It's a Grand Old Fourth

By Molly Harrison | Sunday, July 1, 2012
Celebrate the Fourth from Corolla to Manteo to Ocracoke.

It's hard to believe, but here it is already - Fourth of July week 2012. Where June went I don't know, but at least I remember a blur of great beach days! I know that talk of time flying makes me sound old, but, let's face it, I am old, and therefore I feel like days, weeks, months and years are speeding by. The Fourth of July is a marker for the peak of the season on the Outer Banks, and it seems like it got here early this year.

Outer Bankers celebrate the Fourth in a grand way, with fireworks shows, festivals, parades, contests, music, food and so much more. We've got all the July 4 details right here, so read on and plan your Independence Day celebrations.

First, let's talk fireworks. Fireworks shows will be held in Corolla at Currituck Heritage Park at 9 p.m., Nags Head at Nags Head Pier (MP 11) at 9:25 p.m., Manteo at Roanoke Island Festival Park at 9:30 p.m. and Avon at the Avon Pier at 9 p.m. Check the area information below for more details. A tip: The exact sites of blast off are always super-crowded. You can see fireworks for miles, so you can hang back on the fringe a bit and still see a spectacular show. A warning: Personal fireworks are illegal on the Outer Banks.


Now let's just take it by area and see what's happening for the Fourth.


The 20th Annual Festival of Fireworks will be held at Currituck Heritage Park starting at 5 p.m. Pre-fireworks activities include children's activities, watermelon eating contests, a cornhole tournament, live music and entertainment, food vendors and more. The fireworks start at 9 p.m. Bring a blanket or chair with you to sit on the lawn. Parking is limited, so get there early or bike or walk to the site.

The Corolla Wild Horse Fund's Wild Horse Days are being held in Corolla this week, and on the 4th there are several Wild Horse Days activities going on at Currituck Heritage Park. Starting at noon, there will be Spanish mustang rides, kids' activities, food, vendors and more. Spanish mustang rides will also be offered at the Outer Banks Center for Wildlife Education from 5 to 7 p.m.


The Town of Duck traditionally greets the day with its Fourth of July Parade at 9 a.m. The one-mile parade route begins on Scarborough Lane heading east, goes down Ocean Way then turns on Christopher Drive. After the parade there's a community social at Duck Town Park featuring live music, refreshments and parade awards.

In the afternoon, Scarborough Faire Days offers a festival-like event in Duck. Held at Scarborough Faire Shopping Center from 2 to 7 p.m., the event features Spanish mustang horse rides for kids, lots of kid activities, food, wine and much more.

Nags Head

In Nags Head, the fireworks show is at 9:25 p.m. at Nags Head Pier. Parking is extremely limited. The best thing to do is to park back on the side streets, walk to a nearby beach access and watch the fireworks from the beach.

If you want to add a little challenge to your Fourth, there's still space in the Killer Dunes 2-Miler on Jockey's Ridge. It's the hottest race of the year, and I mean temperature wise. Running on sand hills on a summer morn is a humbling experience - something every runner should try at least once. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. There's no more online registration, but you can register at the event site at Jockey's Ridge.

Kill Devil Hills

To start your 4th off on the right foot, jump into the Inaugural Outer Banks Firecracker & Freedom 5K. It starts at 7:30 a.m. on Veteran's Drive, just south of the Wright Brothers National Memorial Site.


The Town of Manteo has a big old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration on the waterfront starting at 2 p.m. There are contests (wacky hat, apple pie, decorated bike), plus children's activities, live music, lots of food and vendors.

At 8 p.m. there's a concert and fireworks show at Roanoke Island Festival Park. The 440th Army Band will perform in the Outdoor Pavilion at Roanoke Island Festival Park. The fireworks will follow at 9:30 p.m. Gates open at 6 p.m., and you should bring lawn chairs or blankets. Picnics are welcome. It's free.

