Family Travel 2011

Megan Sexton



Celebrate Dizzy Gillespie's birthday in Cheraw

Posted 9/25/2011 7:58:00 PM

The Cheraw Town Green is home 7-foot bronze statue of a local musician whose face is recognizable all over the world.

Trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie was known for his bulging cheeks and bebop jazz. He was famous all over the word -- he performed at the White House for eight presidents -- and almost always opened his performances with “I'm Dizzy Gillespie from Chee-raw, South Carolina.”

Cheraw is truly proud of its native son, known as one of the founders of modern jazz. The town also features the Dizzy Gillespie Home Site Park, with stainless steel benches, modern sculpture and a fence inscribed with the notes to “Salt Peanuts," one of Gillespie's most famous songs. 

And each October, it throws Dizzy a birthday party. This year's party (it's actually called the South Carolina Jazz Festival, is set for Oct. 14-16. There will be a bebop parade, all-you-can-eat barbecue, children's events on the Town Green and plenty of jazz to honor Dizzy, who would have been 94 on Oct. 21.

It's never too soon to introduce your kids to the sounds of jazz. And it's hard not to smile when you watch Dizzy's cheeks bulging as he plays his trademark bent horn.

While you're there, stroll around the town of Cheraw, one of the state's oldest inland cities. Cheraw is in the northeastern midlands of South Carolina, 40 minutes from Interstate 95 at Florence or Dillon, 85 miles northeast of Columbia and 75 miles southeast of Charlotte.

Along with the downtown area, Cheraw State Park is home to the 300-acre Lake Juniper, cabins and walking trails. If you're looking for an easy boardwalk stroll, try the half-mile walk that takes you onto the lake to the Lake Juniper Dam. You'll even cross a spillway with rushing water, and you'll probably spot ducks, egrets, turtles and maybe even a bald eagle or red-tailed hawk.

Jazz and nature -- all in one weekend.