LIBERTY — With a name like Liberty, youd expect a town to shine the fire engines for the Fourth of July parade, trot out the mayor in an Uncle Sam hat and blow the sky apart with more fireworks than they set off at Disney World.
But they wont. Not on Wednesday, anyway. This Randolph County town, with the states most patriotic name, will throw its America party on Saturday three days late.
You can get half-off on fireworks, explained Roger Davis, town manager.
The thinking goes like this: With a population of some 2,800, Liberty would have a hard time luring people away from holiday fireworks shows in Raleigh and Greensboro or even the fishing booth at nearby Randleman.
But by waiting each year until the Saturday after the Fourth, when rockets red glare sells at a 50-percent discount, Liberty can throw a wingding that lures 80 percent of the towns residents, draws curious out-of-town visitors, brings 60 vendors, 10 food trucks and an all-day lineup of bands, including Rough Cut, The Shell-Tones and Lightnin.
That can push the holiday as far back as July 11 in years when Independence Day actually falls on Saturday. But Liberty figures, correctly so far, that party-goers will save up some of their flag-waving oomph for the weekend.
Its probably the only time all year we have traffic, Davis said.
Five years ago, Liberty had no Independence Day party at all, and the holiday passed as quietly as the public library on a Tuesday afternoon. The chance to create something special hung like a piñata, waiting for Liberty to swing.
Even though the town is named for an antebellum plantation, its too colorful to sit out the spectacle of July Fourth. Liberty is home to Craig Kirkman, world skeet champion. The Chamber of Commerce is housed inside a red caboose. Theres an ocean mural painted on the back of Hurricane Janes restaurant, which also boasts fake palm trees.
Even in June, flags hung from every telephone pole downtown, not to mention the tricolor bunting on the cupcake shop or the plywood Old Glory hanging in the guitar store window. Carol Walls thrift store, Awesome Finds, sells a flag-themed teddy bear. Carolyn Vickrey decorates the mannequin in her dress shop window in Betsy Ross attire.
Her flag has six stars, Vickrey said. Shes still working on it.
Come July 7, 1,000 people will be standing in the darkened ball field at Liberty Elementary, faces lit green and red, oohing and aahing. More will park their trucks along the street and watch from the bed. Nobody in Liberty minds the shows three-day delay.
Most of them can see it from their house, said Debbie Adams, chamber director. I always drive to my moms boyfriends backyard.
Remember that, at least according to urban legend, King George III wrote in his diary that on July 4, 1776, nothing of importance happened, and that independence from England didnt truly arrive until 1783 the end of the Revolutionary War.
So the town with the flag-waving name embraces the spirit of libertys slow but certain coming just as welcome if a little tardy.
Shaffer: (919) 829-4818