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Lake, weather buoy prospects for holiday weekend
Marie Lathem helps arrange desserts Tuesday at the Publix bakery on Atlanta Highway. The store has many specials for the July Fourth weekend. - photo by Autumn McBride

Kenny and Darlene Haddock are expecting record crowds this July Fourth holiday weekend.

He serves as general manager and she as the store manager at Habersham Marina off Buford Dam Road near Cumming.

"Memorial Day broke every record we had, so we’re expecting the same for the Fourth of July," Kenny Haddock said.

His wife said she and her employees placed their last order in preparation of the busy weekend Tuesday.

"We’re almost ready for the holiday," she said. "We order extra life jackets, fire extinguishers, horns, paddles, all the safety stuff. A lot of people visit and bring their family and friends, so they don’t have enough of the things they need."

Besides safety equipment, Darlene Haddock said the marina store also sells ski ropes, wake boards and tubes and other floats.

"This holiday’s going to be big because they’re not calling for any rain all weekend," she said.

The marina, which has space to store nearly 600 boats, is nearly at capacity.

And the water level — Lanier was at 1067.87 feet above sea level on Wednesday— won’t hurt.

Darlene Haddock said those numbers — combined with the expected sunny, warm weather — led the marina to increase its staffing to 15 or 16 employees, up from about nine for a non-holiday weekend.

North of the marina, Forsyth County is preparing for a busy weekend at Shady Grove Campground.

Jodi Gardner, spokeswoman for the county, said the 113-site campground averages about 1,000 people per day during the week of the Fourth.

The duration of the holiday period, makes it the busiest time of the season, she said.

"The July Fourth holiday week is typically a busy one at the campground for the entire week, whereas Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend are typically busiest just during the holiday weekend," she said.

The Independence Day weekend is also a positive sales period for many local retailers.

Steve Reid, manager of the Super Target store on Market Place Boulevard in Cumming, said July Fourth always leads to "great business."

"Especially in Forsyth County with the lake, we see a lot of traffic," he said.

He said the store offers specials on items for outdoor activities such as tents, air beds and swimsuits.

"Especially with all the hot weather we’ve had, I think everybody’s looking for ways to stay cool," he said.

While many will spend the weekend on the lake, others may stay home for a family barbecue.

Brenda Reid, a spokeswoman for Publix grocery stores, said the company is running specials revolving around the home barbecue.

"Grilling is the key," she said. "That’s the buzz for the Fourth."

She said some of the items on sale this week include pork spare ribs, watermelons and cantaloupes, hot dogs, sweet Georgia corn and iced tea.

"We’ll also have our lovely decorated cupcakes, a six-count for $3.99," she said. "And of course apple pies will be on sale for $3.99 since this is the American holiday."

Likewise, Steve Reid said Target has a number of holiday favorite foods on sale this week.

"We’ve got ribs for $1.99 a pound, corn that’s five for a $1 and large, seedless watermelons for $3.99," he said.

Both stores are also carrying a selection of fireworks in preparation for the patriotic festivities.

"We’ve got a fairly large selection of sparklers and other low level fireworks," Steve Reid said.

Target also has specials on items like coolers and outdoor furniture, he said.

For those traveling this holiday weekend, Brenda Reid said Publix features a special on gas cards.

"When you buy $25 or more in groceries, you can get $10 off a $50 gas card," she said. "That’s important because a lot of people do a lot of running around and travel during the holiday period."

For those staying close to home, the Haddocks will be ready and waiting at Habersham Marina.

"We expect this July Fourth to be especially huge," Darlene Haddock said. "People will probably start coming out [today] and it will keep going until at least Tuesday. We’re expecting a big weekend."