BY CLARA VAUGHN, Eastern Shore Post —
Independence Day on the Eastern Shore evokes images of beach days, boating, patriotic parades, and Popsicles melting on a hot day.
But in Accomac, the issue of ice pops has become a heated debate.
The topic causing the fireworks: whether the Accomac Town Council should buy less-expensive ice pops, or spring for more-expensive, heathier fruit juice pops, for distribution after its July 4 parade.
The question divided the town council. Seemingly the only item on which both sides agree is that there are more meaningful items to discuss.
“I think bigger issues are more important,” said Accomac Mayor Patricia Smith, one of four elected officials to vote in May in favor of returning to the town’s traditional frozen treat.
Accomac served a healthier, all-fruit option at its Independence Day parade last year, according to Vice Mayor Christopher Newman.
“Of all of the problems in our world and our country, here we are in our little town in our county seat arguing about Popsicles,” said Newman, who said he was one of three to vote in favor of offering the fruit juice bars again this year.
The divide, however, is relatable wherever sweaty kids are quenching their summertime thirst with a frozen treat on a stick.
Low-priced but less wholesome? Or higher-priced and nutritional?
Accomac’s non-motorized Independence Day parade is steeped in small-town history. For decades residents have lined the streets in lawn chairs or traveled the parade route by foot, bike, horse, or golf cart.
After the procession along Front Street, residents gather at the courthouse green for a community celebration with live music and pulled pork barbecue for sale by the local church.
Accomac purchases 200 Popsicles to pass out free of charge, along with water, Smith said.
“That’s a pretty good turnout for a small town,” she said, using the Popsicle count as an indicator of parade attendance in a town of around 500.
Until 2022, Accomac served sugar-free Popsicles, Smith said, but last year purchased a fruit juice option instead, following a decision by the town council.
“I thought if we’re giving out Popsicles, we should give something healthier to the children,” Newman said.
The fruit juice bars come in lower-count boxes than the 18 packs of orange, grape, cherry, and tropical flavors the town traditionally served, and Newman spoke to Food Lion’s Onley manger, who provided a discount for the frozen fruit bars.
Even with the discount, they cost Accomac over $130 last year, compared to around $72 the town spent on sugar-free Popsicles in previous years, Smith said.
Those supporting the fruit juice bars contended Accomac can afford the option.
“We’re representing our town,” Newman said.
But Smith said the funds can go towards other projects in town.
“We’re a small town. You have to make choices. I chose to have a less expensive Popsicle,” she said, adding “that’s not a major issue – what kind of popsicles that you get for a parade.
“The issue is that everybody has a good time.”
Accomac will hold its annual Fourth of July Parade on Tuesday, July 4, starting at 10 a.m. at 24010 Front Street at the intersection of Joynes Neck Road.
All are invited to walk or ride in the non-motorized parade, including horses and leashed dogs. The parade takes place rain or shine.
Email [email protected] with any questions about the parade.