Marietta Celebrates the Fourth!

Patriotism reigns in Marietta, Georgia on the Fourth of July.  From morning until night festivities to honor our nation’s independent spirit abound.  The annual parade and evening fireworks provide the atmosphere to celebrate our freedom.

Mayor Bill Dunaway launched the city’s annual Fourth of July parade back in 1968.

So there’s a certain poignancy in that he’ll serve as grand marshal in this year’s parade – particularly with the announcement that he will be stepping down from office at the end of the year.

Dunaway said he and his wife, Dot, were watching the Music Man musical in 1968, which features a Fourth of July celebration, when he thought the city should have a parade also.

“I realized that Marietta did not have one and couldn’t remember one growing up. Maybe we did, but I don’t remember it,” he said.

So he rounded up funding from the Marietta Rotary, Downtown Marietta Business Association, and Marietta Kiwanis, and got the manpower from the Jaycees to launch a parade that year. Gen. Hank Wilson, commander at Dobbins, was a friend of his parents, and Dunaway convinced Wilson to bring the military units.

The first year was a bit wild, Dunaway said.

“Rupert Raines (who would later become Marietta’s assistant police chief) was in charge of the fireworks and he dang near burned the Square down,” Dunaway said.

He shot the fireworks straight up in the air over the building that houses the Brumby Chair Factory, causing people to dodge the fiery sparks as they poured down. Also that year, Dunaway said they tossed live turkeys from the roof of his former drugstore on the Square. Those who could catch the turkey could keep it, he said.

The late Judge J.J. Daniel, namesake of the Cobb middle school, served as the first grand marshal.

Dunaway said while they had cooperation from the city, it was not involved otherwise.

“It remained a Jaycee project for four or five years then it got too large and the Jaycees got worn out, so the city took over,” he said.

There are 107 entries signed up to participate this year, among them the Air National Guard Band of the South, the Marietta High School Band, the Chapter One Georgia Vietnam Veterans Alliance, Zion Baptist Church and the usual gaggle of elected officials from Congressman Phil Gingrey (R-Marietta) to state Rep. Judy Manning (R-Marietta) and Secretary of State Karen Handel.

The parade begins at 10 a.m. on July 4, a Saturday, beginning in the Roswell Street Baptist Church parking lot and proceeds west along Roswell Street to East Park Square. The parade then proceeds in front of the viewing stand on East Park Square and continues along Cherokee Street to the Cobb County Police/911 Headquarters. The route is about 1.5 miles, said Rich Buss, parks director.

After the parade ends, residents can enjoy a festival with nearly 90 arts and crafts booths, 20 food concessions, 15 giant inflatables and entertainment throughout the day including the National Bell Ringing Ceremony set to start at 2 p.m. The daylong event is concluded with a 22-minute fireworks display.

The popular farmers market on the Square will be closed that day for the parade, Buss said.  Everyone deserves the day off, especially for this poignant occasion!

Author:Anne Ortiz (Maximum One Realty Greater Atlanta)