South Carolina's autumns are invigorating, winters are mild and springs are glorious. And then you have the South Carolina summer --- which according to one adage seems to open the screen door between purgatory and hell. Not everyone can manage a cooling escape to a lakeside home or a beach resort. But everyone can find a fun Fourth of July celebration with just the right combination of amusements to help you celebrate the nation's birthday -- and even enjoy the hot weather.
All this to honor a fruit? In the Midlands region, the Lexington County Peach Festival in Gilbert is a delicious July 4 tradition that celebrates its 53rd year in 2011. Come hungry: There will be peach ice cream, peach cobbler, peach slush, peach parfaits, peach sundaes and peach tea, along with the usual array of festival foods. The Peach Festival kicks off with a parade at 9:30 a.m. and concludes with fireworks at 10 p.m. In between, you'll find family entertainment, a display of antique farm equipment, car show, Revolutionary war re-enactment and beauty pageants. At noon, there will be a reading of the Declaration of Independence. Gilbert is about a 20-minute drive southwest of the town of Lexington.
While some people like to slow down for the holiday, others like to pick up the pace. In 2011, more than 1,000 are expected for the 26th annual Hilton Head Island Firecracker 5000 Road Race and Fun Walk, a health-conscious family event. This Independence Day tradition takes runners and walkers down the roads around Shelter Cove Harbor. Afterward, cool off with refreshments including fresh fruit and enjoy music and door prizes. Registration is by mail or online.
What better spot for a patriotic celebration than a place called Patriots Point? On the Mount Pleasant side of Charleston Harbor, the 2011 version -- the 14th annual Patriots Point 4th of July Blast -- starts at 5 p.m. with discounted admission, entertainment and snacks. A fireworks display billed as the Lowcountry's largest starts about 9:10 p.m. from the deck of the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier that formerly served the U.S. Navy.
If it's fireworks you seek, you'll find them in small towns, big cities and perhaps your own neighborhood. Some communities, including Summerville and Clemson, are planning their 2011 celebrations for Sunday, July 3. Downtown Greenville boasts one of the largest July 4 displays in the Upstate, with a sparkly celebration capping the Wells Fargo Red, White and Blue Festival set from 5 to 10:30 p.m. At Murrells Inlet, the July 4 boat parade will climax with fireworks at 10 p.m. In Hartsville, a family festival and car show will feature fireworks at sunset. And at Surfside Beach, you can enjoy some free watermelon at the annual festival before fireworks start about 9:30 p.m.
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