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Fourth of July: Under the red, white and blue

Pawleys Island: A slice of Americana with international flavor

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Two floats mocking the Uruguayan soccer player Luis Suarez and two Danes surfing atop a Chevy station wagon gave the Pawleys Island Fourth of July Parade an international flair. And the float that took home the trophy for Best Overall was loaded with enough absurdity to make a French existential philosopher crack a smile.

There were also plenty of cute kids and waving flags among the 54 floats that joined in the 48th annual parade. The family of the parade’s founder came away with the trophy for Best Children. Nancy Johnston remembered when her grandmother Nancy Bondurant first gathered up a group to celebrate the Fourth of July for a soldier about to return to Vietnam in 1966. That began the tradition. “We used to bring the decorations down from Virginia,” she recalled as she watched her own grandchildren finish decorating Pawleys Island Tot Chefs, putting a spin on the reality television show. Her daughters Sally Keyser and Leigh Jackson joined them on the float with toques and flags.

The extended Townsend family was on its third generation of float decorators with another reality TV theme: “The Krabdashians.” They filled a boat with kids wearing crab hats.

“We turned it over to them,” said Allison Townsend Reaves, who recalled that when they started attending back in the 1970s banging on pots and pans was the favored mode of expression.

The Krabdashians got the trophy for Most Humorous.

The parade was part of a larger lesson in American history for the kids in Miss Flo’s Red, White and Blue summer camp. They rode in a float draped with bunting beneath a figure of Capt. Morgan who had one foot on a chest and held a sign that read “We Treasure Our Future.” On the side, the sign said, “We Treasure Our Troops.” That added up to a trophy for Most Patriotic.

“We were thrilled to death,” said Flo Phillips, who held the camp at her home in Waverly. She’s watched the parade for years from her family’s homes on the island, but this was her first parade.

“Pawleys is worth melting for,” claimed the Howard family float, drawing its theme from the movie “Frozen.” It won for Most Enthusiasm with a boat load of ice princesses blowing bubbles, juggling paper “snowballs” and waving flags.

The only one in the Pelican Inn’s trailer didn’t win any points for enthusiasm, but it did win for artistry. A larger-than-life pelican made from tufts of colored paper earned the trophy for Most Original.

The Grey Men, who trace their origins to a band created by a group of high school friends, reclaimed the trophy, and a $250 check, for Best Musical. Last year’s trophy went to a recording of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” in a float by the Mills family satirizing Mark Sanford’s return to politics. That was the first time the Millses won the music prize, but they have a shelf of other trophies.

This year, the Millses won Most Original for “The Last Selfie.” It was as if “Jaws” had collided with social media with self-portraitists on the bow of a boat oblivious to the cardboard shark devouring the boat’s stern. “It’s a metaphor,” said Bert Mills, “for things coming up to bite you in the butt.”

Pointing to the hashtaged messages such as “#weneedabiggerboat,” he added, “they’re tools. They’re not life.”

“That’s life,” he said, pointing to the shark.

For the Roberts family, life began in the “Jean Pool.” Denim-clad celebrants tossed gum labeled “DNA” to the spectators. One held a sign boasting “I Got the Skinny Genes.” They won one of six Honorable Mentions.

“We were real worried about the humor,” Becky Roberts said.

Gene Fox worried about finding a place to park at the parade. So two days before the parade he and his family decided to enter. He put his stepson and a friend, both from Denmark – as is his wife – on a surfboard atop his 1994 Chevy station wagon. Dressed in red, white and blue, they rode the wave to an Honorable Mention.

“I’ve got to make them as American as I can,” Fox said.

Luis Suarez, who gained notoriety for biting an Italian player during the World Cup, popped up as a soccer zombie on the deHaas family float, “World Cup Z,” which also promoted the Netherlands team, the family favorite. The Suarez name was also on the jersey of the gator in the Hutchinson family float, “The Real Swamp” people. Both were also Honorable Mention winners.

The folks from the Barefoot Barista won an Honorable Mention for a 60s-theme van colored with slogans and peace symbols towing a decorated Jet Ski. The Joseph family won for “Fishing for Compliments,” that had kids with poles dangling paper fish decorated with puns. “Turtley awesome,” read the fish that Lauren Joseph handed the judges.

Murrells Inlet: Founders are the catch of the day

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Robby and Joye Byrum put a Murrells Inlet twist to a Mount Rushmore theme to win the inlet’s annual Fourth of July boat parade last week.

The Byrums employed most of their family to turn their boat into “Mount Rushmullet” as their salute to the Founding Fathers, the parade’s theme this year.

Phil Teague, Bill Ray, Chad Kennedy and Beau Byrum agreed to portray the four presidents: Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. Their heads protruded from “stone” that Robby Byrum created from wood, wire and felt with a little paint to give it shadows. The presidents wore wigs and sunglasses as they stood inside the “stone” mountain and held the boat’s handrail. Robby Byrum said he originally thought the costumes should be more realistic but “what the heck, it is Mount Rushmullet,” he said. Joye Byrum and Brenda Teague were on the bow with granddaughter Lane Byrum. Other grandchildren on the boat were Kensey Byrum and Haley and Wade Kennedy.

