Whether this is the most anticipated of all time is up for debate.
But the 43rd annual White Lake Water Festival which begins today and takes place on Saturday night has certainly been one of the most welcome public events in some time. Global pandemics will.
As sad as it sounds, there was little to no chance we were going to see it last year despite the organizers having waited as long as possible before canceling it. The governor was just settling into an authoritarian regime over the North Carolinians like none of us have ever seen.
Curfews and warrants, science and data – yes, we get bored quickly. We appreciated the nod in favor of safety, but not to trample on our freedoms and certainly not to be repeatedly called out as a group of fourth graders.
So a year has passed, most restrictions have been lifted for the general population, and the unofficial start of summer in Bladen County has arrived. The 15 weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day will follow, and we hope for a summer of fun and frolics that everyone enjoys.
The gathering is necessary.
We saw it last week at Bladen Community College where graduation was virtual again, but this time with an on-campus component. The organizers have done a masterful job.
While the event was scheduled to meet all of Cooper’s restrictions, he dropped them in the afternoon a few hours before departure. Still, anyone who walked in and enjoyed the kids’ activities, photoshoot scenes, food, group or watching the ceremony on the big screen must have felt like the layout was very natural.
That’s what promises to hit the county’s premier tourist destination this weekend.
Just before the famous Ski Heels birthday celebration, a reunion started a week ago and culminated as Grand Marshals in the parade on Saturday morning.
White Lake has a long history. Billed as the safest beach in the country, the 1,200 acres of water provided many memories for children and adults alike.
The main shopping area has undergone a facelift and renovation.
And the festival is coming back stronger than ever. The maximum number of sellers will be available. Spare Change, from La Grange, is headlining Saturday night’s stage final after the opening of Southern Touch at sunset.
BlackWater Rhythm & Blues Band kicks off tonight.
The programming of the parade is solid. Reverend Cameron McGill organized a car and truck beauty show for the Lake Church grounds.
And people will come.
We are tired of being restricted. We have zoomed out. We need interaction.
The smiles of our friends and families are to be seen and experienced. We want to hear the children’s laughter, the downbeat that starts the next song for a dance, and the smells and tastes that only festival food can satisfy.
Tell a friend. Bring a chair and sit down. Don’t forget your dancing shoes – if you use them.
See you this weekend at the White Lake Water Festival.