Southport, NC – Marching bands, beauty queens, and several fleets of Shriners in their miniature cars kicked off the parade. But the crowd that came to cheer them on was smaller than in past years. Southport chief of police J.V. Dove blamed the reduced attendance on high gas prices, the mid-week holiday, and competition from the tall ships in Beaufort.
There was still stiff competition for the best seats, according to one Southport resident, who staked out her turf two days early to make sure her family got both shade, and a breeze, along the parade route.
And nothing could keep Ann Kenlaw of Holden Beach from her holiday tradition.
"I love it!" Kenlaw said while waiting for the parade to start. "I can't see the 4th of July without being here I came early this morning, I've done that, now when this is over I can get out of the crowd."
The city expects 20,000 people to visit Southport for the parade and fireworks.