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Sweet Land of Liberty parade to march through LaGrange on Thursday

The red-white-and blue bunting around Lafayette Square is a sure sign. It’s almost time for the Sweet Land of Liberty parade, a LaGrange tradition since 1985.

 This year’s 35th annual July 4th parade for youth will celebrate America’s birthday and honor parade grand marshals Debbie and Speer Burdette. Festivities begin at 10 a.m. on the square with Mayor Jim Thornton emceeing a short patriotic program. Local performers and winners of the Lady Liberty and Uncle Sam awards from the class of 2019 will take part. 

“We encourage community members to join us on the Square and along the downtown streets to honor the Burdettes and support the children and youth of Troup County as they display pride in their country,” said Lindsey Perkins, a Junior Service League board member and chairwoman of this year’s event. 

The parade begins immediately following the program, as proud young Americans set out on foot, in wagons, on bikes, scooters and other non-motorized vehicles from Sweetland Amphitheatre at Boyd Park, named for parade founders Annette and Jim Boyd. Participants should report to the park at 9 a.m.. Judging will be at 9:30 a.m. with more than $600 in prizes to be awarded for best entries on the theme “Bright Stars, Bold Stripes, Brave Hearts.” Local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will lead the parade as bearers of American flags. Fifth and sixth graders honored with “Pat on the Back” awards will march together. 

In a bow to tradition, the 2019 parade will mark the return of the “Nifty 50” with summer campers from West Georgia STAR and Boys & Girls Club carrying the state flags of all 50 U.S. states. The new flags were donated by sustaining members of LaGrange Junior Service League, the primary parade sponsor.

Other local groups partnering with JSL on the parade include Troup County Parks and Recreation Department, LaGrange-Troup Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Development Authority, Sweetland Amphitheater and LaGrange Rotary Club, which has provided marshals for all the parades. 

Participation in the parade is free and open to anyone 19 and under. Registration forms are available at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center on Lafayette Parkway or online at Jsloflagrange.org.