Tumlin believes the cool weather and the fact last year’s parade was rained out is what attracted so many people. The celebration was still going strong when he returned to the Marietta Square later in the afternoon.
But before going to the Square to enjoy Independence Day, people lined the streets and filled the parking lot at Roswell Street Baptist Church to watch or march in the parade.
From politicians to beauty queens, the parade lineup had a wide range. Young children rode scooters. Boy Scouts carried large American flags. A pair of seniors celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary were carried down the road in a horse-drawn carriage. Civil War and Revolutionary War re-enactors were dressed for the part.
Drivers of a group of Ford Mustangs revved their engines every chance they got.
Volunteer Shyan Heda was one of the people stationed at the church to ensure each group stepped off in the correct order and on time.
Heda, a Kennesaw resident, said he emigrated from India when he was 22 to find better opportunities in the U.S. Now retired, he spends much of his time volunteering and said the parade is “the best way to remember the sacrifices we made to get our independence.”
Paying tribute to those sacrifices was a common theme among parade goers and participants. As a group of Vietnam veterans made their way down the street, cheering and applause could be heard all around them.
One person cheering them on was Abby Bishop of Kennesaw, who will be a freshman this fall at Georgia College and State University in Milledgeville.
“We forget that there are people who died to protect us,” she said. “It’s why we get to live the life that we live.”
Riding in historic military vehicles, including 1940s era Jeeps, were more veterans, including Clifford Dunaway Sr. Dunaway, who was on the USS Atlanta when it sank during the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on Friday the 13th in November 1942.
The World War II veteran said there were 13 U.S. ships fighting against 34 Japanese, but “we didn’t know til we started shooting” how outnumbered the Americans forces were.
He said after the sinking of the Atlanta, he was picked up by a life raft.
Dunaway also recounted how one of his brothers contracted viral meningitis after he and about 75 others were vaccinated with contaminated shots during boot camp.
“Out of 75 boys, about 30-something of them died,” Dunaway said. “What happened to the rest of them, I don’t know. It’s not publicized.”
Dunaway said his brother did not die from the infection, but later became deaf in one ear because of it.
Dunaway, who lives in Morrow, is a cousin of former Mayor Bill Dunaway.
Another veteran, west Cobb native Robert Graves, drove a 1931 Ford Model A Coupe in the parade, and he and his wife, Melanie, said they were thankful for all veterans and their service. Graves’ family has a long history of serving in the military, he said.
“We covered every branch but the Coast Guard,” said Graves, a retired Marine.