Emancipation Proclamation parade, celebration set for Saturday
Thousands will line the streets of Thomaston Saturday in anticipation of the parade and festivities for the 142nd annual Emancipation Proclamation Day Celebration. Upson County holds the distinction of hosting the annual day-long event. It's the longest running emancipation celebration in the United States, and is expected to be well attended, said Kenneth Carter, this year's Emancipation Committee Chairman. "This is the biggest celebration held in Upson County, and we've been planning it for months," Carter said. "We're going to have a huge parade, all kinds of activities and many different types of food. Attendance has reached as high as 10,000 to 12,000 in the past." This year's event is likely to draw people from all over the state and perhaps, the nation. "A lot of people who previously lived here return to Upson County just for this event," he said. The keynote speaker will be Atlanta author Deborah Anderson. Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862. It declared that on Jan. 1, 1863, all slaves in the United States were "forever free." Word of the proclamation did not hit Thomaston until May 29, 1863, and the county has been celebrating each year since, "The celebration will begin with the parade at 11a.m.," said Committee Secretary Mary Searcy. "We're asking that all participants meet in the bleachery parking lot off of Cedar Row beforehand." The parade will wind through downtown Thomaston,until reaching the Lincoln Park playground. After opening ceremonies and welcomes, groups from across Georgia and surrounding counties will entertain revelers.