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Detention center warden sings Georgia fight song for good cause

POSTED: May 31, 2013 12:29 a.m.

Detention center warden sings for a good cause

Nat Gurley/The Times

Warden Charlie Peterson sings University of Georgia fight song from the roof of the North Georgia Detention Center after center employees raised more than $3,000 for 2013 Relay for Life. Peterson, an unrepentant University of Alabama fan who donned UGA attire for the occasion, began his singing career at 5 a.m. and sang each hour, on the hour, until 2 p.m.

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Decked out in University of Georgia garb, Charlie Peterson suffered a moment of weakness at the tail end of his brief stint as a UGA fan.

“Rooo-oooll Tide!” he proclaimed, the picture of Bulldog pride, head to toe in UGA gear. “Gooo-oooo Dogs!” he corrected.

“I’ve been out on this roof for awhile, I’m getting a little delirious,” he claimed to stern onlookers.

Peterson, the North Georgia Detention Center warden, sang the Georgia fight song on top of the detention center on Thursday every hour on the hour from early in the morning until 2 p.m.

It was a deal he made, being an Alabama fan, to raise money for Relay for Life.

“We always participated in Relay for Life, March of Dimes, different events in town. I wanted to generate some more enthusiasm when I came in as the warden in January, and try to do something to get them to raise more money,” he said.

He said the employees usually raise from $600 to $1,000 dollars.

“I challenged them — $3,000 dollars and 30 people registered for Relay for Life, I would be on the roof,” he said.

Peterson gave them until May 25 to raise the $3,000 and 30 registrants; They made the $3,000 mark by the end of February.

“I didn’t think they would do it! I really didn’t think they would do it,” he said, with a look of sincere bemusement at the feat.

Except for his momentary confusion, Peterson was a good sport for the vast majority of the day.

After fumbling the second verse to the fight song in the morning, he appeared to have it down by the afternoon, reciting the words with ease.

“Just one more minute,” his secretary Bonnie Abernathy called to him at 1:59 p.m.

“One minute? That’s a long time,” he shot back.

“The great state of Alabama will be proud of you,” an employee said while walking under the awning.

“I don’t know. I may not be able to come back,” Peterson replied.

Peterson went to school at Alabama State, but is a lifelong fan of the Crimson Tide.

“When you’re born in Montgomery, you’ll either be an Auburn fan or an Alabama fan, and I’ve been an Alabama fan all my life,” he said.

And there was no shame in indulging fans of his SEC rival when it was for a good cause, he said.

“I actually believe I’m the winner, because I raised $3,000 for charity. I had a lot of fun on the roof,” he said.

All of the Georgia paraphernalia he had acquired was donated and raffled off to go toward fundraising as well.

Being a Georgia resident, he said, he’s been harassed about his sports affiliation in the past.

“I’ve had a lot of people try to convert me,” he said.

But those preaching for conversion will get only the one day.

Peterson didn’t hesitate to proclaim what shade of red he’d be wearing for casual Friday.

“Everything I have on but my pants tomorrow will be ‘Roll Tide,’” he said.


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