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Steamy salute to independence
Annual downtown Cumming parade continues long-standing tradition
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Forsyth County News
It's no secret to Dave Horton why people enjoy the July 4th Thomas-Masburn Steam Engine Parade.
"It's a great look back into yesteryear," the Cumming Fairgrounds director said. "It's such a unique parade."
Horton said what makes it unique is that most steam engines are not made to ride on the road.
"Most engines are made for fields," he said. "These guys fixed their wheels so they can ride right down the road and everybody can watch."
The parade starts at 10 a.m. Friday, running from Tribble Gap Road at the intersection of Woodland Drive, then it continues south on Castleberry Road to the Cumming Fairgrounds.
Horton said the steam engine parade is one of the more popular events at the city's 4th of July celebration.
"We certainly invite everyone to come out and enjoy the parade with us," said city of Cumming Mayor H. Ford Gravitt, "and to get a seat on the parade route."
Gravitt said he's been coming to the 51-year-old parade for 41 years.
Many other Forsyth County residents have been involved for quite a while as well.
Van Masburn LeBlanc plays the calliope, a small organ, on the back of one of the steam engines in the parade.
"I've been doing it a long time," LeBlanc said. "I've played the calliope through four pregnancies."
She said she and her son, Christopher LeBlanc, usually ride in the same steam engine with Chris at the wheel. She said they plan to do it again this year too.
"It gets a little hot and steamy on the back [of the engine]," she said.
"People love it though. The kids get excited...and when I start playing the dogs start howling."
The parade also includes antique cars, tractors and holiday-themed floats.
Attendees who want a closer look at the steam engines and antique vehicles can swing by the fairgrounds afterward, where they will be parked around noon.