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Helen throws a birthday bash in a tube
River parade marks towns centennial celebration
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Helen’s tubing businesses enjoyed a booming Labor Day weekend crowd on Saturday, seen here just downstream from the Main Street bridge. - photo by NAT GURLEY

HELEN — Few pastimes are more popular in North Georgia than tubing down the Chattahoochee River.

So the city of Helen, as part of its centennial celebration, brought back a tradition of the past Saturday but with a new name: The Helen Centennial Tubing Parade.

Popular businesses, clubs and government officials took part in the event, including the Helen Welcome Center, Helen Waterpark, Innsbruck Resort and Golf Club and more.

There were no races, nor first-place prizes on the line for those creating the best-looking tube — only people having fun while floating down the river.

The parade of tubes started at Riverbend Motel and Cabins on one side of Main Street and ended on the other side at the Festhalle.

Judy Holloway, city commissioner and owner of the store Classics in Helen, led the parade downriver in the city commissioners’ float.

Along with two others, she released balloons and carried the city’s flag as they ushered the rest of the tube floats down the river.

“We had a very good turnout,” Holloway said. “Both banks of the river were covered with people, as well as the bridge by the FestHalle.

“It (tube parade) stopped for a while. This is the first year we have brought it back. We hope now every year it will continue to grow and people will get excited about it and make these elaborate tube floats.”

For the Faschingsverein Helen club, Saturday was a chance to come together as a club and community and celebrate the history of the city.

“It was a great time,” said Tim Bramlett, a member of the club. “A lot of people (were) participating and people standing on the bridges watching (the parade). It was great to see.”

Bramlett said his group is a traditional German club that fits in with the town’s Bavarian theme, and its members do what they can to help promote the city and its events.

“The club has been around forever, so it was great for us to get together and participate,” he said.

Innsbruck team members created a makeshift golf cart around their tube, and even brought along one of the course’s pins to wave as they went down the river.

Helen Welcome Center manager Connie Disher manned her company’s tube by herself. Her float included a big heart on the back of the tube that said “We love our visitors.”

Disher said the good weather for the holiday weekend helped create a good turnout for the event.

“This is the first good holiday weekend,” she said. “We had a really good turnout for (it) being the first one (tube parade) in years. ... I’d say it went well, everybody enjoyed it.”

Disher also said another aspect to the parade was the influx of the regular tubers who weren’t part of the parade, but were there to enjoy the day regardless.

She said all the parade tubes tried to stay together.

“With the 100-year celebration, they (the city) were trying to bring back some of the things back from the past,” Disher said. “So, why not do it?

“There were no best floats. It was for the fun.”

The centennial celebration continues next Saturday with a street dance. For more information about the centennial celebration and other events in Helen, visit