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Residents celebrate Fourth in all-American style

By Clay Wilson

If there really is a typical American small town, Jonesboro surely represented it Saturday morning.

The buzz of a lawnmower filled its little portion of the air. Residents sat on their porches and waved at passersby. Cars drove slowly along the side streets.

But adding to the feel of Americana on this particular day was the Fourth of July parade making its way down Main Street.

"I love it," said Linda Murray, who had a literal front-row seat near the railroad track through the middle of town. "A small-town parade, I enjoy the friendliness."

A resident of Columbia, Mo., Murray had come down for the Fourth to visit family, specifically David Brooks. Brooks' North McDonough Street house was just across the track from the spot he, Murray and other family members staked out to watch the parade.

"It's a good spot," said Brooks, who said he's been a regular parade-watcher for the 30 years he's lived in Jonesboro. "We see it every time, and it's always great," he said.

One of the floats in the parade belonged to the South Fulton Yaarab Temple. The "South Fulton Hillbillies" rode in a rebuilt 1935 pickup truck, complete with a replica moonshine still in the back.

"We go to most of the parades," said Louise Brannan, explaining why the South Fulton Shriners were in the Jonesboro parade. "We try to help out the small towns."

But Brannan, who said she's been participating in the Jonesboro parade for about 10 years, said this year's was "the longest parade we've had."

As the parade was winding down, the barbecue at the Jonesboro Masonic Lodge #87 was winding up. According to one lodge member, the barbecue has been an annual tradition for several decades.

Lodge member Glenn Siciliano said he's been participating in the tradition for 19 years. As he did last year, Siciliano manned a vat of brunswick stew about three feet in diameter, ladling out servings to the steady stream of picnickers.

"This stuff goes fast," he said. "You wouldn't think it, but we go through this in a heartbeat."

The Masons weren't the only ones serving up barbecue for the Fourth in the Southern Crescent. On Sunday, Community Bible Church served lunches catered from Shane's Rib Shack in its "Wild Side Sunday" celebration.

The event was part of pastor Beau Adams' "Animal Planet" sermon series, which features a different animal of the Bible each Sunday. This week's animal, in honor of the Fourth of July, was a bald eagle.

Adams spoke on Isaiah 40:31, which says that those who trust in God will soar like eagles. "A nation that puts its faith and hope and trust in the Lord, the Lord renews their strength," Adams said.

Besides the bald eagle provided by Georgia Southern University and other animals from local pet stores, the church encouraged people to bring their own pets to the event. Many of the approximately 2,000 who attended did so, and the field outside the church was dotted with bounding labradors, sedate collies and high-strung terriers.

"It was a shock, especially the number of dogs that were here," said Stockbridge resident Kristin Osterhout. She had brought her own tiny Jack Russell-Chihuahua mix puppy, which was wriggling around in excitement.

Osterhout said she had enjoyed the day of music, fun and fellowship.

"I think it's great for everybody to be able to get together," she said.