Dunwoody 4th of July Parade - 2022

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Reporter Newspapers SPECIAL SECTION | JULY 2022

Monday, July 4


Dunwoody Village

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Presenting sponsors: Dunwoody Homeowners Association and Reporter Newspapers

Dunwoody 4th of July Parade: Parade of Stars

Dunwoody High School

The parade route is 2.7 miles, stepping off from the intersection of Mt. Vernon Rd. and Jett Ferry Rd. at 9 a.m. It ends at Dunwoody Village. Parade route: dunwoodyga.org/parade-route JULY 2022 | 17



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2022 GRAND MARSHAL Pam Tallmadge This year’s parade theme is “Parade of Stars” and one of Dunwoody’s biggest stars is Pam Tallmadge. Pam co-chaired the Dunwoody parade for 16 years and grew it into the largest parade in Georgia. Not only is Pam a parade pro, she served on the Dunwoody City Council and is currently an advocate for education, volunteering in many capacities at Dunwoody High School and serving as the executive director for the Charter System Foundation. Pam also sings in the choir at Dunwoody United Methodist Church and has starred in many plays.


Attorney General of Georgia

Michael Thurmond DeKalb County CEO dunwoodyga.gov | 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Rd., Dunwoody GA 30338 | 678.382.6700

Robert Patrick

Dunwoody Precision Lawn Chair Drill Team

Tom Bass

Echo Hill Riders Mounted Color Guard

DeKalb County Commissioner Dunwoody High School Principal

July Highlights 12 1

“Black Panther” Pics in the Park


Dunwoody Fourth of July Parade



Pernoshal Park 9 p.m.


City Hall closed Dunwoody Art Commission Meeting

City Hall 6 p.m.

Groovin’ on the Green

“Sassfolk” Brook Run Park Amphitheater 6 - 9 p.m.

Public Hearing: Proposed Millage Rate Increase City Hall 8 a.m.

Dunwoody City Council Meeting City Hall 6 p.m.

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Miss Georgia Teen USA

Grayback Base U.S. Submarine Veterans

“Two Very Different Vietnam Combat Tours” Dunwoody Preservation Trust Donaldson-Bannister Farm 9:30 a.m.


Monthly Community Bike Ride


Dunwoody Development Authority Meeting


Dunwoody City Council Meeting


Meet at Village Burger 3:45 p.m.

City Hall 5 p.m.

City Hall 6 p.m.

Food Truck Thursdays every Thursday through Oct. 27 Brook Run Park

Dunwoody Farmers Market

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Spruill Gallery exhibit through September 3

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Board of Appeals 7 Zoning Meeting


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The parade starts promptly at 9 a.m. and continues down Mount Vernon to Dunwoody Village. The parade route is about 2 hours. The festival at Dunwoody Village starts after the parade and runs until about 1 p.m. reporternewspapers.com



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Eyeglasses Collection: Bring your used eyeglasses to the parade for recycling at the Georgia Lions Lighthouse Foundation. The Lions International Youth ambassadors and their host families will march with the Atlanta Lions Club and the Lighthouse Mobile Eye Clinic van. Look for the colorful flags of the world, as the students will be parading with their national flags and carrying eyeglass collection boxes.

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FOOD Boy Scout BBQ For more than 20 years, Troop 266 has sold BBQ at the end of the parade in Dunwoody Village. Tickets are $10 ahead of time and $12 at the door. The meal includes a Slope’s BBQ sandwich (pork or chicken), coleslaw, watermelon, chips, brownie and water/tea/ lemonade. You can order your meals online at troop266.us/parade-bbq-preorder.

Rotary Club hot dogs The Rotary Club of Dunwoody will operate a hot dog stand in the Dunwoody Village parking lot. It will open at 9 a.m. until the parade is over. The revenue helps fund community service projects. They will sell hot dogs, drinks, chips and homemade cookies.


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Charlie’s Army to honor Charlie Cronmiller, who passed away during a nap at a daycare in February 2021.









BY SAMMIE PURCELL At Dunwoody’s Fourth of July Parade this year, look for a group walking with a fire truck. That group is Charlie’s Army. Charlie’s Army is a nonprofit organization started by Stephanie and Eric Cronmiller last year, dedicated to providing young children a voice and empowering parents to make healthy decisions and create safe environments for their families. The Cronmillers started Charlie’s Army in memory of their four-month-old son Charlie, who passed away during a nap at a day-

care in February of 2021. According to a police report, Charlie was found facedown. Stephanie Cronmiller said the idea for Charlie’s Army came around almost immediately and helped her channel her grief over losing her son. “When we lost Charlie, I immediately bounced into, what can I do?” Cronmiller said. “Within a matter of a couple weeks, my husband and I knew we had to do something to continue to honor him, to keep him and his memory alive.” As soon as late February 2021, Cronmiller began researching nonprofits. By

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Stephanie and Eric Cronmiller, who started Charlie’s Army to honor their son’s memory and to advocate for infants and children.

