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Fourth festivities start with fireworks tonight in Cumming

POSTED: July 2, 2014 4:12 p.m.
FCN file photo/

The 57th Annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade will roll through downtown Cumming on July Fourth.

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CUMMING — Thousands will gather in Cumming this week to celebrate the nation’s birthday.  

The Cumming Fairgrounds will be the site of the city’s annual Independence Day celebration, beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday.

Dave Horton, director of the fairgrounds, said the summer event is one of the biggest the venue holds all year.

He noted that since it is free, it’s not possible to take a formal headcount.

“But … just taking as good of an educated guess as we can since we deal with crowds all the time and also with input from the police department, we usually estimate the crowd here to be about 20,000 to 25,000 inside our fences,” Horton said.

In addition, he said, police estimate that as many as another 75,000 people gather outside the fairgrounds to watch the fireworks display, which will begin at 9:30 p.m.

People gather in parking lots all around town and some claim to be able to see some of the fireworks by just pulling over on nearby roads.

But there’s plenty of fun to be had even before the sparkling and booming display begins.

Family fun starts with a wide range of vendors presenting food, music, games and activities at 6 p.m.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said he and his family always get to the celebration early so they can check out the food and fun prior to the fireworks.

“We like to get some of that food that the vendors have down there,” he said. “It kind of reminds me of the [Cumming Country Fair & Festival].”

He said people come from all across north Georgia to enjoy the night’s events.

“Everybody likes to tailgate down at the fairgrounds,” he said. “They come and spend half the night there and everything’s free, so it’s real good for families.”

Horton said the fireworks display usually lasts about 25 minutes and features a unique range of offerings, such as shapes and smiley faces that aren’t usually seen at a municipal display.

And after the glittering grand finale, people should plan to hang around and avoid traffic tie-ups, which Horton said are probably the only downside to the evening’s festivities.

People who stay at the fairgrounds can continue to enjoy music and vendors, and the annual dance contest that begins at 10 p.m.

Anyone can take part in the contest, but Horton said kids typically have a bit of an advantage.

“When the audience is judging, as a rule, cute wins,” he said.

All those patrons at the July 3 events should plan to get at least a little bit of sleep since they’ll need to be downtown again at 10 a.m. Friday for the 57th Annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade.

The procession, which has been a vital part of the city’s history for more than half a century, was begun by its namesake families, the Thomases and the Mashburns.

Cindy Hansard, a descendant of Glen Thomas, one of the parade’s founders, organizes it every year.

This year’s route will take the parade, featuring as many as 25 of the antique steam engines that represent a bygone era of early 20th century agricultural and farming, will run from the intersection of Tribble Gap and Woodland Drive, along Tribble Gap and Castleberry roads to the Cumming Fairgrounds.

Besides the giant, lumbering steam engines, the parade also features the usual lineup of elected officials, businesses, churches, civic groups and kids’ organizations.

Those new to the parade will want to bring ear plugs since the steam engines all produce extremely loud whistles as the steam that powers them escapes.

It’s also a good idea to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on, an umbrella for some shade and plenty of water to stay hydrated in the 90-something degree heat.


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