Rain drenches Fourth of July events

Published 10:59 am Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Buddy Butler leans on his Rat Rod Ñ a 1953 Ford he planned to debut in the Newsoms Fourth of July parade on Monday. Rain canceled the annual event. GWEN ALBERS/TIDEWATER NEWS

NEWSOMS—The Fourth of July’s late afternoon rain brought relief to farmers and disappointment to Buddy Butler.

The 69-year-old Suffolk man planned to debut his latest car — his 1953 Ford ‘Rat Rod’ — in the Newsoms Fourth of July parade.

“They were going to let me lead the parade with that, but then we got rained out,” Butler said.

While the nearly 2 inches of rain that fell in parts of Western Tidewater on Monday drowned Newsoms’ parade and Sedley’s fireworks, Windsor was one of two Hampton Roads communities to shoot off fireworks; the other was Norfolk.

“We had a sprinkle maybe until the time the fireworks started,” said Windsor Mayor Carita Richardson. “When we started the fireworks around 8:40, then it started raining. So, a lot of people went to their cars to watch.”

“It was interesting,” Richardson continued. “It looked like two storms were going through. One went north of Smithfield and the other went south of us. We were blessed to be shower-free, although we do need rain.”

As for Sedley, the fireworks display was rescheduled for 9 p.m. Tuesday, weather permitting, said Anita Felts, chairwoman for the Sedley Recreation Association.

“From what I saw this morning, it doesn’t look promising,” Felts said. “The farmers need it (the rain) as well as everybody else. When you’re planning a fireworks display, (rain) certainly can hamper that.”

Organizers called off the $3,000 display within a half hour of the 9 p.m. Monday show time.

“We had someone check the forecast,” Felts said. “It was supposed to clear up in 30 minutes, and the bottom fell out again.”

That wasn’t the case in Windsor, where everything was held outdoors at Robinson Park.

“We were blessed,” Richardson said. “We had activities for children, we had a picnic and we had the band playing.”

In Newsoms, the rain began to fall about 15 minutes before the 5 p.m. parade. Forty-five minutes later it was canceled.

It was the first time in the last five years that Butler, who has relatives in Newsoms, did not participate. Each year, he drives a different car. They’ve included a 1955 Chevy, 2003 convertible Thunderbird and 1941 Ford.

This year’s entry was a 50th Anniversary Ford, a limited edition that marked the milestone for the first Model T in 1903. Butler paid $6,000 for the car and then painted it black, covered it with stickers, and glued plastic animals and model cars to the hood. He also turned the antlers from his grandson’s 8-point into a hood ornament.

“This car is a one-of-a-kind,” he said.

Despite the rain, Newsoms Ruritan Club still hosted an indoor picnic for several hundred folks.