Thousands turn out for Dacula parade

DACULA - Thousands of people lined the streets of downtown Dacula on Monday, waving miniature American flags and cheering as veterans, politicians, beauty queens and boy scouts passed by.

Snellville resident Jessie Parker said she was glad to see such patriotic support on Memorial Day.

"So many places are seeing this die," said Parker, who has come to see the parade for at least 10 years.

The parade was founded 14 years ago by Marvin Atherton, who said he was "trying to put Memorial Day back into Memorial Day."

For many, this weekend marks the beginning of a summer season filled with trips to the pool, picnics and barbecues, but no one would have this freedom if it weren't for the veterans who fought for such liberty, Atherton said.

"I want to instill what Memorial Day is, even if it's just for a couple of hours," said Atherton, who says he is not a veteran but a citizen trying to do his part.

Dacula resident Arvine Brown said he honors Memorial Day by calling his uncle, a veteran of the Korean War, and watching coverage of national events on television.

For the second year in a row, Brown and his family were at the parade. This year, his 5-year-old daughter, Lindsay, was in the parade, riding on the TaVaci School of Performing Arts' float.

"It's interesting, exciting and refreshing," Brown said of the parade.

Brown's 4-year-old son, Pierce, enjoyed picking up candy thrown from the floats and putting it in his father's pockets. He said he also enjoyed watching the parade.

"I like the cars," he said.

Pierce had plenty of cars to see, as several convertibles, sport-utility vehicles, pickup trucks, antique Ford Model Ts and Mustangs, military vehicles and tractors passed by.

There were about 90 entries in the parade this year, Atherton said.

Dacula resident Joyce Looney said she enjoyed the variety of entries.

"I've always loved parades all my life," Looney said. "It's just Americana. The band, military, antique cars, tractors - you don't get to see them anywhere anymore."