June 27,  2008

Ocracoke’s July 4 celebration is an all-day event


Celebrating Independence Day is an all-day event on Ocracoke, beginning with the flag-raising ceremony at 9 a.m. and culminating with a fireworks display at 9 p.m. In between are activities for all ages to enjoy.

The Ocracoke Boy Scout troop will raise the flag at 9 a.m. at the Ocracoke School circle on School Road.

As soon as the flag is flying, the 32nd Annual Sand Sculpture Contest will get underway at 9:30. The contest is held at the Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach and is a family favorite – children can enter as individuals or in groups (judged by their age category), or along with the grownups in family groups. The competition is fierce, with amazing feats of sand engineering completed every year. Ocracoke ponies, mermaids, and Blackbeard are perennially popular, and there’s always a sculpture or two inspired by current events.

There are plenty of spectators who walk the beach marveling at the sculpture and voting for their favorite to win the People’s Choice award. Sharon Sjoblom, who’s been the volunteer organizer of the sand sculpture contest for years, announces the awards and hands out cash prizes at noon. The sculptures remain until wind and tide wash them away.

Back in the village, there’s more to do. The National Park Service brings a few of the Ocracoke ponies to the village, and puts them behind the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum from 10 a.m. until noon.  NPS staff and volunteers will be there to answers questions about the pony herd. They also allow folks to pet the ponies and feed them carrots or hay.

From 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., the Ocracoke Lighthouse is open for public viewing, a rare event. Ocracoke residents Chester Lynn and Dale Mutro volunteer each July 4 to open the lighthouse (the bottom only; the stairway is closed) and answer questions about this Ocracoke icon. Walking or biking to the lighthouse is recommended as parking is very limited.

It’s hard to miss the Classic Car show on the lawn at the Pony Island Motel on Highway 12. They’re on display from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The crowd “oohs” and “ahhs” over the mint-condition Chevys and Fords, while old men brag about the days when those cars were brand new. Many of the cars will make another appearance in the parade later in the day.

After 2 p.m. or so, it’s time to find a spot to watch the Ocracoke Old Time Parade. The parade begins at 3 and winds down through the village to the Ocracoke Preservation Museum. The parade often includes a motley assortment of pedestrians, cyclists, rollerbladers, and skateboarders of all ages, as well as decorated trucks, classic cars, and traditional floats, and lots of red, white, and blue. Ocracokers – friends, families, businesses, organizations – enter floats, but just as many parade participants are visitors. Some families come to Ocracoke year after year to join the parade. People display their patriotism, of course, but also their creativity, with entries that are funny, timely, and clever.

The parade committee made some slight changes in this year’s policies. Now all parade entries must be registered by 6 p.m. on July 3. The organizers also plan to enforce their no-alcohol, no-obscenity, and no-water balloon policies with the help of the Ocracoke deputies.

At the parade’s end, everyone will gather at the OPS Museum to hear live music performed by local musicians, followed by the singing of the National Anthem and the awarding of parade prizes.

The next event (after everyone goes home to rest and/or eat too much) is the grand finale at 9 p.m. – the fireworks! The pyrotechnic display is shot off from behind the NCCAT building (the old U.S. Coast Guard building), and can be seen from all around the harbor and village. Walking or biking to the harbor is suggested, as the NPS parking lot will be blocked off for the fireworks. (Personal possession or use of fireworks is illegal on Ocracoke, so please enjoy the official display.)

Ocracoke July 4 Celebration for 2008

Sponsored by the Ocracoke Preservation Society and the Ocracoke Civic and Business Association

9 am: FLAG RAISING CEREMONY – School Circle, School Road, Ocracoke Boy Scouts
9:30 am – noon: 32nd ANNUAL SAND SCUPLTURE CONTEST – NPS Lifeguard Beach
10 am – noon: OCRACOKE PONIES – behind the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum
10 am – 2 pm – CLASSIC CARS – lawn at Pony Island Motel Pool area
10 am – 2 pm – OCRACOKE LIGHTHOUSE – open for public viewing (walking suggested; very limited parking)
3 pm – OLD TIME OCRACOKE PARADE – must pre-register by 6 pm, July 3. Forms may be picked up at the Post Office or the OPS Museum.
PARADE ROUTE – Line up on HWY 12 beginning at Capt. Ben’s Restaurant, follow HWY 12 south, left onto Lighthouse Road, right onto Creek Rd., right onto Silver Lake Dr., follow road around Silver Lake Harbor to the OPS Museum.


AT PARADE’S END – OPS Museum – National Anthem, Entertainment, Awards for Parade Entrants

9 pm – FIREWORKS – Behind the NCCAT Campus (Walking is suggested. Large parking area will be blocked off)



The Ocracoke Parade welcomes entries in three categories: Pedestrian, Wheels (bikes, scooters, skateboards) and Floats (cars, trucks, trailers).

Registration forms are available at the Ocracoke Preservation Society Museum or the Ocracoke Post Office, and the forms can be dropped off at the OPS Museum or mailed to PO Box 792, Ocracoke, NC 27960. Registration can also be done by e-mail – simply provide a contact person’s name, home address, home phone number, and Ocracoke or cell phone number, and choose the category you wish to be in, and email it to [email protected]

Parade registrations must be received by 6 p.m. on Thursday, July 3.

All parade entrants must be in line along Highway 12 by 2 p.m. for the judges to preview the pedestrians, floats and wheels. The judges will then proceed to the Island Inn to watch the parade go by. Prizes will be awarded at the parade’s end at the OPS Museum, following the singing of the National Anthem.

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