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Generation to generation, Faith Fourth celebrates America

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FAITH — Every year, people go to great lengths to attend and enjoy the Fourth of July parade in Faith. They are creatures of habit, too.

“Everybody has their spot, and you know where to look for everybody by their spots,” Carole Hopkins said just before the parade started Wednesday.

Hopkins’ place each year happens to be in a church parking lot on Main Street. Her uncle, Meredith Daniel, claimed the spot by driving here at 2:30 a.m. and sleeping in the cab of his pickup.

Hopkins and her family have things down to a science. They erect a portable tent over the back of the pickup, line their folding chairs arm-to-arm along the sidewalk and stroll across the street well before the parade begins for pizza rolls and cinnamon buns from Yosties.

Hopkins always makes sure to wear something red, white and blue.

“You can’t wear orange today,” she said.

An estimated crowd of close to 40,000 jammed into tiny Faith, population 809, to attend the parade and kick off the Fourth of July celebrations, whether they were patriotic ceremonies, cookouts, pool parties or some place — such as Faith at night — for entertainment and fireworks.

The town’s Fourth of July tradition started back in 1946, and the parade alone is considered the state’s biggest July 4 celebration. Ask anybody, no matter their age, and it seems they have been coming here since they were kids.

Candace Yates waited for the parade from her front porch, decked out with patriotic bunting and a decorative flag. She lives in her mother’s house, where she watched parades as a little girl.

“I get to carry (the tradition) on for her,” Yates said. “Hopefully, I’ll have grandbabies and they can do the same.”

Yates and the family boxer, Tank, were holding down the fort. Her husband, Garret, and their two boys were riding in the parade on the Faith firetruck.

Jerry Lambert walked into the yard on his morning-long quest to sell tickets to raise money for Faith American Legion Post 327’s building fund. The grand prize, awarded in a drawing Wednesday night, was a Club Car golf cart.

A Marine veteran of Vietnam, Lambert said Faith’s July 4 celebration “means a lot to me.”

“I’m glad so many people come out and enjoy it,” he said.

Yates lives next door to former Mayor Tim Williams and his wife, Becky, whose yard and driveway also are prime spots for parade viewing.

“We’ve had 65 people,” Tim said. “… This little space will hold a lot of people.”

Williams takes great care and patience with his lawn, but he doesn’t worry about the crowd for this special day each year.  “It will come back,” he said.

Williams keeps plenty busy with other July 4 activities. His church, Faith Lutheran, is known for its pineapple sherbet, and he spent part of Wednesday morning making sugar water.

Across the street, the front yard of Amanda and Scott Savage was filled with friends and family who claimed spots for parade watching. Around the corner, Scott was paying close attention to the brisket and Boston butt the Savages planned to share with everyone after the parade.

Scott started cooking the brisket at 1 p.m. Tuesday and the Boston butt at 8 that night so it would be ready for the holiday.

The couple have been living in this house about 10 years, and Amanda said she watched the Faith Fourth parades as a kid, just up the street.

When the Savages bought the Main Street home, Amanda acknowledged, the thought crossed her mind how well positioned it is for the Fourth of July.

“I knew the parade was going to be in the front yard and the fireworks in the backyard,” she said.

The Fourth has extra meaning for Amanda because her birthday falls on July 2.

“It’s one of my favorite holidays because we just keep celebrating,” she said.

Members of Faith Baptist Church kept up their parade tradition of handing out free bottles of water up and down the Main Street route.

Tim Barnette said the congregation uses an aerial map for planning and divides the parade route into zones, each covered by a team.

Barnette and his 13-year-old son, John, formed one of those teams with a cooler full of bottled water. They were popular folks on the 90-degree day.

Likewise, Laurie Beaver and her children, Karis and Isaiah, were part of the cooler brigade. For good measure, they also were giving people American flag pins.

The Faith Fourth of July parade has a little bit of everything. It sometimes seems as though every fire department in Rowan County is represented, showcasing firetrucks both old and new.

There are plenty of state and local American Legion and Legion Auxiliary officials, and maybe the biggest applause of the day came when the Rowan County Veterans Honor Guard marched by.

Politicians were out in force — Republicans and Democrats.

Register of Deeds John Brindle used his parade entry as an opportunity to remind people, “We now offer passports.”

WSAT’s Buddy Poole rode in the parade for a while before hopping out at Faith Soda Shop. He then interviewed several parade entrants on the air as they passed by.

Daisy Bost, who has done much through the decades to make Faith’s weeklong celebration a success, was the parade grand marshal.

“My 15 minutes of fame,” Bost said later in the day, adding what an honor it was. “I love this celebration.”

Otherwise, the parade had businesses, churches, Oasis Shriners, Cub Scout packs, dancers, antique tractors, mascots, Sons of Confederate Veterans, motorcyclists, cheerleaders, political party representatives, stores, restaurants, baseball teams, Miss Rowan County Veteran contestants, and the ghouls and ghosts from Boogerwoods and Reaper’s Realm.

The East Rowan High School band performed.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.

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