In towns small and large all across this country, very, very early on the Fourth of July, organizers are out and about, getting ready for the big parade and after dark, the fireworks. And the same holds true for the little coastal town of Cape Charles, Virginia, but with several special twists. Great fireworks, of course, set off from the Cape Charles harbor, with an audience not only watching from the shore but lots of boats gathered out in the Chesapeake Bay to watch amazing colors bursting high in the night sky. And there is a parade but there also is a fishing tournament, beach volleyball tournaments, an artisan show and a corn hole tournament all steeped in the tempting aromas of the food vendors lined up along Bay Avenue. Squash , broccoli and salads are mysteriously absent but behold the delicious crab cakes, clam fritters, grilled Italian sausages with onions and bell peppers, hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries, of course. Funnel cakes dusted lightly with powdered sugar, ice cream, brilliantly colored snow cones and Italian ices are there in great profusion, ready to help Cape Charles celebrate the 4th of July.
Our first order of the day was the Fishing Tournament– not for adults but for kids, divided into 3 groups, RED ( up to age 7), WHITE ( ages 8-12) and, you guessed it, BLUE (ages 13 to 17). The Kids 4th of July Fishing tourney is an annual 4th of July event sponsored by the Northampton County Angler’s Club and its become a very popular event both with the kids and their parents but also with on-lookers, like my husband, who love seeing kids having fun with something besides their video games and who also love fishing. The event takes place on the impressive Cape Charles Chesapeake Bay fishing pier down by the beach and Charles Dumouchchelle, the 4 year past present of the Anglers, was there overseeing all the action, registration, rod and reel loaners, judges, the lot. Awards are made by age group, three prizes for each group, with a first prize of a rod, reel and tackle box. While I was chatting with Charles, Jim Clark, who Charles describes as one of the best fishermen on the Eastern Shore, came up to enthusiastically convey the news that his young grand-nephew Zack had just caught an 18 inch flounder, the biggest catch so far by any age group– clearly fishing talent runs in the family !
By this time volleyball and horseshoes were gearing up but I was a little hot. After grabbing a couple of deliciously cold lemon Italian ices, we headed for Blue Heron Realty’s Mason Avenue office for a little AC prior to taking a stroll down the street to see some of the art work on display along the sidewalk. Just about 2pm the parade kicked off with the Color Guard from the Cape Charles Coast Guard Station leading the way, marching in quick step down Mason Avenue and around and down Bay Avenue, throngs of on-lookers cheering them on, then the American Legion float, followed by the Golf Cart Parade and the Bicycle Parade. Cape Charles is one of the few towns in Virginia where golf carts are street legal and lots of residents enjoy ” going green” and zipping around town in their electric golf cart rather than a gas powered car. Every year, as part of the 4th of July celebration, the town sponsors a golf cart parade. Owners can decorate their cart and enter it into the Parade contest and I’ve seen some very creative designs entered. The golf cart contingent was followed by the Bicycle Parade– kids of all ages can gather down near the Fire Station on Plum Street to participate in the parade, riding their bikes, some still with training wheels, all the way down Mason Avenue and Bay Avenue, learning at an early age that in a democracy, participation is important. So, a long day but full of fun, food, fireworks– an Eastern Shore Independence Day, Cape Charles style.
(Posted by Marlene Cree, licensed Virginia agent with Blue Heron Realty Co., 7134 Wilsonia Neck Dr., Machipongo, VA)