• The People’s Parade: 10 a.m., beginning at Dairy Queen on South Park Street, onto Maple Street, through Adamson Square, ending at Kmart on Bankhead Highway
• Sounds of Liberty concert: 8:15 p.m. at Carrollton Elementary School campus
• Fireworks show: Approximate start time is between 9-9:30 p.m., Carrollton Elementary campus
Carrollton police Chief Joel Richards said the Fourth of July excitement begins as early as 6 a.m. as people start to “stake out” their favorite viewing sites for the People’s Parade, and businesses along the parade route prepare to host private and public events.
There will be 17 police officers working today’s parade through downtown Carrollton.
“Some lead, some follow, others work the intersections and streets before and during the parade and then disperse the crowds after the parade,” Richards said.
Signup sheets for parade duty are always filled up within a week of their being posted, Richards said. “We all enjoy seeing the parade.”
Carrollton’s Fourth of July celebration doesn’t happen overnight. Police officers are among the many residents — including those behind the scenes — who make the city’s events work by planning, organizing, managing and performing.
In addition to the 17 officers, there is the six-person traffic unit that is “around all day” and whose work includes coordinating the flow for the morning’s parade and the egress from evening’s concert and fireworks show. At 10 p.m. additional officers are in place to direct the post-concert traffic flow at Trojan Drive and South Park Street, Trojan Drive and Ben Scott Boulevard, Ben Scott and Highway 166 Bypass, and Hay’s Mill Road and the bypass.
City parks personnel start several days before the parade by cutting the grass and making sure Adamson Square looks its best, said City Manager Casey Coleman. City sanitation workers place garbage receptacles along the entire parade route from the site of the parade line-up on South Park Street to the end of the parade route on Bankhead Highway. Workers place additional trash bins along the three-block area in which the square is centered and where the greatest concentration of spectators gathers. • Singing on the Steps
A live performance of patriotic music begins the day for many. A community choir, hosted and directed by Mark Barnes of Carrollton First United Methodist Church, begins rehearsal in the church’s fellowship hall at 8:30 a.m. and then moves to the front steps of the church on Newnan Street for its 9:15 pre-parade concert. The choir is open to all who would like to sing.
The group singing on the steps has been dubbed the Community Patriotic Choir this year by their long-time volunteer accompanist Terry Lowry, conductor of the CSO. Beth Shugart was the director of music at First Methodist who recruited Lowry to accompany the all-volunteer choir.
The tradition began simply enough.
“Someone said, ‘Let’s sing on the steps,’” said Ruth Reeve.
Idys Overton, a member of the First Methodist choir for the past 15 years, said that after the FMC choir had been on tour at various locations, including Carnegie Hall, it was Mrs. Reeve who asked “Why can’t we do something like that right here in Carrollton, Georgia?”
Overton recalled Dr. and Mrs. Reeve turning out every year for the singing. “Ruth bought a pair of stockings that were American flags and Dr. Tom had his patriotic tie,” Overton said. “They wore them every year!”
This year the choir will be accompanied by the Carroll Community Wind Ensemble, one of the outreach programs of the Carroll Symphony Orchestra. The wind ensemble was formed last fall for adults who had performed in high school or college symphonic band and who want to continue to play. Membership in it is open to all as well. • People’s Parade
The centerpiece of the morning is the People’s Parade, which Coleman described as “eclectic” because of the variety of its entries, ranging from floats to children’s red wagons and “everything in between,” including trucks, four-wheelers, tractors, go-karts, horses, and golf carts. Richards pointed out that this year’s parade will also feature the Carrollton Police Department’s new motorcycles and its restored ’63 Impala patrol car. The Carrollton Fire Department will have a ladder truck and a fire engine in the parade.
The People’s Parade began as a result of our country’s bicentennial festivities. As July 4, 1977, approached, organizations and individuals who had participated in the city’s bicentennial parade began to ask if there were going to be another parade on the Fourth. Someone suggested that people who were interested in participating should just get together and have one, that the parade should be “the people’s parade,” and so it became.
The Carrollton Jaycees organized and ran the parade every year until the club disbanded, said Jack Whitman. A number of the former Jaycees were among the charter members of the Carrollton Evening Sertoma Club, and so the new service club took up the sponsorship of The People’s Parade in 2001.
The Carrollton Evening Sertoma Club continues to sponsor the parade and as of Monday morning had 98 entries for this year. The number may be even higher by the time the parade steps off. The record number 110 entries occurred in 2004.
“Before 2004 we had very few float entries, and I thought of a way to increase that,” said Rebecca Smith, chairman of the parade committee. “So in 2005 we introduced the beautiful Community Spirit Cup Award that is presented to the best float entry.”
Each of the five float categories — large business, small business, church, civic, or individual — will be judged for their creative presentation. First place winners in each category will move on to compete for the Eighth Annual Community Spirit Award Cup, which will be presented at the evening’s Sounds of Liberty Concert.
“Veterans will play a large role in leading the parade,” Smith said. “The American Legion Post 143 will carry the flag, and will be followed by members of the Carroll County Veterans Memorial Park, World War II veteran Orin Whitman, Marine Corps League Aubrey Gilbert Detachment 1312 and the Young West Georgia Marines.”
Between six and eight of Carrollton’s sanitation workers clean up the entire length of the parade route, just over a mile and a half long, so that “soon after the parade is over you can’t even tell there’s been one,” Smith said.• Concert and fireworks
Long before the evening arrives, scores of other people are preparing for the concert and fireworks show. Lowry, the Carroll Symphony Orchestra conductor, selects and distributes the music to the 60 members of the orchestra, who ready it for performance.
Carrollton City Schools events coordinator Jay Goodman and the grounds crew see that the campuses of the schools are ready. Goodman succeeds long-time events coordinator Rich Brown, who retired this summer.
A professional fireworks crew from East Coast Pyrotechnics sets up at their launch site. Two other professional crews assemble the roofed concert stage and outdoor sound system. Personnel from radio stations Kiss 102.7 and B92 Country set up for live broadcasts of the concert.
Carrollton Fire Department personnel provide emergency management and response for any type of emergency, stationing one truck at the fireworks launch site, one at Allison Circle, and one at Hay’s Mill Overlook. • Carrollton’s first fireworks show
Today’s fireworks show, presented by the Carrollton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau and Tanner Health System, owes its origins to Dr. Roger Rossomondo, ophthalmologist and former city councilman. Rossomondo recalled that as his first Fourth of July in his new hometown approached, he inquired about the local fireworks shows and was told that the only fireworks display would be over the lake at Sunset Hills Country Club. He went, expecting to see something similar to what he had always seen in his home state of New Jersey.
He laughingly recalled, “It was two bottle rockets over the lake! One was a dud!”
Rossomondo was determined that there would be “real fireworks shows” in Carrollton in the future.
The next year the show took place over Lake Carroll at the culmination of a day’s events which had been sponsored by dozens of Carrollton businesses and individuals.
“I signed a personal guarantee for $5,000 to hire a professional fireworks crew to put on that show,” he said. “We were selling cups of Coca-Cola at 75 cents a cup. We’d hoped to make money from the barbecue, too, but the weather was so hot that the barbecue wasn’t selling. We’d been giving away programs during the day, but as the evening came on we realized that we hadn’t raised nearly the money we needed to pay for the fireworks. My sister, who’d come down from New Jersey to see the show, grabbed up the remaining programs and began to sell them as souvenirs! Later the city decided to pick up the difference between what we’d raised and what the fireworks were going to cost.”