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Steam parade rumbles through Cumming
1WEB ears plugged
Plugged ears were a common sight along the parade route - photo by Jim Dean

CUMMING - It was a hot Monday, but that didn’t stop Forsyth County residents and visitors from celebrating Independence Day.

The city of Cumming held the 59th annual Thomas-Mashburn Steam Engine Parade which runs through downtown Cumming from Forsyth Central High School to the Cumming Fairgrounds.

“I think it’s the most awesome parade around,” said Kelly Schomburger, who was attending for about her eighth time. “It just seems so patriotic, because the whole town comes out, everybody’s waving flags and the historical part of it.”

One of the parade’s major attractions is the dozens of antique steam engines, which date back to the late 1880s and early 1900s and were originally used for lumber and farming.

“I’m not a parade person, but the tractors are awesome,” said Todd Gunby, who was attending his second parade with Schomburger.

Mayor H. Ford Gravitt said the steam engines bring a lot of attention to the parade.

“It doesn’t cost anything, so we have a lot of tourists that come in each year and stay at the motels and hotels that spend a couple of nights just to see our parade, because we have one of the biggest steam engine participations in the country,” Gravitt said.

The parade featured floats and other rides from local veterans groups, nonprofits, political candidates and local businesses.

Each year, the engines are joined by classic cars, emergency vehicles, trucks and floats that throw and other goodies to the crowd.

“It’s a great community event, because it’s a family event and the kids enjoy bringing their candy buckets and their bags and taking the candy that is thrown out by the people in the parade,” Gravitt said.

This year, Gravitt said he was happy to see a strong turnout in one area.

“We had a lot of participants and were glad to have much more military in it than usual,” he said. “I thought it was one of our best parades.”

This was Cumming’s second Fourth of July celebration for the weekend. On Sunday, the city held its annual fireworks at Cumming Fairgrounds, which, like the parade, city officials said was “packed.”

Although there was warm weather, it didn’t seem to stop anybody’s fun.

“The parade was pretty good, except for how hot it is outside,” said 9-year-old Jessica Lynn Stephens, who said this year was unique. “It was a lot different this year, because they threw out [water] squirters and different kinds of candy.”