Home is where the heart is

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 12, 2004

AHOSKIE – While his friends were enjoying the Independence Day holiday involved in numerous activities near the Outer Banks, five-year-old Paxtin Powell was stuck in Ahoskie.

Powell’s parents, William and Eddie Jo, were at their family business – Powell’s Market – in Currituck County. Due to the busy summer season, the Powells often send their son to Ahoskie to spend time with his uncle and aunt – Bill and Susan Earley.

While he enjoyed visiting with his Ahoskie family, young Paxtin yearned to be at home with his friends, especially to take part in the annual Bike Parade on tap for July 4th.

Sensing their nephew was homesick, the Earleys went to work on hosting their own version of a bike parade.

On the Tuesday prior to July 4th, Mrs. Earley began to work the phones, calling friends and neighbors to see if their children or other family members would like to participate. She then launched a search for festive holiday items – streamers, balloons, party favors, etc.

On Friday, Paxtin joined his uncle in Mrs. Earley’s kitchen where the trio baked brownies and cut fresh fruit. The &uot;team&uot; then began the task of accumulating beach towels, chairs and tables in order to make their invited guests comfortable.

Paxtin then decided if the parade did come together as expected, the kids would need &uot;marching music.&uot; A trip to the Ahoskie Library with Uncle Bill took care of that detail.

Early Saturday morning (July 3), the trio was outside, decorating for their big day. By the time the guests began to arrive by 10 a.m., the Earley’s yard was transformed into a colorful array of patriotic colors – red, white and blue streamers and balloons. Those colors covered the trunks of trees and the tables while the American flag flew proudly in the gentle morning breeze.

As the neighborhood children began to arrive, they were asked to check in at a table where a &uot;star&uot; name tag and items to decorate their bikes with were at their disposal.

The children, ages one month to 11 years, turned out in large numbers. They hailed from Ahoskie, Murfreesboro, Woodland, Millennium, Powellsville, Union and Apex (in Wake County).

Bill Earley provided the historic significance of July 4th followed by the group reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.

Then came the moment everyone, especially young Paxtin, was waiting for – the sounds of the marching music. Mr. Earley waved a flag and the children took off on their old-fashioned bicycle parade.

Beginning at 916 West Stokes Street, the children slowly wound their way to Curtis Street, turned onto Camlin Street, traveled onto Pembroke Ave. and then made their way back to Stokes Street.

Back at the Earley’s residence, the participants relaxed on the beach towels and chairs before being treated to hot dogs and Kool-Aid. After regaining their energy, the children polished off the afternoon with games, jumping rope and even a bit more bike riding.

But most of all, they made friendships that will last a lifetime while Paxtin learned that home is where the heart is.