waterfront on Bay Street for its Shine and Show Classic Car Show from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. On the waterfront, sailboats will pepper the horizon starting at 2 p.m., when the Cape Fear Yacht Club/State Port Pilot Commodore’s Regatta gets underway.

Pro wrestling will be held on the Garrison lawn from 3 to 5 p.m., with live music continuing on the main stage.

And at 9 p.m. the festival officially concludes with its signature stellar fireworks show gets underway, fired from a barge in the Cape Fear River.

There are more events and activities scheduled throughout the rest of the week. Click here for a full list.