Music, fireworks and food are part of summer fun in Wake Forest

CommentaryJune 7, 2014 

Ah sweet heat. As per the usual in North Carolina, we seemed to have skipped right over spring and jumped straight into the humid sea of summer. That has it’sAdvantages and drawbacks. Plus: no snow. Minus: frizzy hair. Plus: summer activities.

When the sun is out and shining bright, localities push the fun into high gear. The town of Wake Forest has a parade of things to do — both literally and figuratively, and I’m going to break it down for you.

The fun starts today. Bill Leslie of WRAL fame is, evidently, in a band, and the group is performing at the Wake Forest Renaissance Centre today at 3 p.m. It’s a Celtic-fusion ensemble named Lorica. If you’re not into Celtic music, then maybe you should just stop on by to check out the TV personality’s chops.

That’s just for starters. The fun continues the following Saturday with the charity car show, which benefits groups like the Wounded Warriors and the Hospice of Wake County. In addition to all sorts of cars — including a monster truck — there’ll be a demonstration where experts take apart and put back together an old-school Model T.

Last year was the first year for the event, and according to the town’s public information officer, Bill Crabtree, they want to make it a recurring thing.

“It was just wildly successful last year,” he said. “It brought thousands of people downtown, so they’re hoping to do the same thing this year.”

The big summer event is the Fourth of July celebration, which is actually two events in one. There are fireworks the night of July 3, followed by a children’s parade on July 4.

“It’s just very festive,” Crabtree said. “Kids are encouraged to decorate their bicycles, their wagons. Really a patriotic feel to the entire event. It’s a wonderful sight when you see hundreds of families lining up to participate in the parade.”

The parade will carry the kids through the town into Holding Park where the town’s hosting an event called Arts & Games in the Park. Tug-of-war, a pie eating contest and all sorts of opportunities for kids to create arts and crafts follow.

“It really is a perfect example of why so many people feel so passionate about Wake Forest and it maintains that small-town charm that Wake Forest is known for,” Crabtree said.

Another great event comes towards the end of the summer months in August: the Purple Heart Dinner. I covered it one year for the paper, and it’s a great gathering.

This is the sixth year, and it started because town leaders wanted to find a way to honor the men and women who fought for our country.

Town Commissioner Greg Harrington was one of those who got it started. He said the first year there were 17 recipients, but the number has gone as high as 51.

They’ve had speakers such as a World War II Helldiver pilot who was said he was the only pilot to fight all the major air battles of the Pacific.

“We had two major wars going on — Afghanistan and Iraq — and so many people weren’t recognizing our veterans,” Harrington said. “And so many of our World War II veterans were dying out, so we really wanted to do something to put them in the spotlight.”

A few years ago, the dinner had its first female Purple Heart recipient, whom I was honored to interview.

Those are just some of the events coming up. You can find out about more at You also might want to check out the website for the town’s renaissance center and see what they have in the hopper:

Whatever you choose to do, you shouldn’t be bored this summer if you live in or near Wake Forest. And if you are, well, then it’s your own fault.

Alex Granados writes about interesting people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him via email at

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