Patriotic events take center stage in downtown Cartersville
by Marie Nesmith
Jun 22, 2014 | 3043 views | 0 0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print
As the July Fourth holiday draws near, downtown Cartersville will play host to several patriotic offerings.

Along with the Public Reading of the Declaration of Independence July 1, other events will include the Bartow Winds Community Concert Band’s “Celebration of Independence” performance July 3 and Stars, Stripes & Cartersville July 4.

@Bodycopy center bold:<*p(0,0,0,11.2,0,0,g(P,S))>Public Reading of the Declaration of Independence

Prior to downtown Cartersville overflowing with patriotic music and parade spectators, Bartow County’s legal community invites the public to focus on the historical aspect of the July Fourth holiday. To be sponsored by the Bartow County Bar Association, the Office of the Public Defender and the Office of the District Attorney, the third annual Public Reading of the Declaration of Independence will be presented July 1 at 12:15 p.m. outside the 1903 Gold-Domed Courthouse.

For Derek Gross, who will graduate from John Marshall Law School in 2015, being one of last year’s readers, was a memorable experience.

“I completed my first year of law school and spent that summer shadowing Judge D. Scott Smith in the Bartow Superior Court,” Gross said. “ ... I wanted to participate in the event because it was patriotic and it is interesting to reflect on the history of this country. You can always learn something new and it was a lot of fun too.

“... Whether you are an attorney or a judge, it is important to understand the importance of freedom and what this country stands for. For the families of the service men and women who have sacrificed their lives and the loved ones who are at home worrying about their loved ones that are still overseas, there is an immeasurable cost Americans have paid for the protection provided in the laws of this great nation. The history of the law in this country is reflected in those documents. It shows the struggle the founders were fighting to establish this great nation.”

While many representatives of Bartow’s legal community will attend the event, about 25 judges and lawyers will read segments of the Declaration of Independence. Cartersville’s initial event two years ago stemmed from the Georgia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ efforts to organize a reading in every county in Georgia. Though some gatherings only featured criminal defense lawyers, Cartersville’s presentation, which was spearheaded by GACDL officer Kelley Dial, welcomed all local attorneys and judges.

According to, “Drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776, the Declaration of Independence is at once the nation’s most cherished symbol of liberty and Jefferson’s most enduring monument. Here, in exalted and unforgettable phrases, Jefferson expressed the convictions in the minds and hearts of the American people. The political philosophy of the Declaration was not new; its ideals of individual liberty had already been expressed by John Locke and the Continental philosophers. What Jefferson did was to summarize this philosophy in ‘self-evident truths’ and set forth a list of grievances against the King in order to justify before the world the breaking of ties between the colonies and the mother country.”

Dial said the Declaration of Independence, which the Continental Congress adopted on July 4, 1776, will take about 20 minutes to read.

“I think it’s interesting to read [the Declaration of Independence] publically because a lot of people don’t realize all that’s in it,” said Dial, who also is the chief assistant public defender with the Bartow County Public Defender’s Office. “And when you get into the meat of it, it’s not necessarily always a politically correct document either. There are some sections you don’t want to read quite as loudly as the others. But [it does have] ... historical value. It started our country and we think [this reading is] a good way to present that to the public.

“... I love the fact that we’re all there doing the same thing with one common purpose. Oftentimes, when you get a bunch of lawyers [together], we’re either in court or it’s just a Bar meeting where we’re just doing some business or socializing, but I think this is one of the few things we actually do where we are performing a service and most everybody that’s available is there doing it. Particularly the first year, I was just astounded at the crowd. We weren’t sure — we thought we might just be standing [on] the courthouse steps just reading it to ourselves, but there was a huge crowd that year.”

Open to the public, area residents are invited to attend the presentation, which will take place on the Erwin Street side of the old courthouse, 115 W. Cherokee Ave. in Cartersville. More information about the event can be found on its Facebook page “3rd Annual Reading of the Declaration of Independence — Bartow County.”

‘Celebration of Independence’

Presented at Friendship Plaza, beside the downtown train depot, “Celebration of Independence” on July 3 will open with a performance by Old Mill Road Band at 6:30 p.m., followed by the Bartow Winds Community Concert Band at 7 p.m.

While the event’s admission will be free, donations will be accepted to support the local charities.

According to, “Founded in Summer of 2009 by Mr. Michael Elzey, the Bartow Winds Concert Band (formerly the Bartow Wind Symphony) has quickly gained a reputation of presenting quality concerts that are enjoyed by people of all ages. Bartow Winds is currently made up of 60+ members ranging from high school students to older adults.

“... The Bartow Winds was founded on the principle of giving back to the community and they continue to do that today by donating all proceeds from each concert to numerous local charities in the north Georgia area. Past beneficiaries of Bartow Winds include Advocates for Children, the Etowah Education Foundation, and the local music programs of Bartow County, GA. We consistently strive for the raised awareness of how important music and the arts are to our community and for the betterment of the community.”

Stars, Stripes & Cartersville

Expected to draw thousands of attendees, the daylong festivities — a parade followed by activities at Dellinger Park — on July 4 will benefit the Cartersville Optimist Club’s outreach efforts.

“[These events are] supporting children’s activities and needs in the community. So that’s a major reason [for people to attend] and also ... just [to have] a great time,” said Optimist Club member Bruce Lindler, adding the organization supports various youth efforts, such as Advocates for Children’s Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter, scholarships, Special Olympics and Civic Youth Day.

The Metro Kia Fourth of July Parade — presented by WBHF radio and the Optimist Club — will begin and end at Tabernacle Baptist Church’s parking lot. After lining up at 7:30 a.m., the entrants will depart at 9 a.m., proceeding down Douglas Street, Church Street, Bartow Street, Main Street, Stonewall Street and back to Church Street and Douglas Street. The grand marshal for this year’s procession will be Ken Cook, chief meteorologist for FOX 5 Atlanta, and his wife, Susie.

“So far we have about 17 entries,” said Lee Burger, program director for WBHF. “As always, people wait till the last minute. We usually have about 40.

“... Rev. Louis Tonsmeire started the parade in 1976 when we were ... 200 years old then. [So] yes, it’s been a tradition and it’s a tradition for the families to come to the parade and then go down to Dellinger Park and enjoy the day.”

For more information or to obtain a parade application, individuals need to call Leslie Bronson with WBHF at 770-386-1450, visit or drop by the radio station at 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville. There will be a $40 fee for each entry, ranging from floats to bands.

After the parade, the Dellinger Park festivities at 100 Pine Grove Road, Cartersville, will begin at 10 a.m. and feature live entertainment, vendors and children’s activities. There also will be a complimentary concert with music provided by Peachtree Station from 8 to 9:30 p.m. A fireworks display will conclude the celebration at nightfall, courtesy of the Optimist Club, the city of Cartersville and Bartow County government. While the event will not feature any admission fees, there will be a $2 parking charge.

Additional information and a vendor application can be obtained at