Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year's Shooters

The Carhartt brown and camouflage were out in full force last night at the Cherryville, NC high school football stadium where the New Years shooters ended their traditional way of ringing in the New Year. My parents, extended family, and wife are all from Cherryville but having never actually lived here myself, I have never felt quite like I understand or fit into the culture of the town. Last night those feelings couldn't have been more evident. It was an extremely foreign experience just getting out of the car and walking to the football stadium.

Leslie and I recently finished living in South Korea where no one has a gun, I grew up in Kenya were no one but the police and bad guys had guns. But on the walk from the car to the football stadium last night I felt I was the only one without a gun. All the confederate flags, pick up trucks and guns brought back memories of pictures and videos shown in my U.S. history classes when we studied the unfortunate events of the 50's and 60's. It was a very surreal walk.

A sizeable portion of the town fills up the stands. The shooters get in a circle on the field and a man named Boozie chants in the New Year. When he's done he yells "empty 'em boys!" and the guns begin to blast. Starting in the corner of the field with the senior member of the group the black powder muskets begin to boom all around the field. The smoke engulfs everyone and everything, within a few minutes one can barely see across the field.

The New Years shooters are made up of all sorts. Men, women and children all participate, as long as you dress the part and bring a gun, you can shoot. I would be negligent if I failed to mention it's an almost exclusively Caucasian gathering. Alcohol is not baned, and overloading a shot is common and encouraged. Driving up in a truck that either has a confederate flag flying or stuck to the bumper seems to validate ones belonging.

We were able to take a few pictures and several good videos which I hope you enjoy. I would have to say that watching the New Year's Shooters bring in 2008 was as interesting and as memorable as any other event on our travels. Unlike Europe where we looked at buildings, ruins, architecture and historical sites, this was an up close looking into a culture and a people group. I always enjoy experiencing and learning about people who are different from myself. God created all sorts and I want to experience as much of His diversity as I can.