The drumline from North Gwinnett's Bulldog Band got the crowd dancing as they beat out a strong cadence at the Suwanee Day Parade on Sept. 17.
For 10 years, Will Strother has been a vendor at the annual Suwanee Day Festival. Yet unlike many of the other vendors hoping to sell merchandise, Strother raises money for charity. This year, as he airbrushes temporary tattoos and paints faces, he is supporting Camp Sunshine: Programs for Children with Cancer.
"Suwanee Day is a great venue for me to give back to the community," Strother explains. "It brings people together from different backgrounds and allows them to have a good time."
In the past few years, Strother has also raised money for children who need kidney replacements as well as teens recently released from jail looking to start over. The 27th annual Suwanee Day gives Strother and many other visitors' chances to give back, kick back and reflect back.
Suwanee Day began in 1984; one year prior to the city getting it's first traffic signal. Since then the event has grown in size and scope as the anticipation for various vendors and performers have brought in new audiences every year.
On Saturday, Suwanee Day dawned on a chilly, fall morning at Suwanee Town Center Park. As the parade commenced at 10 a.m. the sun warmed the gathered crowds. The North Gwinnett Bulldog Band, Miss Georgia, numerous Boy Scouts troupes, and Collins Hill Dance Company were among the many parade participants. Veterans and soldiers from the United States Army received a long applause.
As the parade concluded traces of popcorn, funnel cakes, hot dogs, and homemade lemonade filled the air and visitors hustled to the concession stands.
Suwanee Day's main mission is to be "A Celebration of Community" and a source for building community pride. With over 200 booths set up, inflatable playgrounds, and arts and crafts vendors, thousands of visitors strolled the sidewalks and spent time with their family.
First-time festival visitor Tara Cohron, a Buford resident, worked the Suwanee Sports Academy booth. Cohron was pleasantly surprised at the community turnout.
"I think (Suwanee Day) is a great taste of everything Suwanee has to offer. It's a great opportunity to spend time with your family on a beautiful fall day," Cohron said.
After being planned and organized by a designated festival committee since January, Suwanee Day is run by over 250 volunteers. Intensely involved in the preparations for Suwanee Day is Denise Brinson, Suwanee's Economic Development Director. Brinson's daughter acted as Suwanee's mascot "Parker the Dog" for the parade.
"Suwanee Day is over 25 years old and every year people anticipate it and look forward to it. It's a chance for youth to volunteer and be a part of something bigger," Brinson said. "It is a great time for the community to celebrate."
For Strother and many other community residents the event presents opportunities to socialize, support, and spend time with family.
"I am a big believer in family and I think this gives the opportunity to bring the family together," Strother said.
Suwanee Day finished with a main stage performance by The Lovin' Spoonful at 8:15 p.m. and fireworks at 9:45 p.m.