that summer, Charlie’s Army was up and

they don’t like the way they’re being treat-


ed. So it’s really about empowering parents

“We wanted to be able to advocate for

– ensuring that they are equipped with the

children and infants who can’t talk yet,”

knowledge and tools to have their best in-

Cronmiller said. “They can’t come home

terests in mind.”

and tell you that something’s wrong or

A lot of what Charlie’s Army focuses on

is educating parents on the safest ways for infants to sleep and empowering often overwhelmed or tired parents and caregivers to create healthy and safe environments for children. The foundation partners with different companies like HALO, which provides sleep sacks and swaddles for infants, and Regal Lager’s swaddle brand Love to Dream, and uses those partnerships to help provide parents with swaddles and pamphlets on the “ABCs of Safe Sleep.” Charlie’s Army’s website lists out the ABCs of Safe Sleep, which stand for “Alone,” “Back is Best,” and “Clear the Space.” The ABCs state that the best way for infants to sleep is in a bassinet or crib, on their backs, and in a space clear of everything but a mattress and a sheet. According to Cronmiller, Charlie’s Army has donated multiple swaddles and pamphlets to new parents across the metro area. In one holiday campaign through a partnership with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Strong4Life team, the foundation received a list of clinics that see the most newborns and was able to raise enough money to buy and donate HALO swaddles to new parents at Harbin Clinic Pediatrics in Cartersville. The foundation also held a golf tournament last year at St. Ives Country Club in Johns Creek. Between sponsorships, donations and a silent auction, Charlie’s Army was able to raise about $130,000. The foundation plans to hold another golf tournament on Oct. 7. “Strong4Life has several pillars underneath it, and one of them is specific to Safe Sleep,” Cronmiller said of the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta initiative. “For that specific event, we chose to benefit the Safe Sleep program. They’re going to be the beneficiary of this year’s tournament as well.” When it comes to the Dunwoody Fourth of July parade, Cronmiller said she and her husband wanted to find a way to recognize



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the first responders who helped them that day. The Cronmillers live in Chamblee near the border of the two cities, but the daycare where Charlie passed away was located in Dunwoody. “A lot of our experience has been with the first responders of Dunwoody,” she said. “We have felt welcomed and embraced by the community of Dunwoody throughout all of this.” Cronmiller said she attended the 2021 parade and had a wonderful experience. “That’s our target audience,” she said. “It’s families and young children. We just wanted to be able to participate and recognize those first responders who were there for us that day.” Cronmiller said that the idea to walk with a fire truck came from a dream she had after Charlie passed away. She said in the dream, he was wearing a onesie that he often wore that was covered in fire trucks. She and her friends came to view that dream as a sign that Charlie was with her whenever she saw a fire truck in a strange place. All of a sudden, it seemed she and her friends were seeing fire trucks everywhere and began sharing pictures of them with each other. Cronmiller said she thought that walking with the fire truck would be a way to both honor those first responders and share that personal sentiment. The foundation is also expected to hold a giveaway on Instagram that day, donating a HALO bassinet to an expecting or new mother. “I think we’re going to walk behind, or in front of, or with the fire truck.” she said. “I’ve invited friends and family. If they have kids, they’ll be on tricycles or wagons that we’ll have decorated in stars and stripes.” You can learn more about Charlie’s Army at charliesarmy.org.


JULY 2022 | 21

Pam Tallmadge: Off the sidelines and into the spotlight BY CATHY COBBS

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Former Dunwoody councilperson and longtime parade coordinator Pam Tallmadge isn’t used to being in the spotlight, but on July 4, she will be front and center. Tallmadge, who co-chaired the Dunwoody Fourth of July parade for 16 years before retiring in 2021, will be this year’s grand marshal. The parade, which is the largest in Georgia, is co-sponsored by the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and Reporter Newspapers. DHA president Bob Fiscella said the organization is “tickled pink to honor Pam.” “It seems like Pam had a hand in everything,” Fiscella said. “We appreciate her time as a member of city council, but more so her nearly two decades as co-chair of the Dunwoody parade. It’s the largest Fourth of July parade in the state largely because of Pam’s tireless efforts.” Tallmadge, who served on the city council from 2015 to 2021, had been co-chair with a variety of partners since 2005. She recalled with fondness about how she was “tricked” into the leadership role. “I was with (longtime parade chair) Bill Robinson in the choir at Dunwoody Methodist Church, and he said, ‘Pam I’m not going to chair the parade anymore and I’d like you to be the parade chair.’ I said I didn’t want to be chair, but I would help,” she said. “Then the next week, I read in the newspaper that I was the new parade chair.” Despite the sleight of hand, Tallmadge embraced it wholly, serving for the next 16 years with a variety of co-chairs that included Laura Jester, Penny Forman, Jan Akers, and her now-successor, Matt Weber. She admits

