by David Cecelski
One of the loveliest places you can be on a late summer Saturday night is Big T’s in Hope Mills, a town a little south and west of Fayetteville. I was down there tonight to watch my son compete in a cross country meet and I thought the scene around Big T’s was just enchanting.
Big T’s is a purveyor of shaved-ice snow cones and a general, all-around concession stand on Hope Mills Lake, a (usually) picturesque body of water in the heart of the city’s downtown. The lake was formed in 1839, when a dam was built on Little Rockfish Creek to power the local cotton mills.
A leak in the dam’s foundation left the lake stone dry this summer, but Big T’s is still lively. Tonight, families sat on picnic tables in Big T’s lakeside pavilion and relished their snow cones. Couples strolled along the lakefront, snow cones in hand. A big crowd of teenagers frolicked by the pier and gazebo, too, and they frequently went up to Big T’s for refreshments. They looked ecstatic to be on their own on a warm, breezy Saturday night.
A classic car club called the Hope Mills Cruzers was there, too. Their muscle and antique cars filled the parking lot. The club’s members have a cruise-in at Big T’s every Saturday night. They sat in fold-out chairs, devoured snow cones, and showed off their cars to curious passers-by. Big T’s also hosts free movies on the lawn on Saturday nights during the summer, and the popcorn, I’ve heard, is free, too.
Big T’s is located at 3609 N. Main Street in Hope Mills. You can see more photos of Big T’s and its proprietors, Tim and Donna, at the web site for the Hope Mills Cruzers—www.hopemillscruzers.com.