John White sent this to me, but this is a custom carried over
from the 18th century. In the past Christmas was the big day to fire off
a weapon in the South. This got the captured officers in trouble in
Charleston in 1780. The American officers captured at the siege of
Charleston were allowed to keep their sidearms (to include pistols and
fusils). However after firing them up in the air on Christmas the
British took them away (obviously some evil Gubmint anti-gun scheme!!)
Midnight musket shooters keep up New Year's tradition
CHERRYVILLE NC -- For more than a week, Boozie Dellinger has heard the
Nightly blasts - Cherryville's New Year's shooters practicing.
The scattered noise picked up around town after Christmas when youngsters
were testing replica muskets they'd gotten as gifts.
Dellinger, 66, who has taken part in the tradition for 54 years, thinks
it will stay strong because of a new crop of participants.
"We've got new blood coming in," he says. "Every kid in Cherryville wants
a musket - that's one of the biggest Christmas presents here. This
tradition won't die."
Introduced more than 200 years ago by German settlers, the "shoot" begins
at midnight on New Year's and continues until 6:30p.m.
Shooters travel from house to house, where they deliver a formal chant
and then fire their muskets charged with black gunpowder.
According to German tradition, the ear-splitting volleys bring good luck
and ward off evil spirits.
"It's an ongoing tradition - one that we're proud of," says Mayor Wade
Stroupe Jr. "It brings a lot of publicity to Cherryville and it's
something unique to us. There are a lot of older folks involved but a lot
of young people are carrying it on, too. It's very much alive."
Originally, Cherryville had one group of shooters. But in the early 1950s
a disagreement prompted them to split into separate units - the original
Cherryville New Year's Shooters and the Traditional New Year's Shooters.
The Cherryville shooters start at Black's Grill on N.C. 150 and the
Traditional shooters begin at City Hall.
More than 200 shooters are expected to take part in the events.
Both groups will come together at 6:30p.m. for a joint shoot at Rudisill
Stadium on East Church Street on N.C. 150.
Bad weather doesn't slow things down.
"I've shot in snow and sleet and rain," Dellinger says. "There's gonna be
shooting - no matter what."
Police Chief Jim Woodard says Cherryville has an ordinance that prohibits
discharging firearms inside the city limits, but suspends the law for the
New Year's shoot.
"It's powder and wadding they're firing. There are no balls in the
muskets," he says.
Woodard has met with representatives of the two groups to review "some
very simple rules we expect them to abide by."
"In the past, they've cooperated completely," Woodard says. "I don't
expect any problems this year."
2nd Regiment of the North Carolina Line