this year’s festivities will be an unfamiliar experience. “It’s very strange not to have my hand on the steering wheel,” she said. “When they told me that I was going to be the grand marshal, I think it might have been the first time I’ve ever been speechless.” Longtime friend Dunwoody Mayor Lynn Deutsch said Tallmadge’s long reach into many areas of the community earned her the

honor of leading the procession. “Pam has impacted our community in so many positive ways. The schools, city council, Light Up Dunwoody, Dunwoody Methodist Church, and of course the parade, have all benefited from her time and talent,” Deutsch said. “While she didn’t start the parade, she certainly is the key to it becoming the largest parade in the state of Georgia.” Tallmadge said she has thousands of pleasant memories associated with the event, but one she recalls with profound sadness. “When we had to cancel the parade in 2020 because of the pandemic, I cried all throughout the day,” she said. “It was terrible. I felt so bad for Dunwoody.” Tallmadge, who now lives in Woodstock, said highlights during her tenure included appearances by military bands and soldiers, the Black Hawks military helicopters flying over the parade, and any appearance that involved horses. She does have one memory that stands above the rest – the three times that naturalization ceremonies were held as part of the parade after-party. “What a better day than the Fourth of July to be sworn in as a citizen of this great country,” she said. “Talk about tears – what a spectacular event.” The 2.7-mile parade route steps off from the intersection of Mount Vernon Road and Jett Ferry Road at 9 a.m., proceeds west on Mt. Vernon to Dunwoody Village, turns right onto Dunwoody Village Parkway, circles around the Parkway, and left into Dunwoody Village in between First Watch and Citizens Bank. reporternewspapers.com

From humble beginnings came Georgia’s largest parade BY CAROL NIEMI Dunwoody’s 4th of July parade is the largest Independence Day parade in Georgia. Except for 2020, when COVID canceled it, cheering fans have lined both sides of its 2.7mile route along Mt. Vernon Road every year for decades. In 2021, it attracted roughly 35,000 spectators from far and wide — all united as Americans to celebrate living in the freest country on the planet. Last year, we received an email from Steve Kroeger about the passing of his mother, Lois Kroeger, who with her husband, Harlan, had organized the very first Dunwoody 4th of July parade back in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial. A phone call with Steve revealed the parade’s surprisingly humble beginnings — a story worth knowing for those of us who love the parade. So what happened back then 46 years ago? For 1976, President Gerald Ford announced a national yearlong celebration to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Committees formed throughout the country to plan celebrations. After the political turmoil of the 1960s, Watergate and the Vietnam War, Americans were ready to celebrate. In the spring of 1976, the Dunwoody Woman’s Club (DWC) formed a committee led by Gerry Spruill to figure out how Dunwoody would celebrate the year. When someone suggested a 4th of July parade, DWC member Lois Kroeger eagerly volunteered to lead the effort, and she and her husband, Harlan, became the parade co-organizers. She was a retired Northwest Airlines flight attendant. He coowned a wholesale furniture company and traveled a lot. Neither had ever planned a parade, and neither had Dunwoody which was 32 years away from cityhood. Many thought it couldn’t be done. And the Kroegers had but a few months to make it happen. As Steve remembers, they immediately began recruiting neighbors, friends and family to help to recruit local businesses, churches and civic organizations to participate. What they lacked in experience, they made up for with enthusiasm. “My parents were very patriotic,” said Steve. “They were in high school during World War II, when everyone was united. They were raised to appreciate our freedoms and knew many people who had served and many casualties.”

“Enjoy Living”

The first parade had about 40 individuals in cars, a marching band of musicians from several high schools, a dance band called The Notables on a flatbed truck, swim team floats and clowns led by Steve’s sister, Katie. John Linder, a neighbor of the Kroegers in the Branches and a Georgia State House Representative (later a U.S. Congressman), recruited U.S. Senator Herman Talmadge to be grand marshal. “Sen. Talmadge was the old Georgia. Dunwoody was the new Georgia,” he said. Effie Carpenter, the oldest living Dunwoody resident, was the honorary grand marshal. “She rode in an air-conditioned car, the only VIP who didn’t ride in a convertible,”

VILLA PA L A Z Z O SENIOR LIVING COMMUNITY Lois Kroeger and her husband, Harlan, organized the very first Dunwoody 4th of July parade in 1976 to celebrate the U.S. Bicentennial.

said Steve. One near disaster occurred when the original Uncle Sam moved away at the last minute. Steve was drafted to take his place. His mother worked with a church friend to create the costume. “It was a hundred percent polyester,” he said. The DWC ran the parade for five years but stopped when it became too big for them to handle. It restarted under Bill Robinson and the Dunwoody Homeowners Association (DHA) in 1991. Pam Tallmadge took Robinson’s place in 2005. Dunwoody’s beloved parade has missed only one year since. The DHA is still the main sponsor — along with this newspaper.

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O W O N DY U D Monday, July 4, 2022 | 9 am Theme: Parade of Stars Grand Marshal: Pam Tallmadge Presented By

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For parade information and registration, go to www.dunwoodyga.org