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Communities celebrate Fourth of July with unique events
Charles Nunnally prepares his John Deer Gator for the Lanier Forest Park community annual Fourth of July parade that will happen on Saturday in the neighborhood off Dawsonville Highway. The parade features about 30 golf carts and four-wheeled utility vehicles decorated in patriotic fashion.
Fourth of July events
  • Independence Day Celebration, Dawsonville. Relay races, patriotic crafts and watermelon seed-spitting contest. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, Amicalola Falls State Park and Lodge, 418 Amicalola Falls Lodge Road, Dawsonville. $5 parking.
  • Patriotic Picnic Pops concert, Gainesville. Gainesville Symphony Orchestra with Shawn Megorden. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Brenau University Amphitheater, Prior Street, Gainesville. $30 adults, $27 seniors, $12 students. Add $50 per table of eight. 770-532-5727.
  • American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 fireworks display, Gainesville. Day of activities capped off by fireworks at dusk. Gates open at noon Sunday, Laurel Park, 3100 Old Cleveland Highway, Gainesville. $5 parking per car; concessions available for sale.
  • Dawson Day Sparks in the Park Independence Day Celebration, Dawsonville. Inflatable slides, dunk tank, rock wall, face painting, carnival food for sale and fireworks. Saturday, with gates opening at 5 p.m. and fireworks at dark. Rock Creek Park, 445 Martin Road, Dawsonville. Free admission and parking; various costs for activities and food.
  • Fourth of July Fireworks, Braselton. Dusk Sunday, Chateau Elan Winery, 100 Tour De France, Braselton. Free. 800-233-9463.
  • Fourth of July Family Celebration, Dahlonega. Pet show, ceremony, reading of the U.S. Constitution, watermelon cutting, car show, live music, parade and fireworks. Sunday, with parade at 5 p.m., fireworks at dusk. North Georgia College & State University, 82 College Circle, Dahlonega. Free.
  • July Fourth Mountain Style, Helen. Watermelon eating contest, sack races, live music and a hoedown. 8 p.m. Friday through 9 p.m. Sunday, Unicoi State Park and Lodge, 1788 Ga. 356 N, Helen. $5 parking.
  • Celebrate Braselton Festival, Braselton. Annual festival with live music, children’s activities, a parade and booths. 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, downtown Braselton. Free.
  • Mall of Georgia’s Fabulous Fourth, Buford. Live music, kids activities, fireworks and movie. Sunday, with live music from 2-9 p.m. and fireworks at dark. Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Drive, Buford. Free.

Golf carts, streamers and good old-fashioned fun define the Fourth of July for one lakeside community.

Residents of Lanier Forest Park neighborhood off Dawsonville Highway are getting ready for their annual Independence Day parade — a small gathering of friends and family that has persisted and grown even as professional fireworks displays draw hundreds.

“It’s just kind of a fun thing to get together and socialize,” resident Deborah Hall said. “Our neighborhood is just so close knit, and we just have a lot of fun. We know each other, and we’re there for each other.”

The parade, which is in its fourth year, features golf carts, four wheelers, bicycles and motorcycles — basically any vehicle a resident wants to bring. Residents decorate their “floats” with patriotic streamers, flags and lots of red, white and blue.

This year, neighbors will gather at 9 A.M. Saturday to line up and get ready. The procession begins at 10 a.m.

Charles Nunnally, who has lived on the lake since 1968, will be the parade’s marshal, and he said he’s honored to hold that title.

“It’s just a privilege to be able to represent the people in our neighborhood and the freedom that we have,” said Nunnally, a Korean War veteran. “That’s what we were fighting for over there.”

And he said small, neighborhood gatherings are rare in this day and age.

“We’re from the old school where neighbors help neighbors,” Nunnally said. “It’s just a great neighborhood to be in. We help each other when we have ice storms, etc. It’s just a great place to be.”

Larger communities in the area also host their own events for the Fourth, fostering fun and giving residents a chance to get out and meet their neighbors.

Sterling on the Lake will hold its annual fireworks celebration Saturday night. The event begins at 6 p.m. and is open to residents and guests, though guests must pay a $5 parking fee.

“It definitely builds community camaraderie, and it just brings friends and family together,” said Jennifer Landers, marketing director for Newland Communities, which operates Sterling on the Lake.

There are fireworks at dusk, face painting, balloon artists, pizza and ice cream. Between 600 and 800 people are expected to come out for the evening.

“Our goal is to have a sense of community and activity,” Landers said. “We want lots of activity going on.”

But Dee Williams of Lanier Forest Park said she appreciates the atmosphere of her neighborhood’s old-fashioned, no-frills, community gathering.

“We’re just trying to be a little more community oriented and get to know everybody,” Williams said. “You’ve got to have your friends and your neighbors. You’ve got to bond and get to know each other and have that support.”