by Michael Andrews
This year’s Fourth of July festivities have been confirmed. Once again, the annual Independence Day Parade will take place in the evening beginning at 6 p.m.
Parade organizer Kathy Robinson said the later start time saves trouble for some attendees who want to see both the parade –– previously held the morning of the Fourth –– and the nighttime fireworks display.
“It’s (convenient) because they can come to town in the evening and not have to come back,” Robinson said.
Fireworks are scheduled to be launched from the campus of Ellijay Elementary School at dusk –– around 9 p.m.
This year’s parade theme will be “A Star Spangled Beach Party,” said Robinson. Inflated beach balls, along with wrapped candy, will be thrown to spectators from the floats.
“This year we have sponsors. All the sponsors have their names on beachballs. We have 1,500 beachballs we’re going to (bring to) the parade,” said Robinson. “Vendors will be set up in the alley (behind North Main Street) so it will be like a boardwalk.”
Robinson said the parade’s grand marshal will be Sammie Jo Hawkins, quite possibly the youngest grand marshal to date. Hawkins, age 8, is the daughter of the late Erin Fuller and the granddaughter of Terrie Leyden, proprietor of downtown Ellijay’s Corner Stone Cafe.
The parade will be followed by a “No Buffett Live Beach Party” event in the city parking lot on River Street. Music by singer Jimmy Buffett and other beach-themed artists will be played by deejay Terry Ellis. An installment of the same event followed last year’s parade.
“During the day we’ll play beach music and Jimmy Buffett music after the parade until the fireworks,” said Robinson.
She added that the beach party event is intended to be family-friendly, although beer will be served by at least one vendor.
Ellijay Better Home Town Director Mona Lowe said persons who rent private property spaces from business owners for vending purposes need to have a vendor’s permit.
“If they’re the business owner, it’s fine. But if they are renting the space, they need to have a permit,” Lowe confirmed. “We would also like to encourage vendors who don’t sell the same type merchandise (sold by downtown) merchants.”
The event permit, which costs $35, is good only for the day of the parade.
Parade entrants will begin assembling along Sailors Drive at 4 p.m. the evening of Thursday, July 4. Float judging will take place at 5 p.m. Trophies and cash prizes will be awarded to the top three floats.
Vendor permits and parade applications are available at Ellijay City Hall and Cartecay River Trading Company. Lowe said prospective vendors can phone the Better Home Town office for more information at (706) 635-4711.