A 71-year-old man delayed the annual Red Top Labor Day Parade for more than an hour this morning after he told people there was a bomb in his trunk, according to the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office.
Matthew Polite Jr. was charged with communicating a bomb threat and taken to the Charleston County jail.
Several parade organizers said they didn’t know Polite but believed he was a visitor who didn’t live in the community. His address was not available Monday.
Red Top is a largely rural and predominantly African American community west of Charleston. The Labor Day parade has been an annual tradition for 34 years. It’s the highlight of the year for residents. Hundreds turn out to cheer and socialize and let their kids grab candy. After it’s over, everybody gathers at the community center for a meal while the kids play on a jump castle and ride horses.
It’s a big enough deal that deputies shut down busy Savannah Highway while the parade crosses the road.
This year was a little different. People were lining up to watch the parade, which was supposed to start at 10 a.m. Deputies asked Polite to move his 2012 Kia away from the road, Maj. Jim Brady said. Polite started telling people there was a bomb in his trunk, according to deputies.
Deputies cordoned off Old Charleston Road between U.S. Highway 17 and Main Road while the county bomb squad checked the Kia. People stood around waiting. One kid seemed to be taking a nap on the hood of a patrol car.
Deputies cleared the Kia at 11:05 a.m. and reopened the area to traffic. The parade started soon after.
Residents took it all in stride and still had a good time, according to parade organizer Angela Brown with the Red Top Improvement Association.
“I’m sorry the bomb threat had to overshadow the nice parade,” she said. “It’s like a reunion. Everybody looks forward to it.”
Reach Dave Munday at 937-5553 or twitter.com/dmunday.