The God and Country celebration has been called East Bend’s biggest event of the year. The 2013 annual celebration was no less entertaining.
This year the event was held on June 29 to hundreds of East Bend residents and visitors from the surrounding area.
The annual parade down Main St. started at 9:30 a.m. and featured fire trucks, personal cars, and floats. The traditional 17-foot long violin replica by Hoke Matthews was also in attendance.
The violin is a reminder of the parade’s roots from 1903 buggy maker J.G. Huff. Huff organized a fiddlers’ convention in East Bend to celebrate July 4, with the parade becoming a central event.
After a period of time where no event was organized, in 1990 a group of citizens began working to bring back the parade.
The event is meant to combine the town’s patriotism with its love and dedication to God, according to a pamphlet at the event Saturday.
One vehicle gave a nod to Duck Commander with a picture of Phil Robertson, the head of the duck call manufacturing family.
The parade ended at the senior center in town followed by events at East Bend Elementary School. Inflatables were placed on the school’s recreation field near the baseball diamond along with various vendors. Concessions, crafts and other activities were held while the day wore on.
Opening ceremonies were held behind the school on an erected stage. Lynn Myers was the master of ceremonies and welcomed the crowd on the warm, sunny day.
Rebecca Swaim sang the national anthem before American Legion 336 ceremonially raised the flag near the stage.
The ceremony recognized the grand marshal for the year, Cpl. Jessie Fletcher, and his fiancee Emily Ball.
Fletcher, now 24, was wounded in Afghanistan in October 2011 while serving as a Marine Scout Sniper. He had both legs amputated and several fingers as a result of an IED blast.
Fletcher and his bride to be made their way to the stage where they received a round of applause, then other veterans were called forward to be recognized.
Each veteran was given a green mug to thank them for their service.
At 11:30 a.m. Dream Dancers performed, followed by Woody Powers Midnight Express, Bruce Gwyn Sound Factory and Conviction Notice.
Conviction Notice is a Christian rock band that seeks to reach the lost for Jesus Christ through their music. They have been played on numerous Christian radio stations and have toured across N.C. In 2011 the band was nominated by Charlotte Music Awards as one of the contenders for Best Christian Artist of the Year.
The group played again that night during the evening service in the school’s auditorium.
Fireworks followed around 9:30 p.m. that night.
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