Celebrate a historic Fourth at Independence Day 1850 at Island Farm. Musket firings will be at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Ox-drawn wagon rides begin at 10:30 and last until 12:30. A reading of the "Declaration of Independence" will be at 2 p.m. Games and other events will be held throughout the day.


In Rodanthe, the ninth annual Independence Day Celebration starts at 2 p.m. at the Rodanthe-Waves-Salvo Community Building, across from Chicamacomico Life-Saving Station. At this event, community members and visitors join together to sing patriotic songs and hear a reading of the "Declaration of Independence." A watermelon feast follows. It's free.


Hatteras Island's fireworks are held at Avon Pier at 9 p.m. Parking is extremely limited.

From 3 to 8 p.m. on the grounds at the Hatteras Realty office in Avon, look for food, fun and festivities, including inflatables for the kids, a rock-climbing wall, hot dogs, barbecue, ice cream and more.

The Beach Klub in Avon is hosting a Fourth of July celebration from 6 to 10 p.m. with entertainment featuring the Pickle Mamas. The event is free, and beer, wine, hot dogs and hamburgers will be sold. You can see the fireworks from The Beach Klub, but check the link for details about parking.


Cape Hatteras Secondary School of Coastal Studies' Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Hatteras Island Christian Fellowship are presenting Freedom Fest 2012 on July 4 at the school in Buxton. The fun will begin at 5 p.m. with an outdoor pig pickin', and the main event, a concert by Sidewalk Prophets, will begin at 7 p.m. It's free.

Hatteras Village

Hatteras Village is celebrating the Fourth with a festival-type atmosphere from 3 to 11 p.m. In the village center by the post office, there will be food, music, art, games and a band playing from 7 to 11 p.m.


Ocracoke Islanders celebrate the Fourth of July all day long at the Ocracoke Fourth of July Celebration. The annual sand sculpture festival on Lifeguard Beach is one of the highlights, but there is fun stuff going on all over town all day. The Old Time Ocracoke Parade begins at 3 p.m. and it is not to be missed. The NPS is bringing some of the Ocracoke Ponies into the village for people to meet them. There are music concerts, a car show, a fig cake bake off, story telling, dunking booths, a square dance a concert and more.

And that's just one day this week! We have tons more listings of things going on this week - before and after the Fourth. Look around at our By Day (both Programmed Activities and Events) and our Nightlife sections to see the most comprehensive list of Outer Banks events you'll find anywhere.

Have a great week! The weather is looking fine (don't worry, every summer day has a cloud and a lightning bolt symbol on it). But let me tell you, it's crowded here. If you don't have a plan for a place to stay, you might want to get on the phone right away and find a couch you can sleep on someplace. (Just kidding - there might be an available hotel room or camp site out there.)

And if you're here, be safe and considerate. Drive carefully, look out for pedestrians or bike riders (and be a cautions pedestrian or bike rider), boat safely, pick up litter, smile at strangers, tip well and above all don't drink and drive.

Happy 236th Birthday, USA!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway

This week you have a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar and a $50 gift certificate to Gray's Family Department Store!

For more information about Ocean Boulevard Bistro & Martini Bar, check out their website.

For more information about Gray's Family Department Store, check out their website.

Last Week's Winner

Congratulations to Liz Shorter-Rickrode!!!

You won a Free Wild Horse Tour with Bob's Wild Horse Tours and a Free Large Cheese Pizza from Beach Road Pizza!

Outer Banks This Week Giveaway Winner

For more information about Bob's Wild Horse Tours, check out their website.

For more information about Beach Road Pizza, check out their website.

About the Author Molly Harrison
Molly Harrison is managing editor at OneBoat, publisher of She moved to Nags Head in 1994 and since then has made her living writing articles and creating publications about the people, places and culture of the Outer Banks. When not working she practices and teaches yoga and spends as much time as possible outside and in or on the water with her husband and two children.