Fourth of July: Downtown Newnan comes alive with patriotic colors
From Staff Reports
There was plenty of red, white and blue as Main Street Newnan’s 2012 Independence Day parade rolled through town Wednesday, celebrating America’s birthday.
Escorted by a contingent of motorcyclists, the local American Legion handed out hundreds of small American flags to help parade watchers celebrate. Throughout the parade, watchers and participants alike were waving and calling wishes of “Happy Fourth.”
The parade stepped off at the appointed hour of 6 p.m., despite a few rumbles of thunder from some nearby storms. At the time of the parade, the eastern part of Coweta County around Senoia near Peachtree City was under a weather watch as a storm with lightning moved through the area.
(To view photos from the Newnan Parade, visit http://photos.times-herald.com/mycapture and click on Events / Newnan for the Photo Gallery.)
Grand marshals for Newnan’s Fourth of July parade rode in two convertibles. This year’s honorees were four World War II veterans — Ed Bean, Aubrey Burnette, Eugene Cook and Roy Pitts.
Bean served in the U.S. Navy on the USS New Jersey Battleship in the Pacific Fleet Task Force 58 as a 20-mm gunner.
Burnette served in the U.S. Army Air Corp as a ball turret gunner and was a prisoner of war in Stalag 17B in Krems, Austria, for 13 months.
Cook served in the U.S. Army - 101st AB Paratrooper. He was a member of the 101st Airborne division, 506th Able and Baker Co., the same group that was made famous by the HBO special “Band of Brothers.” Cook parachuted into Normandy as part of Operation Overlord.
Pitts was one of the few Americans who personally witnessed the aftermath of the atomic bombs that hit Hiroshima and Nagasaki. His ship, the Biloxi, was also used as transport for rescued American POWs.
“We thought long and hard about who should be honored this year when deciding on a theme and who would be asked to lead the parade as grand marshals. No one deserves to be recognized more than those that are currently serving and have served in the past,” said JoAnn Gentry, Main Street Newnan manager. “This year we are recognizing four of our county’s veterans who have served their country and fought valiantly for our freedom. Our hats are off to them for their sacrifice.”
From local community groups and businesses to a contingent of candidates hoping for votes in the July 31 primaries, there were plenty of colorful parade entries — many handing out candy, brochures and souvenirs.
Royal Baptist Church had its traditional contingent of colorful banners — and plenty of ice-cold water for thirsty onlookers.
Groups from the Friends of Chattahoochee Bend State Park and the local square dance club Rebel Reelers were just some of the parade participants.
The parade began at 6 p.m. near the Veterans Memorial Plaza at Temple Avenue and Jackson Street and continued through the Court Square and out LaGrange Street, leading to Newnan High School for the Rotary Club festivities at Drake Stadium where fireworks were planned at dusk. Parade watchers lined the route downtown, as well as the sidewalks and yards along LaGrange Street leading to the high school.