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City offers two days of Fourth fun
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The crowd listens to music at the Cumming Fairgrounds in 2009. - photo by File photo
The city of Cumming’s Fourth of July festivities aim to be family oriented.

For the Lamb family, it meant one member would have to wait a little longer to join the fun.

Cory Lamb said her husband has a July 6 birthday because of his mother’s love of the annual events.

“[Doctors] wanted to induce her on the third and she wouldn’t let them because she said, ‘I have to be at the [Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine] parade,’” Lamb said.

From setup at the Cumming Fairgrounds to the last steam engine passing through town, Lamb’s family and friends will enjoy every minute together in a tradition that spans three generations for the county natives.

“Our whole little family in July revolves around the parade and fireworks,” she said.

This year’s city celebration will begin at 6 p.m. Friday with food, vendors, games and music at the fairgrounds.

The fireworks show will launch about 9:30 that night, with a dance contest following the 25-minute display.

The next morning, the Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade will set out about 10 a.m. from Forsyth Central High School.

The weekend’s organized activities conclude after the parade with the annual turtle race at the Foster House restaurant.

Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said he looks forward to the city’s celebration each year.

The historic steam engines are his favorite part of the festivities, though he said of the fireworks, “Oh, I’ll be there. I never miss it.”

Gravitt also enjoys the patriotic clothing that people wear to celebrate the nation’s history and independence.

Lamb’s family — including three children, ages 2, 6 and 8 — will be sporting festive attire.

“We buy our kids special outfits to wear that all match for the fireworks night and then for the parade the next day,” she said.

She watches the fireworks each year with about 10 other couples and their children during what the mayor considers one of the town’s largest get-togethers.

“Everybody’s invited to come out and enjoy the social activities,” Gravitt said.

Dave Horton, administrator of the fairgrounds, agreed the events bring the community together.

“You always see a lot of the same folks and, of course, you meet some new people,” he said.

The parade is in its 53rd year, with several residents having attended nearly every one of the processions.

The city added a festival about 30 years ago, Horton said. The event originally involved several messy community games at the city park.

Later, the celebration moved to the town square, where there was a street dance and cookout featuring about 100 hams.

The fairgrounds festivities began when the facility opened in 1995 and have grown each year since.

Horton’s favorite event is the fireworks, though he noted he sees more of the reactions on people’s faces as he paces the grounds than the explosions in the sky.

The fireworks will launch from a safe place at the fairgrounds campground again this year.

The switch from the previous launch spot, in the parking lot across the street, was made last year. The change caused Horton to spend his pre-show time telling people to turn their chairs around.

The towering fireworks shots can be seen from just about any place in town, he said. Aside from the fairgrounds, nearby shopping plazas have some of the best views.

As it gets closer to the show’s start, the streets fill up, Horton said, so stake out a good spot early.

“They park all over town,” Horton said. “Anywhere there’s asphalt, they’ll pull off and watch.”

All those vehicles parked to enjoy the nighttime spectacle means traffic afterwards, but Horton has a good solution for that one too.

“When the fireworks are over, enjoy the dance contest, enjoy the last set the band will do before they pack up, and by then ... the traffic’s kind of gone,” he said. “But for an hour, you just see tail lights lined up.”

Since the show takes place on July 2 this year, Horton added that “pyrotechnic nuts” will have a chance to see as many as three shows over the weekend throughout the area.

Lamb doesn’t have any intent to see another show. She’s set on the one she knows and loves.

“You can go see probably far better fireworks in downtown [Atlanta], but it’s not a family atmosphere, like where you’re born and raised,” she said.

“And even if you’re weren’t born and raised here, it still feels like it when you’re there.”