July 6, 2012
Independence Day on Ocracoke


Ocracoke Island celebrated America’s birthday and island life on July 4 with activities for all ages from morning until evening.
Although she didn’t win a prize in the sand sculpture contest, Eril Andes and her husband, Rod, from Ann Arbor, Mich., were among 41 entrants in the morning contest.  They happily re-created their wedding cake out of sand.

“We had never missed the sand sculpture contest,” Eril said. Two years ago the couple got married on Ocracoke. This year, they immortalized their happy event in sand.

First-time visitors to Ocracoke, Michael Nolan, Gary Wingrove, and Matt Womble, put the finishing touches on their re-creation of the Titanic.

The three were part of Team International Paramedics, an association of paramedics from eight countries that assists at trouble spots around the world, who had gathered on Ocracoke for the holiday.

“It’s a double birthday,” said Nolan, of Ottawa, Canada, taking a break from building the ill-fated liner. “Canada Day is July 1 and America’s day is today.”

The team of Brian Pompeii, Mark Blecher, Hannah Fisher and AnMargaret Warner created a sculpture of a fiddler crab—to honor the little brown crabs that skitter about the island.

“Those are the juveniles, who after their larvae stage come up on land,” explained Pompeii, a Ph.D. candidate who is doing a thesis on the cultural geography of Ocracoke.

Lindsey Bost, of Johnstown, Pa., created “Blackbeard’s Chest” and won first place in the 12-and-under group category.

Adriana Davis won first place in the under 12 individual category with her sculpture, “Dogfish, Catfish.”

Rachel Tompson won first place in the 13 and over individual category with her “Girl Sunbathing.”

The winners of the groups 13 and older were first place for “Happy Indepenguins,” a sculpture of three penguins sunning, by Helmet Heads; second-place to “Soccer Field,” by the Perez Family; and third-place to “Free Ride,” showing a mermaid riding a dolphin.

Best in Show was “Toy Shorey,” showing a sunbathing Buzz Lightyear and Woody of the movie “Toy Story.”

The first annual fig cake bake-off had 13 fig cake entries for “traditional” and “creative” categories.

Judges Kay Riddick, Dave Frum and James Barrie Gaskill deemed a cake made by Annie Lou Gaskins, of the Thurston House Inn, the winner in the “traditional” category.

“They were all excellent, but the best fig cakes are dark and moist with a good, solid texture,” noted Frum.  “This one was the best.”

Gaskins’ daughter, Donna Boor, was on hand to slice it for visitors to sample and noted that her mother makes them for sale.

“It’s her own recipe and you ain’t gonna get it,” Boor said when asked about the ingredients.

Caroline Slane won in the “creative” category, in which cakes deviated from the traditional recipe.

“This one has a lemon glaze,” said Daphne Bennink, who was sampling the cakes and doing a play-by-play live for Ocracoke Community Radio WOVV 90.1 FM.  “It has a beautiful texture and the walnuts have a nice crunch.”

The Old Time Ocracoke Parade began at 3 p.m. with vehicles from the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department and the Emergency Medical Services leading the way.

Kenny Ballance, an Ocracoke native, who will retire in October after 35 years as a National Park Service employee, was the Grand Marshal.

Decorated golf carts, costumed pirates, and floats with both humorous and political themes rode down Irvin Garrish Highway, up Lighthouse Road, down Creek Road, and back through the center of the village, ending at the Ocracoke Preservation Society headquarters where prizes were given.

Robert Rayborn, parade organizer, said 37 were registered, which was up from 27 last year.

Parade float winners were:  first-place:  Teeter’s Camp Ground, celebrating red Solo cups;
second-place:  the Parasail group, Erik O’Neal;  third-place: “Tow Mater,” a rendition of the vehicle “Mater,” of the movie “Cars,” by Van O’Neal. 

Other parade winners were as follows:

Walk and roll category: Ocracoke cheer club, first place; David Alcorn, second place; Carrie Kennedy, third place.

Wheels: Jim Piland, first; Emmett Temple, second; Kathy Bonner, third.

Best New Float: Bob Chestnut; Best Business Float: Ocracoke Coffee; Best Golf Cart: Danny Flick.

Among the other activities were the Homegrown-Handmade Market, fish-print T-shirts, the Classic Car display; a dunking booth by Boy Scout Troup 290, stories by Donald Davis, traditional square dancing in Community Square and ending with a concert in Community Square by the Boone Towne Pickers with Jon Jon Davis.

Celebration chairman Fred Westervelt was pleased with the day, noting that everything went well, although “The Herd” skydiving group was canceled at the last minute because the FAA declined to give them a permit.

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