There wasn’t much evidence of Hurricane Arthur at the Hanover Arts and Activities Center’s annual Fourth of July festivities Friday except some strong winds.
“We kept being asked, “Are you gonna cancel? Are you gonna cancel?” and I can never remember a time when it had rained at all, let alone canceling [the event],” said Paige Christy, coordinator of the Fourth of July celebration and HAAC board member. “I know we’ve never had to cancel before.”
And skies were clear, the sun was shining and the weather was cool.
As a result, there were smiles on the faces of all attendees and not to mention there was an abundance of red, white and blue shirts, hats and bandanas at the parade and lawn festivities.
Not only is the event celebrating the obvious — the country and its independence, but Christy said the center designed it to rejoice for something else each year, too.
“It’s a celebration of our community spirit,” Christy said.
“We like to do it as a give back to the community, too,” she added.
For some, the parade and lawn festivities were a new experience but for many it’s been a part of their family’s tradition.
“Families have grown up being a part of the activities on the lawn and a couple of the families actually have been a live part of the celebration here,” Christy said.
Alan Abbott and his family of five, including him and his wife, attend the event every year and help out in any way they can.
“This is really what makes Ashland home— these kind of celebrations, getting together with the whole town and it’s just small town Americana,” Abbott said.
For Abbott, the best part about the event is the parade. He said his family usually rides a four-wheeled bicycle.
“I love the non-motorized [procession] and how the pets are a part of it,” Abbott said. “Just everyone of all ages gets to be wacky.”
The Funk family members aren’t foreigners to the Ashland celebration either. Allan Funk said they have attended it for the past 14 years and most of the time they run a food booth with popcorn, pie and water for sale to support the center.
When they first moved into town, Funk said they had an ice cream shop in town and for several years the family would sell ice cream at the annual event.
“It’s just a fun thing to do,” Funk said. “You get to see everybody.”
“[It’s] a family tradition I think, kind of like going to the beach every year,” he added.
At the event, his daughter agreed and both said they really enjoy seeing other residents who they don’t always get to visit.
“Everyone’s in one spot,” Funk said. “It’s a good time.”
Some years, Funk said, his two children will participate in the parade and be a part of the procession alongside some of the dog participants.
The event means much more to them than a tradition they take part in each year, Funk said the community aspect and celebrations like this one is part of the reason why he and his wife, Lisa, moved to Ashland from Charlotte, N.C.
“We wanted to raise our kids in a small town, so we searched out for a small town and found Ashland just for things like this,” Funk said. “You don’t find these things everywhere. It’s a great thing.”