Bill and Laura Crowther took second place on their first try in the boat parade. Bill dressed as Ben Franklin, and 11-year-old Luke Scherer, son of friends from Maryland, was “Little Ben.” Laura was dressed as Betsy Ross and sewed an American flag during the parade. Emma and Lia Scherer were onboard as the Statue of Liberty and Pocahontas. “The kids had a blast,” Bill said. “They’ve already asked if they can come back next year.”

Andrea and Larry McCoy were third. “It’s the most difficult theme we’ve had,” Andrea said. Their boat featured George Washington and other Founding Fathers in pictures with a school of red, white and blue fish swimming along the bottom of the boat representing life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

“It was a lot of fun,” Andrea said. “We decorated when we got there and had no idea what it looked like.”

Ed Burzler and David Miller were awarded honorable mentions for their boats in the parade.

Ron and Linda Mathews won the dock decorating contest with a salute to the nation’s Founding Fathers as well as the boat parade’s founding fathers, Bob Hendrick and Lee Hewitt. Their daughter Teague Mathews designed saluting cardboard sea creatures: starfish, dolphin, crab, sea turtle and flounder. Everyone on the dock shook red, white and blue pompoms. In the background, Arlene Degges sang “God Bless America.”

“Every year I try to plan ahead and think of what to do, and every year it never comes to me until about three or four days before the fourth,” Teague Mathews said. “This year we had the tropical storm come the day before so my friend Eric and I had to do all the drawing and cutting out of the sea life in my father’s garage. It is a lot of work and a group effort. We are very blessed to have so many good friends and family come help us celebrate.”

Dexter and Kelly Dorman took second place in the dock decorating contest. “We did Founders and Flounders Band World Tour,” Kelly Dorman said. Children were dressed in powdered wigs and played “Living in America” on guitars, saxophone, drugs and a keyboard. Three flounder characters danced in the background with Founding Father groupies in a grouper pit holding signs saying “Marry me, Abe” and “Holler for a dollar, George.”

Leon and Jan Rice were third with a “House Divided” theme at their creek house, Marshmere. It featured farmer and Murrells Inlet founder John Murrell, played by Judson Rice, doing battle with the pirate Blackbeard, played by Chris Cobb. The pirates forced Jeorg Talbert to walk the plank as the judges’ boat passed the dock. The pirates spent the rest of the parade squirting water at the passing boats.

Hayley Swatzel and Danny and Janet Miller were awarded honorable mentions for their docks.

North Litchfield: A parade for kids of all ages

By Jason Lesley
Coastal Observer

Observers called this year’s Fourth of July golf cart parade at North Litchfield the biggest and best.

“We’ve seen it for three years,” said Bettye Cecil of North Litchfield. “It gets better every year.”

There’s no registration fee — and only one rule — to join in the July 4 fun. Golf carts decorated in red, white and blue rolled along the parade route with participants tossing candy and beads to people lining the streets. (Internal combustion engines aren’t allowed.) Uncle Sam and Elvis were popular figures.

“Nothing says America like Elvis on a surfboard,” said Eric Griffin of Charlotte. He was vacationing with a group of about 20 people celebrating fellow Charlottean William Sloan’s 50th birthday. Griffin’s wife, Wendy, said the family comes to North Litchfield every year for the week of July 4. They have been content to watch the parade so far. “We don’t have a golf cart — yet,” Wendy said.

Barkley, a brown Dachshund, watched his sixth North Litchfield parade with owners Bo and Sally Walpole of Nashville, Tenn. “It was awesome” Sally said, “the biggest one we’ve seen in several years.” She loved the golf carts decorated with a shark and a lobster, a boy dressed as Elvis and the “man-kinis,” guys wearing coconut shells as bikini tops with plastic grass skirts. The Walpoles and relatives from Memphis visit North Litchfield residents Ernie and Donna Taylor during the week of the Fourth for an annual family reunion.

Caleb Taylor, 9, of Birmingham, Ala., said he liked the golf cart with the shark on top. Nate Brabham, 10, of Columbia spent his time picking up a grocery bag full of candy off the road.

While most planned their morning around the parade, it was a pleasant surprise for Christine Hickey of Baltimore, Md. She was out for a morning run and saw all the golf carts lining up. Her son Rowan, 3, collected a big pile of candy with the help of grandparents Marie and Pete Lembo of Wake Forest, N.C.

“It’s a great town,” Marie said. “We love it.”

One golf cart bore a sign that said “In honor of Cpl. Stephen Kutch, U.S. Marine Corps.”

“I loved that,” said Susan Winburn of Greer. “Without our people in service we would not be waving flags today.”

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