MINT HILL MADNESS Perfect Weather, Lively Crowds

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Mint Hill Madness could not have had a more perfect day. The sun shone brightly in the cloudless blue sky, the temperature was in the high seventies, and the crowds were abuzz with excitement, enjoying the event many Mint Hill residents look forward to all year.

Today’s festival began with a parade through downtown Mint Hill, with Krause Siebert as the Grand Marshall. At noon there was the opening ceremony with a welcome given by Mint Hill Mayor Ted Biggers, and then the much anticipated festival began.

While children and teens enjoyed the rides, adults cued up to receive freebies from sponsors and advertisers. There was a long line for Publix, where they were giving out tote bags in which you choose to put a free beach ball, jump rope, markers, and, yes, a cowbell.
Across from Publix was Novant, the Mint Hill Madness presenter. They were keeping it healthy by giving out apples and bananas, chapstick and notepads. Jackie Ploszak, nurse practitioner at Novant’s Express Care, said, “We have had a lot of traffic today.” She then added, “Since we are fairly new to Mint Hill, we are enjoying getting to meet many local people.”

Marta Brown was at the Mint Hill Arts tent to encourage people to sign up for their “Summer Sampler” classes. She said, “This is such a great way to get the word out about what we offer. It seems many people don’t know that we offer all sorts of classes, dealing with many different mediums, and geared to ages five to adult.” The Mint Hill Chamber of Commerce was on hand to explain their organization, and the Hometown Warriors tent gave pause to remember the many sacrifices that have been made and what this holiday weekend is truly about.

When it came to vendors, there was nary a need that was not addressed. There were contractors, a dentist, a funeral home, rental cars, replacement windows, and leaf guards, to name a few. Travel agent Erica Carpenter, owner of Cupcake Castles said, “We are really doing well today. With so many families, they are excited about the possibility of a fun Disney vacation.” For those who like to shop, there was handmade jewelry, clothing, crafts, toys, and even marshmallow shooters.

Big decisions had to be made when it came time to eat. Do you want it grilled, fried, or in a wrap? Mexican, Italian, or American? Hot and spicy or mild and savory? For thirsty folks, there was fresh squeezed lemonade and a southern staple, sweet tea. In the food tent, where people were savoring nachos, gyros, BBQ and cheese fries, Commisioner Dale Dalton was enjoying a meal with his wife, Pam. Wearing a freshly purchased VFW hat, he said he came to support friends who had tents, and because of the ambience in general. “To me, this is small town America at its best.”

According to the laughter and the screams, the rides were enjoyed by all. There were inflatable slides, a ferris wheel, train rides, tilt-a-whirl, thrill rides and more. As teenager Ava Salinger got off the “gravity defying” spinner, she said, “I was so scared I screamed my head off. I’m going to get back in line and go again!” In addition to the rides, there was face painting and games where prizes could be won.

Throughout the day, the festival feeling was heightened by the live bands on the Novant stage. The earlier band, Sugar Smax, performed pop and rock from the 70’s through today, and they were followed by Blue Monday, who did mostly rock and roll classics. Later in the evening, Satisfaction, a Rolling Stones cover band, had many singing along with “Mick”.

As the sun was beginning to set, large crowds began setting up folding chairs, and laying out blankets in anticipation of the fireworks. Children chased each other as friends and neighbors chatted until the sky grew dark and the lights went off. It was time for the fireworks–and oh, the fireworks! They sent the sky blazing in color and light. There were traditional fireworks, spiraling fireworks, fizzling fireworks, and a recent one that looked as if gold bling had been thrown into the night sky and slowly trickled down to earth. The audience oo-ed and aw-ed and clapped at the amazing brilliance. The finale was one to remember as seemingly endless showers of color and light appeared to cover the entire sky. The booms were still heard long after the dazzling show ended.

For many people, that signaled the end of the evening, but for others, the party was just beginning. They went back to the rides, the food, the shopping, and the mingling until the evening’s end.

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Kathy Shepler
I was an English professor at The University of Akron, Ohio before retiring and moving to Charlotte last year. My undergraduate degree is in journalism and my masters in education. Along with writing for The Mint Hill Times, I tutor in English and do book editing. I live in Mint Hill with my husband and am involved in a number community activities.