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Light fuse, get to town
City marks Fourth with fireworks, engine parade
fireworks 2-jd
FILE PHOTO Last year's fireworks display drew a crowd of thousands to the Cumming Fairgrounds.
Music, fireworks, dancing, a parade -- there's something for everyone during the annual July 4 celebration.
Organized by the city of Cumming, the event begins with a bang on July 3. Fireworks begin at 9:30 p.m.
"People who get there first get the choice seats," said Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt.
"If you get around the fairgrounds, or the pavilion, or even come to the parking deck or sit in the parking lot, you can see [the fireworks]."
Before the fireworks light up the sky, vendors will be selling a variety of food beginning at 6 p.m.
Patrons can then find their spaces and set up blankets and seats while eating dinner and listening to music from Gold 104.3. The radio station will begin a live remote broadcast at 5 p.m.
There will also be inflatables for children to play on, along with a performance by Georgia Sensations at 7:30 p.m.
Following the fireworks, an all-ages dance contest will begin at 10 p.m.
Cumming Fairgrounds Administrator Dave Horton said dancers "range in age from young kids to older adults, and the judges just put them up on stage and they have a dance-off."
"It's by audience applause so the crowd is the one that picks the winner."
The music and dancing will end by 11 p.m. to give people plenty of rest before returning early July 4 to reserve their seats for the 51st annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade.
Antique tractors, cars, steam engines and floats will cruise down Castleberry Road beginning at 10 a.m. The parade will end at the Cumming fairgrounds at noon.
"You don't see steam engines that lead a parade anywhere else around," Horton said. "It's just a really unique parade that brings people from not only this county, but other counties to watch.
"I think just July 4 in itself is such a community event that people get out and picnic and families come in from out of town. It's just a great community and family gathering."
Because there are no ticket sales and all events are free and open to the public, there is no way to accurately guess how many people attend the event each year.
Estimates have ranged between 50,000 and 60,000 over both days, which can include overlap.
Having been a part of the parade for more than 40 years, Gravitt has watched the event change along with the community.
"Seeing all the people who come to watch every year, and seeing their enjoyment -- that's what it's all about," he said. "[It's about] celebration and having a good time and enjoying the freedom that we all share."