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Suwanee Day to experience some changes

SUWANEE -- In less than two weeks, the festival that begins with a parade featuring a homegrown pageant winner and an Olympian, and closes a performance from a popular rock band and fireworks display is arguably the biggest event of the year for a town that's known for events.

If you plan to take in two well-known celebrities at this year's Suwanee Day parade, note that the start time is earlier than in previous years.

Recent Olympian bronze medal-winning swimmer Amanda Weir and reigning Miss Georgia Leighton Jordan, both Suwanee residents, will serve as grand marshals for the parade, which will start at 9 a.m. on Sept. 15. The parade will follow the same route as in previous years, from Russell Street up Buford Highway by Town Center, and down Main Street to Scales Road.

A key change for men is a new area called "Man Land," which will have sofas, televisions and refreshments. Town Center Avenue will be closed, and city officials recommend off-site parking. There will be a free shuttle service.

This is the 29th year of Suwanee Day, and its designed to offer a fun atmosphere, shopping and community camaraderie.

The festival boasts 225 arts and crafts booths and 12 hours of entertainment on two stages.

New Jersey rock band The Smithereens, which saw top 40 success in the 1980s, will perform. The Smithereens are known for such top 20 hits "Blood and Roses," "Only a Memory" and "House We Used to Live In."

Cash prizes are available to those who best reflect the parade's theme, "Catch a Dream," with the creative and entertaining ideas. To participate in the parade, find applications at suwaneeday.com. The deadline to submit is on Wednesday.