Happy Fourth of July

For those families who didn't get to venture out on a week long vacation, there are plenty of area events for families to enjoy this the Fourth of July weekend.

Mid-day activities in Cleveland County include Revolutionary War encampment and demonstrations from 1-4:30 p.m. at the walking track by the Kings Mountain YMCA at 211 Cleveland Ave. The events continue with live music at the walking track at 6 p.m. The night ends with fireworks at 9:30 p.m.    
To end a great family cookout, residents can travel to downtown Lincolnton. Children's games begin at 6 p.m. and the annual Fourth of July parade begins at 8 p.m. The grand finale of fireworks is located at the intersection of Main and North Aspen streets at Lincolnton High School at 9:30 p.m.

Families who want to travel west for festivities, visit the annual Red, White and Bluegrass Festival in Morganton. The Fourth of July is the final day of the festival and is free. The festival started some 30 years ago with a few fireworks and a small budget. The event grew to feature professional fireworks and relocated to the Burke County Fairgrounds. In 2004, the festival grew to what it is now. The five-day festival runs through June 30 through July 4 each year.

Keep heading west and families can enjoy the town of Burnsville. On Friday, July 5, the summer Stars on the Square astronomy event occurs immediately following the Independence Day fireworks show.

 “It creates a star-studded blast of an evening,” says Bob Hampton of the Blue Ridge Astronomy Group.“How many fireworks shows leave people literally seeing stars? That's what happens after the smoke clears in Burnsville.”

Stars on the Square are free, quarterly events allowing the public to set up telescopes for viewing stars, constellations, planets and satellites. They're sponsored by the local astronomy group, whose members share their high-powered telescopes so folks can peer deep into space.Dark skies are integral to Burnsville's heritage. The town derives its name from naval captain Otway Burns, who used the stars to navigate. And for these star-gazing events, all town lights in and around the square are turned off, while traffic is detoured to reduce headlight glare.The fireworks show begins at dark, with Stars on the Square starting shortly after the conclusion of the fireworks.

There is no charge to attend, and refreshments will be sold by the local Kiwanis club. In the case of rain or cloudy skies, the astronomy event will be postponed one day and take place July 6, even if the fireworks go off as scheduled in weather not suitable for star gazing.For information on the event, contact Bob Hampton at 828-675-4449 or go online to BlueRidgeAstronomyGroup.com.

Whether a town away enjoying fireworks or on a day trip to the western part of the state, remember the reason for the celebration.