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Another Tranquil 4th of July Celebration
on the Banks of the Sopchoppy River

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A crowd of approximately 3200 people came through the gate at Myron B. Hodge Park for the annual Sopchoppy 4th of July Celebration this past Tuesday, July 4, 2006.  According to event organizer Jackie Lawhon, it was a "fantastic year." 

"We were thrilled with the turnout, especially for a Tuesday," said Lawhon.  "Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, and the karaoke contest  went over very well."  Lawhon said the crowds grew larger as the day progressed and the weather cooled.  "The fireworks were spectacular, as usual!" said Lawhon.  "We are so appreciative to Wakulla Bank for being our major fireworks sponsor."  Lawhon said Wakulla Bank has been the largest fireworks sponsor ever since the first Sopchoppy celebration held 33 years ago.  Gulf State Bank and U. S. Filter also contributed towards this years' fireworks.

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The event kicked off with the annual 4th of July Parade through the streets of downtown Sopchoppy.  There seemed to be a record number of participants this year, including school groups, elected officials, local businesses and residents, and political candidates.  Everyone was decked out in their red, white and blue which made for a colorful hour of fun and excitement for the young set.  The handfuls of candy being thrown from parade entrants didn't hurt, either!  Kids lined the sidewalks with loot bags in hand, ready to scramble for the spoils.

According to parade organizer Bill Lowrie, there were three prizes awarded to parade entrants.  "We award prizes to the Best Decorated Vehicle, Best Dressed Child (under 12), and Best Dressed Pet," said Lowrie.  "Each winner receives $50.  Entries are judged based on three criterion:  Originality, Execution, and Humor."

This year's winners were:

Best Decorated Vehicle - Medart Assembly of God
Best Dressed Child - Infant Miss 4th of July from Premier Athletics - Kailyn Radabaugh
Best Dressed Pet - Circle C Ranch

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 Medart Assembly of God
  Infant Miss 4th of July Kailyn Radabaugh
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 Circle C Ranch   4th of July Queens

Once at the city park, Stephanie Watson kicked things off with a stirring rendition of The Star Spangled Banner.  Jerry Evans led the crowd in a prayer of thanks, and then Nathan Barnes of Premier Athletics announced the names of the Miss 4th of July Contest.  The winners were:

Infant Miss:  Kailyn Radabaugh
Infant Mr.:  Andon Christian
Little Princess:
Little Prince:  Scotty Davis
Princess:  Breanna Murray
LIttle Miss:  Emma Donaldson
Teen Miss:  Hailee Clark
Miss:  Colleen Morgan
Mr.:  John Schilling

The Miss and Mr. Division winners each received a $500 scholarship to the college of their choice, and a $100 savings bond from Wakulla Bank.  All other winners received 4 free classes at Premier Athletics.

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Stephanie Watson
   Jay and Shannon Egler of Pink Shoelaces
  Bill Stephens

Celebration attendees strolled through the park visiting the many arts and crafts vendors, talking to political candidates, and enjoying funnel cakes, sno-cones and other festival goodies. 

Musical entertainment by Pink Shoelaces followed, and a karaoke contest was held later in the day.  The winners of the karaoke contest were:

Youth Division:  1st Place:   Karlie Gray (Personal DVD Player)
                             2nd Place:  Jessica Manning (TV/CD/Radio Combo)

Adult Division:   1st Place:    Stephanie Watson ($250 prize)
                             2nd Place:  Michael Sweat ($150 prize) 

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Karlie Gray

Musical entertainment continued throughout the day from groups such as the Sopchoppy Southern Baptist Church Gospel Quartet (Randy and Keith Anderson, Jerry Evans and Maurice Langston); Allen and Linda Terrell and the Country Drifters, local bluegrass performers, and Wayne's World (playing 50's and 60's rock n' roll favorites).

The cap to a perfect day was the fabulous fireworks display at dark over the beautiful Sopchoppy River.  Fireworks organizer Bill Stephens once again outdid himself as guests of the event said it was one of the best shows ever.

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Thanks, Sopchoppy, for another memorable celebration!

Click here to see several photo galleries full of parade and celebration pics! 

This article originally published on July 7, 2006.



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