AIKEN -- When someone asked who would donate $20 to smear a banana cream pie in the face of Aiken City Councilman Skipper Perry on Saturday, a rambunctious 9-year-old answered the call.
Then he turned to his mom and asked for the money, who graciously forked it over for a good cause -- to help buy the Carolina Bay Nature Reserve.
Eyeing a row of pies, Bobby Buckley took only a minute to choose the creamiest one of all, then summoned Mr. Perry to hunker down to his 4-foot level.
Placing the pie in his right hand, little Bobby took aim. And on the count of three the pie landed right on target, between Mr. Perry's eyes, in his hair and up his nostrils.
"Doesn't taste bad," Mr. Perry said, licking the goo from the corner of his mouth.
"Boy what some people will do for a vote," someone heckled from the back of the crowd.
A Republican, Mr. Perry is one of three candidates running for the South Carolina House of Representatives seat held by the late Rudy Mason.
The shallow wetland, on behalf of which the councilman was pied, lies between Two Notch and Whiskey roads, just across Price Avenue from the H. Odell Weeks Center.
The 14-acre area -- almost out of earshot from the bustle of city life -- provides natural nesting habitats for wood ducks and small herons, a resting place for migratory birds and summer feeding grounds for egrets.
The Aiken County Open Land Trust is trying to buy the bay and needs nearly $250,000 to complete the purchase.
Saturday's fourth annual Pennies for the Park Parade and Picnic, always held before the Fourth of July, pulled in a total of $2,373.90.
Geologists at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory say there once were more than 10,000 Carolina bays, most scattered in a broad band from Georgia through the Carolinas and into Virginia.
But more than half of them have been filled in over the last 200 years, and very few remain in urban settings.
Unlike many Americans, the Buckleys won't hit the byways of America this weekend to celebrate Independence Day.
Bobby seemed quite content stripped down to his shorts eating watermelon and being crowned the winner of the pie eating contest for the third year in a row, with a record-time of four minutes.
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