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Festive finish to the Fourth
Annual parade rumbles through town
Maddie Watson watches the 55th annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade as it passes through Cumming on Wednesday morning. - photo by Jennifer Sami


* Tradition steams on. Go behind the scenes with steam engine operators as the prepare for the parade.

* And for much more from the parade, see the next edition of the Forsyth County News.

Glen Campanelli has been coming to see the steam engines roll through Cumming for 30 years and Wednesday morning was as enthusiastic as ever about the local Fourth of July tradition.

“It reminds me of the past and how it used to be when people would gather together like this in a town and come together for such a great event,” he said.

An Atlanta resident, Campanelli was among the hundreds of people lining Tribble Gap Road for the 55th annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade.

And unlike Tuesday night, when strong storms disrupted the festivities leading up to the annual fireworks show at the Cumming Fairgrounds, the weather cooperated.

Many in the crowd seemed to have heeded the advice of public safety officials, who encouraged parade-goers to stay hydrated and wear sunscreen.

As the parade neared its finish at the fairgrounds, the humidity and temperature were both on the rise. The high Wednesday was expected to reach about 94 degrees.

Wednesday’s procession was 20 to 25 steam engines strong, with a full complement of floats, children’s groups, churches and other parade standards. And with the July 31 primary fast approaching, there were also many politicians taking part.

Berry Riche of Haiti experienced his first parade — and first Independence Day — with host family, Sandi and David Smith of Cumming.

“This is our first time coming here to the steam engine parade and it is Berry’s first Fourth of July, so we are so glad we could experience this together,” Sandi Smith said.

Riche, who is visiting through the Hinche Scholars Program, was enjoying the sights and sounds — steam engine whistles are loud and high-pitched.

“I didn’t really know what to expect coming to this, but so far it is great,” Riche said. “I am so glad I have the chance to experience this in my time here.”

It was also a new experience for Brian Buth and his daughters.

“This is our first year coming here,” Buth said. “We are just really excited to see what the steam engines are all about.”

The steam engines date to the early 20th century, when they were used for work at sawmills and cotton gins.

They rumbled along Castleberry, their slow pace enabling the crowds to get a good look at them.

More importantly to the younger parade-goers, the people manning the steam engines toss candy as they lumber by. The sweet treats send children scrambling to pick up them up.

Brenda and Dennis Bagby have been coming to the parade for 40 years. This year they brought their three grandchildren — Micah, Griffin and Carson Bramblett.

“The boys love the steam engines, but definitely need earplugs,” Bagby said. “They mostly come for the candy though.”