Suwanee Day: Grand marshals, Smithereens to entertain

SUWANEE -- For the second time in three years, an Olympian will be a grand marshal in the Suwanee Day parade.

This time it's thanks to Cris Koenigs, the entertainment chair on the Suwanee Day committee, who has a son who swims at Swim Atlanta, the same facility where Brookwood High graduate and Suwanee resident Amanda Weir trains. Weir recently won a bronze medal at the London Olympics and is the first Olympian to be in the Suwanee Day parade since Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 2009.

Koenigs said she knew Weir would be open to participating because she's made appearances at her son's elementary school.

"I truly believe that Amanda and Swim Atlanta are very much a part of this community," Koenigs said. "She recognizes that, and wants to give."

Weir and reigning Miss Georgia Leighton Jordan, another Suwanee resident, will serve as grand marshals in the parade. Jordan will compete in the Miss America pageant in January in Las Vegas. Jordan who won a $15,000 scholarship and whose talent in the competition was ballet, had planned to attend Georgia State University, but now she's focused on the Miss America pageant.

"What a neat thing for girls in our city to see," Suwanee events coordinator Amy Doherty said. "Here's a pretty girl who's now representing our city as Miss Georgia, and here's an athlete who's trained all of her life and now been in two Olympics. It's the power of putting your mind to do some great things."

While Weir and Jordan will help begin the festival in the morning, the headline entertainment will be New Jersey rock band The Smithereens. The Smithereens, which had success mainly in the 1980s, are known for top 20 hits "Blood and Roses," "Only a Memory" and "House We Used to Live In."

Doherty said festival organizers typically book the Suwanee Day headliner the same time they get the band for the August concert, which was Vertical Horizon this year. So Doherty said organizers don't want competing events that might cause crowds to come specifically for the band, and leave the arts and crafts festival. And they don't want to compete with the August show, either.

"While that evening concert is a nice way to end the day, it's also an arts and crafts show," Doherty said. "We like to do bands that people enjoyed. They don't necessarily have to be an up-and-coming band. It's probably going to be somebody you listened to in high school or college. The nice thing about that is they're feel-good bands. (People might say) 'I remember when I heard that song.'"