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China Grove celebrates Fourth in fashion

All roads lead to China Grove in Northern Pike County on Independence Day and folks literally come out of the woodwork to celebrate an old-fashioned Fourth of July.

A band of hippies from who knows where “crashed” the annual parade and were the talk of the town.

“The hippies added a lot of interest and fun to the parade,” said Diane LaFountaine, a China Grove resident and parade organizer. “Anything goes at the China Grove Fourth of July Parade and that’s what makes it so much fun. We appreciate those who come up with new and create ways to celebrate the Fourth as well as those who parade in the traditional kind of way.”

This year’s parade was held on Saturday because the Fourth came on Sunday. LaFountaine said a three-day weekend means that a lot of people take the opportunity to go out of town.

“But we had a great parade and a huge crowd and I don’t think that there was anyone who came that didn’t have a good time,” she said.

The parade was not the end of China Grove’s celebration of the nation’s independence.

Barbecue and burgers and dogs off the grill, free watermelon “rashers” and old-time music by the Benton Brothers provided all the “encouragement” that many needed to stay around and enjoy the fellowship of friends and neighbors.

“The China Grove parade is the perfect way to celebrate the Fourth of July,” said Faye Gaston.

“All of the red, white and blue and the happy spirit – this is the way we should celebrate our nation’s independence.”

Foy Lunsford chose a different word to express his feelings about the Fourth at China Grove.

“It’s unbelievable the number of people who enjoy this simple celebration,” he said.

“People enjoy just getting together and socializing. This is a friendly, fun place and it’s amazing how many people around long after the parade is over. This is what the Fourth of July is all about.”

The parade is a chance for folks to show off their “toys.”

For some, it might be a fine steed. For others, it’s their kids, their “wheels,” their wagons, their creativity or even their Fourth of July frocks.

“Just to see everybody showing off what they have and what they can do is worth the trip to China Grove,” said Walter Daniel.

Ken Harrison said the Fourth at China Grove is a step back in history.

“It’s clean, wholesome fun,” he said.

“The kind of place that you want to be to celebrate the Fourth.”

Reggina Richey had driven from the big city of Birmingham to attend a Fourth of July event. And, seemingly, the reverse should have true.

“This is awesome,” she said.

“It’s our first time here and it is awesome. China Grove is so far off the busy highway and then you get here and people are everywhere and having a good time.

This is our first time but we’ll be back. When there’s something like this going on and you can be a part of it, you want to be. We’ve loved every minute of it.”