Monday, July 8, 2013 —
One thing’s been pretty evident during Badin’s Centennial celebration this year. This town knows how to put on a party.
And not even the rain, the threat of even more rain or the muggy conditions could stop Badin from pulling off a successful Fourth of July celebration on Thursday.
The highlight of the festivities were obviously the fireworks at the end of the night, a staple in Badin for years. But the musical presentation of the 440th Army National Guard Band before the fireworks certainly set the stage for the nighttime show.
Between 250-300 people crowded in and around Badin Fire Department’s building as an earlier shower forced the presentation inside. The doors to the firehouse were opened and metal chairs were set up along with small bleachers for patrons to sit and enjoy the show. The band performed for nearly two hours, playing a melody of current and past songs along with some favorite patriotic songs mixed in.
“They were wonderful. Very talented people serving their country. I loved it,” Mayor Jim Harrison said.
“It’s been a long time coming and we are about halfway over (with the Centennial celebration). We’re at our halfway point with this one, I guess. Then we still have the festival, the camp meeting and then our Christmas program.”
The performance wasn’t just limited to the playing of musical instruments by the more than 20 participants. Several songs were sung by individuals in the band, from “Skyfall,” the title song from the latest James Bond movie, to “God Bless the USA,” the song made famous by Lee Greenwood.
“Luckily, we have the best job in the Army. We get to use our talents in music and go around to different areas of North Carolina and share that talent,” said trombone player Paul Pietrowski, who’s been in the Army and the band for six years.
“I have the best job and the chance to share that talent with everyone. Every day, every concert we do, we love to do that.
“The crowd was great, the firehouse was wonderful. I’ve never been able to play in a firehouse before. I love the town and am looking forward to the fireworks.”
During one portion of the concert, members of each branch of the military that were in the crowd were recognized for their service. The music for each branch was played as members of the Coast Guard, Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines were cheered on by other people at the concert and saluted by members of the band.
“This is a great holiday for this country,” said Roy Lynch of Mint Hill, who was one of the members of the Navy to be recognized.
“We are just glad we can participate in it.”
Events such as the Fourth of July in Badin are one of many the 440th band participate and travel to each year. After the show was over and before the fireworks began, members were quickly packing up their instruments and other elements to head to their next show in Blowing Rock the next day and Hendersonville to wrap up the week.
“It makes it very easy for us to come out here when you have a very appreciative crowd like this. The holiday is kind of an extra motivator,” said Bill McDowell, a trombone and drum major in the band.
“But with all the other ceremonies and concerts we’ve done, when it’s not the Fourth of July, we enjoy the same amount of support as well. People are very supportive of the military and we are glad for it.
“We are glad they are here for us. Anytime we can come out and do our job like this, it benefits all of us.”
Henry and Bonnie Springer of Badin were two of the many that enjoyed the concert. Henry also served in the Navy and was recognized during the ceremony.
“This is our first time hearing them. They were very good. I enjoyed the second part better than I did the first part. The vocalists were great,” Henry said.
And both had a good enough seat to watch both the band and the fireworks. Hundreds more joined the ones at the concert up and down N.C. 740 in Badin to watch the fireworks as they were set off near the boat ramp to Badin Lake.
“We’ve been in the yard today. Now we are just going to sit here and watch the fireworks. We are not going to move to the lake,” Bonnie said.
A 20-minute fireworks ceremony ended the night and lit up the sky with a wide variety of explosions and displays that captured the crowd’s attention.
“It’s been a wonderful experience, and thank the Lord for holding the rain off,” Harrison said.
“That was our concern, that the weather was gonna keep people from coming. But as you can see, we had a magnificent turnout.”
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