Free Fun for Freedom
Almost five o’clock on the Fourth of July and what the town called “a patriotic stroll” is about to begin on South Street, to spill cheerfully onto South Main. A 15-minute shower has come and gone, dampening only the grass and giving way to a hot summer sun. Tents and lawn chairs line shady spots on the Davidson Village Green, mostly empty now as people turn toward Main Street to watch the show.
The fire engine leads the way, Old Glory waving from its crane, a patriotic greeting to folks who cheer and happily wave back. Then the red, white, and blue strollers walk and dance, hop and pedal by, their streamers, balloons, goofy hats, and T-shirts saluting America’s 242nd birthday, oh-so-young as countries go.
The parade breaks up on the Village Green, bikes, trikes, and wagons parked or cast aside. A volunteer offers popsicles to all the strollers, but in the end, there is plenty to share with anyone who wants a taste of childhood.
Members of Davidson’s police and fire departments form an honor guard in front of the Davidson Branch Library, where roadies for tonight’s band have worked for an hour to set up sound equipment on the “stage.” Next, those speakers send out the recorded voice of Natalie Grant, singing our national anthem for the assembled families and friends, babies in their arms and hands on their hearts.
It is Fourth of July in Davidson, this small town’s tradition that goes back forever and changes little. Time was, it all took place in the heat of the day, but cooler heads prevailed and moved the event into the easier evening air.
Six energetic and talented RadioJacks — a top-40 cover band based in Charlotte — now take the stage, and the kids begin to test out the hot concrete dance floor in front of the library. Little bare feet move with the beat for the next two hours, joined by friends and parents and grannies, bopping to the music of Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars, and Pharrell Williams. We are talking about tykes, toddlers, and teens, jumping and twirling for hours, sticky foreheads and red cheeks, tireless and giddy as the sun lowers over the lake to the west. Smartphones snap pictures and spin them into cyberspace, magically sharing the fun with distant friends.
Then it is eight o’clock. The band gets a rousing round of applause, and families collect their baskets and babies and head on home.
And that’s really all it is. Just fun. Free fun for freedom on the Fourth of July, a gift from the town.
A professional communicator with a long career in higher education, Meg now consults and volunteers in areas where words and images work together to tell a story. She's a proud member of Davidson's Class of 1977 and lives nearby with her husband, Don, Davidson professor emeritus of biology, with whom she shares a family grown by kinship and choice.