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'A great time': What Cumming mayor enjoyed most about Fourth of July festivities
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Families enjoyed music, games and more during the city of Cumming's festivities for the Fourth of July on Thursday. - photo by Ben Hendren

400 Studio: Thousands converge on Cumming for special Fourth of July tradition

Thousands converged on downtown Cumming on Thursday, July 4, 2019, for the 62nd Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade.
By: Jon Benson III

The Fourth of July started loud in Cumming and ended that way too.

And in between, residents seemed to revel in all the patriotic pageantry that the city had to offer, from the 62nd Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade in the morning to the Red, White & Rock Music Festival that guided the day to its climactic ending of fireworks over the Cumming Fairgrounds at night.

“I don’t think we could’ve asked for any more,” Cumming Mayor Troy Brumbalow said. “We had thousands of thousands of people, and all had a great time.”

Brumbalow and his wife, Jodie, were at the start of things. He led the parade in his 1978 Trans Am, a recreation of the iconic Pontiac Firebird Trans Am made famous by Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit,” part of which was filmed in Forsyth County.

Next in line was another retro vehicle: a replica 1969 Chevrolet Impala reminiscent of the patrol car that Forsyth County Sheriff’s Deputy James William Cantrell and Reserve Deputy Larry Mulkey were in on Jan. 10, 1972, when the two were killed during a traffic stop. Brumbalow and the city recreated the car as a memorial to the fallen officers, and Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman and his wife, Dana, drove it.

The cars weaved through downtown Cumming like a slow-motion chase scene with a procession of floats from local businesses, groups and organizations following behind, including the traditional collection of antique steam engines.

Brumbalow said he got away.

“No, he’s still chasing me,” Brumbalow said. “Still hasn’t caught the Bandit.”

The car will be kept at the Cumming Police Department until its permanent site at the planned Cumming City Center is finished, though Brumbalow said the city will use it for special events.

Though the day was filled with plenty to appreciate — from the parade to the first-ever Red, White & Rock Music Festival by 37 Main to eating and dance contests and carnival games and fireworks and raising $1,000 for the local Miracle League from a dunk tank with local elected officials — Brumbalow most relished displaying the replica car to the public and talking with members of the Cantrell and Mulkey families after the parade.

“That really made it for me this Fourth of July,” Brumbalow said. “I couldn’t have been happier with their appreciation for that car, celebrating their lives and their sacrifices.”

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