Highlands celebrates July 4th weekend

Things seemed back to normal over Independence Day weekend in Highlands with games held at the ball field, Boy Scouts blasted off rockets, kids were sprayed with the firehose by Highlands Fire & Rescue, Mill Creek was packed for Rotary Club of Highlands’ Duck Derby, an entire weekend of live music events, all topped off with a booming firework display.

Pictured below is a glimpse of July 4th weekend in Highlands, NC. Audio kicks in at fireworks (1 min 50 secs).

Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center sponsors July 4th activities and Executive Director Kaye McHan said the weekend went very smoothly.

“What a weekend,” said McHan. “It was so great to see family’s gathering to celebrate our country’s freedom won 245 years ago and a much different freedom from the pandemic. Attendance was excellent at all events.”

Firing off bottle rockets at the ball field on July 3.

Mayor Pat Taylor said the weekend was pretty much “back to a normal pre-pandemic level” and that it went well.

“Very strong turnout for the events, especially the fireworks and concert in the park,” said Taylor. “Congratulations to the Chamber of Commerce for putting on another outstanding fireworks display and musical events.”

The balloon toss can go bad when you don’t have grandma’s help.

Highlands Recreation Director Lester Norris said things went well and there was good attendance throughout the weekend.

“Ball field attendance was good, but I think off a little from two years ago,” said Norris. “Fireworks had more people than in the past. Thank God for great weather for all activities.”

Highlands Fire & Rescue sprays the crowd at the ball field.

Mountain Area Medical Airlift got close enough to make an appearance overhead, but received a call at the last second and had to depart.

Highlands Fire & Rescue Captain Roger Wilson making some final checks on the ladder before turning on the hose and spraying the crowd at the ball field in Highlands.

“The only disappointment was that MAMA was on its way to the ball field when it got a call to transport,” said Norris. “It was able to fly over basically circling the ball field.”

The leaking water bucket game kept kids on their toes on July 3 at the ball field in Highlands.

The fireworks were shot off by East Coast Pyrotechnics and Norris said 4 fireworks did not shoot off properly, so they were fired by hand.

People packed Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park for the fireworks show on July 4 in Highlands. The one bare patch of grass on the right is the only spot in the park where spectators couldn’t see the fireworks because of the trees.

Mayor Taylor said moving forward, it’s worth discussing the town’s policy on alcohol for July 4th events.

“Board probably needs to review alcohol policy for the fireworks evening event,” said Taylor. “Currently no alcohol is allowed during the fireworks display and the concert leading up to the show. The board made that decision a number of years ago based on traffic conditions, children playing in the park and the massive crowd.  Enforcement is a massive challenge for our police force, especially given their task of directing traffic. The police had a large presence on the Fourth and did a good job. But there needs to be a review concerning how to proceed in the future.

Dumping the rubber ducks for Rotary Club of Highlands’ Duck Derby on Mill Creek.

The finish line of the Duck Derby at Mill Creek in Highlands on July 4.

Charlie Sherwood (middle) basks in the glory of winning his first Duck Derby with lucky number 562.

People gather at K-H Founders Park to listen to live music before the fireworks show on July 4.

Kids getting psyched for the fireworks show in Highlands on July 4.

Rotary Club of Highlands cooking up hot dogs at the ball field before heading to the Duck Derby at Mill Creek.

The bag toss can get intense quickly if you don’t keep your head on a swivel.

Holding down the ladder so people can remove the flag from the ladder truck.

HFR sprays the crowd at the ball field.

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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Ball Field Games

Duck Derby


Live Music

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