A diverse crowd gathered at the courtyard by Cornelia's famous Big Red Apple and prepared for the city's annual Peace Walk on Sunday.
Participants greeted each other with hugs and laughter, so much so that organizer Iris Arias could hardly talk to one friend without being interrupted by the embrace of another.
"This is great; there's a whole lot of people," she said, moving through the crowd of about 250 participants.
Arias was there when the walk, organized by the Northeast Georgia Peace Council, began 26 years ago. The Peace Walk - which is free and open to everybody - is about dissolving differences, she said.
"Basically it's (the idea) that we are all one, we are all in this together, we cannot be separate," she said. "And these are all of my friends."
The Dream Weavers, an advocacy group for adults with disabilities, prepared to participate in its third Peace Walk. Christy Comes, 30, and Sonya Jaworksi, 37, both of Baldwin, each held a pole decorated with colorful yarn and a message of peace at the top.
"They as a group learn about their rights and support others' rights," advocate Denise Eller said.
"It's important to their cause, too."
The parade began with a speech by the Rev. Anne Nicely, quoting Martin Luther King Jr. Next participants lined up and turned right onto Main Street before continuing up Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
Wearing bright red skirts and carrying drums, the Women of Heart, a Native-American drumming and singing educational group, led the crowd.
Brandon Brock, 7, of Cornelia remembered seeing the group of women at his school, and helped keep the beat with a mallet on Donna Redfeather's drum.
"I play drums at the church," he said, adding that he preferred Redfeather's drum "‘cause it's louder."
Brock's church is Shady Grove Baptist Church, which led the parade with song.
Church member Lanai Dorsey, 14, of Cornelia sang along to gospel hymns such as "Down by Riverside" and "This Little Light of Mine." She participates in the Peace Walk every year, demonstrating her gratitude for the efforts of those who fought for peace and human equality.
"It shows that you don't just sit at home and that you appreciate Martin Luther King Jr. and what he did," she said.
The parade ended at Shady Grove Baptist Church, where participants would listen to a multi-faith program of speech, song and prayer.
Coordinator Julianne Wilson of the Northeast Georgia Peace Council wanted participants to feel that peace extends beyond a parade or a national holiday.
"My hope is that everyone will take a way a sense of empowerment," she said, "that peace is an every day thing."