ELLIJAY, Ga. – The crowds have returned and celebrations were in full swing in Ellijay, Georgia, where the Fourth of July concluded with good feelings among those putting on the event.
Partnered with the city of Ellijay and the Gilmer Chamber, the Downtown Ellijay Business and Community Association (DEBCA) hosted the Fourth of July celebrations with full returns to classic events and vendors in the downtown parking lot. Tourists and Citizens alike strolled the streets of Downtown Ellijay while listening to music, shopping, and playing games in the area while waiting for the evening to fall.
At 6 p.m., 34 separate groups joined into the annual 4th of July parade up River Street, around the square, and down North Main Street with Steve Dusek as the MC announcing the groups and their floats.
This years winners of the parade float contest went to Bradburn Towing for First Place in the commercial category and the Robbie Lit Band for First Place in community individuals. Robbie Lit also shared their float with the Gilmer County Animal Shelter.
“I felt like we had broken out of COVID cover,” said DEBCA President Pam Burns as she spoke on the large crowd and the festivities. She called it a “really good day” for both Ellijay and Gilmer as she heard reports from visitors to the area, vendors in the celebration, and those who stayed to watch the fireworks that the City of Ellijay hosted. She also noted that the parade’s judges were also visitors to our county.
Burns also was a part of last year’s celebrations and noted a distinct increase in the number of people who were involved in the parade and those watching in the streets. Even the parking lot only had enough room for one or two more vendors.
The day saw the return of many usual faces from the community as well as new faces making their splash in the area. From the in-costume reading of the Declaration of Independence to two live renditions of the National Anthem, the day held more than just vendors and parades during its events.
The city also got to meet Dane Spilberg, the first winner of Gumdrop’s Golden Ticket Contest. As the first winner, Spilberg received the Key to the City and was hailed as Grand Marshall alongside Seth Teagarden of the Gumdrop Fun Shop, on River Street, who played Willy Wonka for the parade. Spilberg received the Kay to the City from Ellijay Mayor Al Hoyle who presented the key just before the start of the parade.
Burns said it was the special efforts of people like Hoyle and volunteers like Mona Lowe and Steve Dusek who helped to make the day a truly special event. DEBCA also hosts other holiday parades downtown, such as the Light Up Ellijay Christmas Parade. Alongside volunteers, these events are brought together. But DEBCA still needs more, according to Burns. She said that at least 20 people could make the events go much smoother and easier. She compared the Fourth of July saying that DEBCA itself hosted five volunteers running throughout the day.
And running through the day herself, making sure everything progressed as normal, it wasn’t until late that evening that Burns said she received her own special moment of the day.
Walking through the downtown area, Burns said she saw people everywhere, on sidewalks, in yards and fields, eating at tables, and all getting ready for the soon to launch fireworks display. It was then, Burns said, that she was overcome with the people and the day. “This is a sense of community,” she said.
It is the driving force behind a community celebration, it is also the driving force behind Burns and DEBCA as she stressed both the business and community sides of the association.