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Fourth of July: Pirates vie with ‘Clam-’pires and Swamp People at Pawleys Island

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

“There’s no place else I would be on the Fourth of July,” said Mike Britt, a parrot perched on his shoulder.

He surveyed the fleet of floats assembled for the Pawleys Island Fourth of July Parade as they lined up along the South Causeway. His eye stopped on “Bette’s Revenge,” sails billowing in the south breeze, its gun ports open and a hardy crew of piratical grandchildren brandishing cutlasses. It was bittersweet on a day when thousands come to celebrate.

Britt’s wife Bette died Monday after a long illness.

He has found solace in the parade before. Last year, his entry “The Spirit of Pawleys Island,” a Sopwith Camel, won Best Overall. He took the trophy straight to the hospital where his son was in critical condition after a traffic accident.

This year, he hoped the family’s entry would win Most Patriotic. The judges didn’t disappoint him.

There were 39 entries this year, a smaller field than usual. “People put a lot more thought into them,” said Lynn Gilligan, a member of the Transplants Garden Club, who judged the parade.

Britt’s family said they expect he will start planning for 2013 sometime today.

Sherrie Martin, one of the grandchildren of Louise Arrowsmith who gather at Pawleys Island for a reunion on the Fourth of July each year, said they have a different approach.

“We sit up all night the night before,” she said.

The result: “Babe-raham Lincoln ‘Clam’-pire Killer.”

The great-grandchildren, now in their 20s, have been coming to the parade since they were babies. “I’m worried the kids are going to get too old to do the float,” Martin said.

Their entry featured a group of bare-chested guys dressed as Babe Lincolns with beards, stovepipe hats and shorts in a pickup towing a boat filled with female “Clam-”pires, their white fangs gleaming as they peered from shells made out of aluminum roasting pans.

When they received the award from Mayor Bill Otis for Best Overall, there was no question that they aren’t too old.

Tom Crymes and his family proudly proclaimed “46 parades, 1 trophy, goin’ for 2.”

They won in 2008 for their Olympic crabbing team. This year they won their second trophy, an Honorable Mention, for a Top 10 list of reasons to come to Pawleys Island.

“Winning the parade” was at No. 1.

Nancy Wilson was at the first parade. Her mother, Nancy Bondurant, was the founder and first grand marshal in 1966.

Wilson rode with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, a combination that earned the trophy for Best Children.

Children also featured in the award for Best Theme, which went to the Coble and Edmunds families and friends for “Dancing with the Starfish.”

They are also past winners.

And so was the team that won Most Enthusiastic. The trophy from the town was only the latest honor for the Pawleys Island 9-10 All-Stars, a baseball team that won the Dixie Youth sub-district title last week.

Most Humorous went to the Swamp People, an entry by the DeHaas family and friends, that was a riff on the reality television show. “Viewer discretion advised,” read one sign on the truck that pulled a trailer full of kids dressed as hunters and “alluggatuhs.”

It beat out an entry by the Mills family, who staged a tea party revolt to Obamacare as the Pawleys Island Minutemen.

“What the healthcare is going on?” read one banner.

Janice Penn of Heritage Plantation took a lighter touch. “Butterflies are free and so are we thanks to our military,” proclaimed the sign on her family’s float.

“It was my turn” to pick a theme, she explained. They won Most Original for the second year in a row, with Penn and three girls dressed with butterfly wings.

The Schneider family didn’t come back for their Honorable Mention for Pawleys Island Cream Cycles, a very orange float that urged people to bike more. Habitat for Humanity’s float had to be chased down to get its Honorable Mention trophy.

Best Musical and $250 went to the Gray Men, the perennial winners.

Decorating awards went to the McCants house on the north end for “Donna Summer and the Shrimpettes” and the Hughes house on the south end for “Docky Balboa vs. Ivan Docko.” It was the fourth trophy for the Hughes family.

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