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Parade chugs its way through Lula

POSTED: May 29, 2008 5:01 a.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Holly Wade, with her grandfather, Wayne Turpin, looks down Main Street in Lula to see what's coming next during Saturday's Railroad Days parade.

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The 32nd annual Lula Railroad Days Festival kicked off Saturday morning with many local vendors and a bigger and longer parade.

The parade, which went down Main Street, lasted about an hour and featured a number of church floats, classic cars, local sports teams and local companies.

W.A. Jenkins, pastor at Whitehall Baptist Church, said he enjoyed watching the church floats and his favorite was the Main Street Gospel float. The float featured a church member portraying Jesus being whipped by another church member.

"I like paying homage to the other churches," Jenkins said.

Many churches, including Whitehall Baptist, Enon Baptist and Lula First Baptist, had luau themes to their floats with flowers, straw and fake palm trees.

Elise Longnecker of Grayson High School and her friend, Krysten Vanderhoef, both said they enjoyed seeing the classic cars.

"It’s (the parade) gotten better. They worked hard on it," Longnecker said.

Classic cars including a Ford Falcon and a 1929 Ford Model Sedan drove up Main Street along with horses pulling carriages and donkeys pulling buggies.

Terry Waldrep and wife Charlene, both of Gainesville, said the parade was "great" and they liked seeing the horses the best.

"It gets bigger every year," Terry Waldrep said of the parade. "It’s tradition. Big towns tend to lose their tradition and people here just want to keep it going."

As the parade came to an end, the crowd crossed the railroad tracks to enjoy the other festivities that are a part of Railroad Days.

Sale booths, information tables and food stands were set up in Lula Railroad Park as live music and performances took place on stage. Shopping ranged from unique purses from "The Bag Lady," Sharon Hogan, to fresh fruits and vegetables from Jaemor Farms.

Glen Vitzoski of Glen’s Inflatables displayed a number of his inflatable toys for sale.

"Everybody’s a winner!" Vitzoski yelled out as he stood next to his rubber duck pond. Rubber ducks were $3 and had a number written on them, each representing a prize of a different inflatable toy.

Jewelry, sunglasses, clothing, samurai swords and toys were also for sale. Wayne Phillips of Wayne’s Train, brought his trackless train "The Dahlonega" to give rides to families.

"This is a lot of fun," Phillips said about Railroad Days. "I feel right at home here. The people of Lula are really wonderful."

And what would a festival be without a dunk tank? Miles Carroll, a senior at East Hall High School, volunteered to be the dunkee in the Lula Baptist Church dunk tank, but regretted it after his first dip in the cold water.

"It’s like jumping in the Arctic," Carroll said.

Carroll did not give up the position though. "Until I prune up and turn into an icicle, I’ll be here," he said.

Tasty fair food also was also a big hit at the event with homemade ice cream, funnel cakes, and the traditional hot dogs and hamburgers for sale.

Nita Minor, a volunteer for the Downtown Development of Lula, worked the city of Lula booth to show visitors expansion ideas for the small town.

Even with changes in the works, Minor said that events like Railroad Days will always be around.

"It’s tradition. It’s important to people. In earlier days they added things to help community, now we have to show what it means to be apart of a small town," Minor said.


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