Buffalo Riders to help Franklin celebrate Fourth

Published 11:26 am Saturday, June 28, 2014

FRANKLIN—Franklin officials and members of the Buffalo Riders will work up until the last minute to make Franklin’s Fourth of July Celebration special.

And they’re being rewarded for their efforts. The 195th Army Band will be kicking off the celebration at noon, and they’ll be followed by the Dave Cynar Band at 2 p.m. and the MVP Band at 5 p.m.

Besides music, they’ll also have the city pool open for swimmers, and the Nightingale will be on hand and crew members will clue people in on how they operate when responding to an accident.

That’s on top of some of the stuff already scheduled. There will be bounce houses for both kids and adults. There will be horse and pony rides, a dunking booth, food vendors and educational vendors providing free books for children. Gates at the Armory Field Sports Complex will open at noon on Saturday, July 5, and will close at 7 p.m.

“I’m just excited about everything,” said Mayor Raystine Johnson-Ashburn. “I’m very appreciative for the support, all of the sponsorships and how the vendors have responded.”

The one key for the mayor about this event is family.

“Family is everything,” Johnson-Ashburn said. “This is an opportunity for the family to remain at home, and not get on the dangerous highways to have some fun. We are going to have a fun-filled day that is for the whole family, for everyone in the community right here. We are just excited.”

Ken Wright, president of the Buffalo Riders of Hampton Roads, said this is the first time their organization has partnered on an event like this.

“We are just excited that the City of Franklin wants to partner with us, as we want to partner with them as well,” he said. “This is going to be a good family fun day for all ages.

“Being that this is a holiday weekend, I am sure that a lot of people from out of town will be visiting family in Franklin, and hopefully they will just bring them all out!”

The Buffalo Riders will be bringing out horses and a pony and leading people around a roped-in arena for rides.

“Anybody can get up on the horses,” he said. “So many people tell me that they have never been on a horse, but that they’d like to come out just to get a chance to ride on the back of a horse. And this is an opportunity for people who have never had the chance to ride a horse or pony before.”

Of course, the Buffalo Riders are also happy to talk history about the Buffalo Soldiers of the U.S. Army calvary forces and the black cowboys.

“I always loved cowboy movies growing up, and Roy Rogers and Gene Autry were my favorites,” he said.

“I was not aware that there were African-American cowboys of the Old West until later on. And then I learned about the Buffalo Soldiers, who were formed in 1866 and fought in the Indian Wars.

“I think it is a good history, and one that we need to pass on about our ancestors, and who they were. We are the Buffalo Riders, and we keep that history alive.”

I-Ride will also be pulling double duty that day, as in addition to their regular service, they will be providing a free shuttle to the event. The pickup locations are the Berkley Apartments, Dorchester Square Apartments, the Franklin Library, the Franklin South Apartments, Forest Pine Apartments, Holland Trace Apartments, the Martin Luther King Jr. Center, Newport Village Apartments and the Old Town Terrace. Parking will be available at the Scott’s Revival Center and First Baptist Church on Hall Street, where the free shuttle service will also respond.

City officials will also be on hand to greet guests, and the city has invited the Southampton Board of Supervisors, Del. Roslyn Tyler and Del. Rick Morris.

“Our outreach includes the surrounding counties,” Johnson-Ashburn said. “Hopefully we will have a great mix of people from all of the surrounding communities. I believe we will have a great day.”