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Area residents celebrate Independence Day with day at Clarks Hill Lake

From cookouts, picnics, sunbathing, swimming, jet skiing, boating and shooting fireworks - such seemed the norm for hundreds of people who flocked to Clarks Hill Lake to enjoy a mid-week holiday last Wednesday in McDuffie and Lincoln counties.

The holiday was in observance of July Fourth - a day that saw America celebrate her 232nd birthday - a day referred to by some as Independence Day. It also marked a time for many military families to remember loved ones serving overseas and in the wars of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as women and men who have sacrificed their lives for duty to their country in past years.

Aside from those who enjoyed various activities at area lakes, there were many who spent the day at home mowing grass, cleaning their yards or entertaining family and friends with big cookouts.

Nothing seemed lacking when it came time to eat.

Everywhere there was a big crowd, it seemed there was an abundance of food, too.

The charcoal cooking on outdoor grills filled the air with the smell of delicious food, such as ribs, pork chops, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. There were many side dishes, too, such as potato salad, coleslaw, chips and a variety of snacks and desserts.

Still, there were others who enjoyed hassle-free cooking, setting their taste buds on delicious barbecue, stew and hash.

And of course, there were plenty of cold drinks, tea, Kool-Aid and other beverages.

For Debra Ballard Quinn of Thomson and several friends, it was a time to relax and unwind on the beach at Clarks Hill Lake.

"We're grilling, floating and chilling," said Ms. Quinn, who operates a hair salon business in Warrenton. "We've been doing a lot of talking and we're going to do a lot more."

One of the friends with Ms. Quinn was Betsy Chalker of Sparta.

"We've really enjoyed spending time together," said Ms. Chalker. "It's been fun just playing in the water and getting a little sun."

For Camak's Scotty Langham, who is recuperating from a leg injury he suffered in a dirt bike mishap several months ago, it was a time to lounge in a chair and simply, "enjoy the scenery."

Two others with the group included Shae Newsome, formerly of Thomson and now living in Augusta, and Devin English, of Thomson. The group arrived to the beach area about midmorning and didn't leave until about dark.

Anthony Erwin, a recent graduate of Thomson High School, enjoyed the day, meanwhile, with an estimated 50 family members in the same area of the beach.

"We're just up here to have a little fun and mingle with a lot of family," said Mr. Erwin, who will be attending USC-Aiken in the fall on a baseball scholarship. "We're going to be doing a lot of eating and playing around in the water, too."

For an Augusta family, the July Fourth afternoon was a time to spend together at the Raysville Marina Fish House.

It also was a time for catching fish - though little - the family of Grover and Arlene Jones said they had a wonderful time fishing in the fish house for the first time.

"We'd heard of the fish house, but had never been up here," said Natissa Whitehead, whose 12-year-old son, Walter, was busy catching small brim.

"This is a lot of fun for our whole family," said Mrs. Whitehead, whose husband, Walter, was fishing outside the fish house, along the banks with other family members. "We're definitely going to be coming back up here, because it's so much fun."

Some of the other family members journeying from Richmond County to McDuffie County to celebrate July Fourth included Olivia Brown, Mija Brown, 10, Raylon Jones, 18, Kenneth Eric Jones, 11 and his father, Kenneth Jones.

All around Raysville Marina, people were doing their own thing to have fun. Some of them rode in boats, horsed-around on jet skis, or played in the water. A number of them had the rest of the week off for vacation and decided to take in a few days of camping out in trailers and tents.

Web posted on Thursday, July 12, 2007

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