Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Lawyer Philip Catalano of Cruser & Mitchell LLP falls into the water after getting dunked in a dunk tank during the Peachtree Corners Festival which kicked off the celebration of becoming a new city in Peachtree Corners on Saturday. The money raised during the dunk tank benefited the Norcross Cooperative Ministry's food pantry.
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PEACHTREE CORNERS -- As new Mayor Mike Mason browsed among residents and vendors on Saturday, he spoke of the celebration and dawning of a new city. And as the hot sun and triple-digit heat descended on the crowds like a blast furnace, Mason stopped almost in mid-sentence.
"Have you tried the fresh-squeezed lemonade?" he said, pointing up the hill as he took a sip. "It is really good."
The lemonade, ice cream, other refreshing treats and old-fashioned fans were often the most popular items at the Peachtree Corners Festival. But what brought everyone out was the start of something new. For some residents, they had to remind themselves of their new town.
"I feel like a pioneer," said Mario Zaino, a vendor and owner of La Nonna's Italian Restaurant, just down the street from the festival, which was at The Corners Parkway and Woodhill Drive. "To be one of the first citizens of Peachtree Corners is great."
Mason said it's a celebration simply because there is a city to have a festival about.
"When you walk down the street, what you see is a bunch of happy, smiling people," Mason said.
This is the second such festival for the city, as preparations for July 1's official start date have been underway for about a year. Last year's festival was such a hit, that Mason said some people wondered why it was limited to one day.
Along the way, there have been plenty of milestones, such as runoff elections for council members, and last week's adoption of a budget.
"The real work now begins," Mason said.
A member of the Peachtree Corners Festival Committee, Janice Crosby said the event was a long time coming, but there was no way to plan for temperatures to hit 106. Crosby said vendors seemed to be happy, and food and drink businesses reported brisk sales. She expected merchandise vendors to have a busier time on Sunday during the parade.
Resident David Drake came to the festival for the car show, which had an assortment of classic and sports cars. Drake said he didn't expect to notice a big change when the new city takes effect today.
"Right now, I'm enjoying the shade," he said.
A few steps from the cars was a dunking booth set up by the Atlanta law firm Cruser and Mitchell LLC, which sold tickets to the dunking booth to benefit the Norcross Cooperative Ministry food bank.
Philip Catalano, an attorney with the firm, wore a shirt and tie with shorts and was the victim of those who hit the red dot with a softball, which sent him into murky water.
Catalano said his firm was excited to support the new city, and looked forward to working with officials and residents. But he also enjoyed a little give-and-take heckling from festival-goers.
"I don't know why a lot of people with good arms seem to be aiming for me," Catalano said with a laugh. "Fortunately we're only using the best lake water available. The dirt came free. No charge."