Red, White and Blech: Moreland makes most of soggy 4th

by W. Winston Skinner


Josh Evans, dressed as Uncle Sam, congratulates winners of this year's patriotic bike parade. From left are Isabella Webb, third place; Braden-James Hill, second place; and Cameron Rogan, first place.

A little small-town ingenuity turned a wet July 4 into a memorable celebration of the nation’s birthday on Thursday in Moreland.

With most area July 4 celebrations cancelled or delayed because of the weather, Moreland’s volunteers soldiered on — serving barbecue, exhibiting crafts, selling raffle tickets and generally enjoying a festive time. Vendors — usually sprawled around downtown —were centered in and around the Moreland Mill, and the 65th annual barbecue was a success.

Members of three area churches — First Baptist Church of Moreland, Moreland United Methodist Church and White Oak Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church — prepare and serve the succulent pork barbecue and thick Brunswick stew each year. Volunteers got busy at the Lewis Grizzard Memorial Barbecue Pavilion on Wednesday and then served plates at the pavilion until it was all gone Thursday.

The annual dog walk that is usually one of the first events of the day did not materialize, but the Moreland Community Historical Society did hold its annual patriotic bike parade. Cash prizes were presented to the winners, and all those decorating bikes enjoyed a ride around the town square.

“We are so proud of y’all for being so diligent,” said MCHS member Joyce Evans. “Y’all look great.” She congratulated the youngsters on “all the work you did on your bikes.”

Josh Evans, MCHS president and mayor of the town, honored the winners — Cameron Rogan, first place; Braden-James Hill, second place; and Isabella Webb, third place.

From morning until mid-afternoon, visitors from the local area and farther afield enjoyed looking at and buying art, jewelry, pottery, baked goods, home-churned ice cream and honey at the Puckett Station Arts and Craft Festival in the Moreland Mill. The Coweta County Genealogical Society brought a large collection of used books, which drew a crowd. Members of Boy Scout Troop 48 moved the presentation of the colors indoor, and the pledge to the flag inaugurated the day.

Mayor Evans then welcomed the crowd. “I appreciate everybody coming out to make this a success with the rain,” he said.

He reflected on the beginnings of America’s history and the continued commitment of military personnel today. “Our independence didn’t come free. It started with the American Revolution, and men and women have been fighting for our freedom ever since,” Evans said.

The wet weather meant many arrived in Moreland with umbrellas, and several youngsters sported boots to protect their feet from puddles. The ongoing rain also caused an adaptation for the Moreland United Methodist Church’s Quilters. The women, who make quilts all year and raffle one each July 4, usually anchor a spot near the church sign facing the town green.

On Thursday, Helen Sizemore and Clyde Cook took this year’s quilt and their tickets into the church fellowship hall. There also was a yard sale in the fellowship hall, with most items selling for a quarter.

Local residents — and at least one visitor from Ohio — toured the Erskine Caldwell Birthplace, which is located on the town square. The day also marked a soft opening for Truly Southern, a shop and mini-museum run by the Moreland Cultural Arts Alliance. Visitors to Truly Southern viewed a small collection of Lewis Grizzard memorabilia, including his Newnan High School letter jacket and a trove of childhood photographs.

One of Moreland’s claims to fame is its status as the hometown of both Caldwell, who wrote such novels as “Tobacco Road” and “God’s Little Acre,” and Grizzard, a humorist and writer who also did stand-up comedy and had a recurring role on “Designing Women.”

The July 4 parade planned for downtown Newnan was cancelled because of the wet weather, and the Newnan Rotary Club has rescheduled the fireworks display for Drake Stadium until July 13.

There are Independence Day events today in Haralson in southeast Coweta County. A parade and fireworks display are planned.

Parade participants will line up at the Haralson Head Start Center in time to start the parade at 6:30 p.m.

After the parade, people will gather at a lot on Line Creek Road near its intersection with Shaddix Road. There will be entertainment and concessions, until the fireworks show – sponsored by the Town of Haralson – at dark.

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