It’s full steam ahead for the Fourth of July as the city of Cumming prepares for its annual holiday festivities.
The city’s Independence Day celebration begins July 3 with music, dancing and fireworks and continues July 4 with the Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade.
“This is a tradition that we look forward to,” said Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt. “I can remember as a kid back 60 years ago, when we used to have dinner on the ground during the Fourth … it was a big day then just like it is now.”
Dave Horton, Cumming Fairgrounds administrator, said the July 3 events will begin at 6 p.m. with food, vendors and fun activities for children.
The band Feedback will begin playing at 7:30 p.m. and fireworks are slated for 9:30 p.m. The fairgrounds fill up pretty quickly, Horton said.
“We’re so slammed on that July 3 there’s not much room to get around ... it’s pretty consistent. It stays packed,” he said.
Horton said after the fairgrounds fill, nearby parking lots are next to go.
“People line up all over town. Anywhere there’s asphalt to see the fireworks from,” he said. “There are 20,000 to 25,000 inside our fences, now with what’s in town it’s probably a total of 65,000 to 75,000 people.”
Following the fireworks, the band will keep playing for a dance contest that begins about 10 p.m.
“There’s dancing and live music … and it’s all going to be free so the whole family can come,” Gravitt said. “Due to the fact that the economy is bad, we think it will probably be the biggest [event] ever.”
The 54th annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade will begin at 10 a.m. July 4. Organizers say the long-standing tradition is as much fun for those who ride the engines as it is for spectators, who line up along the route and catch candy tossed by participants.
Years ago, residents A.G. Thomas and Jim Mashburn began the tradition, and it is one carried on by both families today.
Cindy Hansard, Thomas’ great-great-granddaughter, heads the event every year and also serves as president of the local steam engine association.
A newer tradition, started about nine years ago, carries on the excitement following the parade.
The Foster House’s annual turtle race will begin at 1 p.m., shortly after the parade ends.
“The parade is such a big part of our community and just a big tradition, so I think with the turtle race, the people who have done it in the past, for them, it’s become a tradition as well,” said Amanda Davis, restaurant owner.
About 30 turtles participated in last year’s race, a crowd Davis said was the largest in the event’s history. There is only one race and all turtles are invited to compete.
“Some of the smaller turtles have actually been the fastest,” Davis said. “There’s also been some really huge ones, but sometimes they don’t go anywhere, and sometimes they take off.”