070617 Murrells Inlet: Rocking the boats on the Fourth
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Robby and Joye Byrum’s boat won the trophy.

Murrells Inlet: Rocking the boats on the Fourth

By Roger Greene
Coastal Observer

Boats crept slowly along the Murrells Inlet waterfront. Passengers exchanged greetings and blasts from super soakers and water cannons with spectators who had gathered along the Marsh Walk for the Murrells Inlet Fourth of July Boat Parade.

Music cascaded from the patios of waterfront restaurants. Some patrons sipped drinks, others enjoyed dinner and merely took in the scene.

A little farther down on the parade route, crowds gathered around the grounds of Belin Memorial United Methodist Church to enjoy the festivities. Multi-colored umbrellas and tents offered shelter from the heat and sun. Some families set up folding tables, complete with holiday fare. From the docks past the church, some spectators took dips in the creek waters to cool themselves from the late afternoon temperatures.

Being July 4, an abundance of red, white and blue provided the backdrop for the day. But it was family, and the sense of tradition that truly connected revelers with the event.

“We’re celebrating our 46th wedding anniversary,” said James Gerald, watching the parade with wife Gloria. “We’ve been coming here for the last [several] years, but had never made it to see the parade. We made it our business to do so this year. It has surpassed our expectations.”

With James recently retired after 35 years of working in his native Florence, the couple says they’re already planning on future visits.

“We love it,” Gloria said. “It’s a beautiful place and the people are so nice. It’s a great area for families to enjoy. We’ve been hearing about the boat parade since we started visiting. We’re both excited that we’re able to be here. We’re having a great time.”

Just a few yards away from the Geralds, Camden resident Sara Elizabeth Reid took shade under a large oak on the Belin grounds, anticipating the boats making their way past and keeping an eye on her three children.

The family has a home in Murrells Inlet. “We’ve been coming down to the boat parade for years,” Reid said. “We love the family and small-town atmosphere. It’s a part of our tradition, and now we’re passing that down to our kids.”

Family and tradition also served as a common theme for Murrells Inlet residents Robby and Joye Byrum, who took home top honors in the boat decorating contest.

“We’ve lived here for 11 years and have done the parade for nine of those,” Joye said. “July Fourth is the highlight of our summer, we love it. Four generations of our family are here with us this year and everyone helped with the decorating. My dad is a veteran, so it’s a special day for us and a way to say thanks.”

The theme for this year’s parade was “Rockin’ in the USA” and the Bynum’s craft looked the part, being adorned by cutouts of a guitar, keyboard and musical notes along with the traditional red, white and blue trappings. Tuesday marked the second time the Byrum family has won the decorating contest.

“It’s a bit of a process to get everything cut out and ready,” Joye said. “But it’s time well spent because we have so much fun being together and working on what we’re going to do.

“We get things ready ahead of time, but because we have to put the boat on the trailer and bring it over, we can’t really mount anything until it’s in the water. It takes between two or three hours once we’re here to get set up.”

Anderson resident Bill Norman was one of the thousands on hand to enjoy the labors of the Bynums and other boaters.

“This is my second parade of the day,” said Norman, whose family plans to relocate to the area in the coming months. “I started out in Pawleys Island this morning and everything has been great.

“I grew up in Minnesota and [the boat parade] reminds me of the flotilla we used to have on the lake. Except this is salt water and bigger boats. And a lot more people.”

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