On Thursday afternoon, hundreds of Mebanites and guests from other towns made their way to downtown Mebane for the Mebane Historical Museum’s seventh annual Fourth of July Parade. It was another festive morning, with a large crowd fighting off steamy hot temperatures with Sno Cones, along with a variety of games and other activities.
The Village Band returned once again for a morning of patriotic and other catchy tunes, while students from Mebane’s Bradford Academy led the guests in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and then joined with Headmaster Jeff Johnston in reciting various historic documents in American history.
Johnston read the introduction of the Declaration of Independence, and then joined the Bradford students in reciting segments of that famous document, as well as the Preamble of the United States Constitution.
“I think it’s appropriate that we read from the historic document that has given us this independence,” Johnston said. “That is what we’re thankful for, and that is what we’re celebrating today.”
“We hold these truths to be self evident. That all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” the Bradford children recited before going into the Preamble.
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Mayor Glendel Stephenson, set to retire this fall after decades of service to Mebane, gave his customary salute as he welcomed everyone to the parade.
“I’m hot,” he said to laughs. “But what a great day it is to be in Mebane, Alamance County, North Carolina, USA, to share with others across this great country the birth of a nation. How fortunate we are to live in a country like the United States of America, where we can enjoy a standard of living that is the envy of the world.”
“I’m glad you’re out here today,” Stephenson continued. “I’m glad millions of others across our country are out celebrating the freedom that we all enjoy. Thank you for being part of a great little growing city. I came fifty-some years ago. Mebane was 2,300 people. We’re 15,000-plus now, and continuing to grow. We’re proud you’re part of this growing city. We wish you a great Fourth of July, and the balance of 2019.”
Shortly after the Mayor’s speech, the festive crowd made its way to the corner of Jackson and Second Streets, where a local Marine Reserves Honor Guard led the way with the American flag and other various flags. Mebane resident Ron Oakley, dressed up as Uncle Sam for another year, joined with “Betsy Ross” in holding up a version of the 1776 American flag with the original 13 colonies directly behind the Honor Guard.
Behind them, children and parents rode bicycles, tricycles, and rolled scooters along Second Street before taking a right onto McKinley Street. As the parade walkers and riders prepared to take another right-hand turn from McKinley Street onto South First Street, they were welcomed by the Bradford Academy students, singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
Following an early evening rain shower, which happened to cool everything off after a sweltering week, folks began making their way to the Mebane Arts and Community Center. The Band of Oz got everyone going inside with live music in the hours leading up to the grand spectacle of the evening - the annual fireworks show put on by the City of Mebane’s Recreation and Parks staff.
The rains fortunately held off throughout the evening, providing a clear backdrop for a wide variety of colorful and vast explosives. A good-sized crowd was treated to an enjoyable spectacle that sent most everyone home with a smile on their face.
As Mebane continues to grow, so does its Fourth of July celebrations. The parade, which began as a low-key event involving just a few local families in the very beginning has turned into one of the most looked-forward to events on the summer calendar for many locals. And the evening fireworks and musical shows continue to draw in bigger crowds with each passing year.