For 158 years, hundreds of residents and visitors gather in Upson County annually in remembrance and celebration of President Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation. The 2023 Emancipation Proclamation Celebration parade and festival will be held on Saturday, May 27, starting at 11 a.m.
The theme for the 2023 celebration is “Our Strength Lies in Unity.”
The parade check-in begins at 9 a.m. in the former Thomaston Mills parking lot at 900 North Hightower Street in Thomaston. ATVs, go-carts, golf carts, show cars, and motorcycles will enter through Entrance One; churches, businesses, floats, bands, and dance lines will check into Entrance Two; walking groups and bicycles will check into Entrance Three; horses will check into Entrance Four. Lineup begins at 10 a.m.
At 11 a.m., the parade will follow its traditional route down North Bethel Street toward East Main Street, turning left onto South Church Street, onto Zorn Street, and ending at The Speaking Grounds on Martin Luther King Drive in Lincoln Park, where a festival and celebration will be held from 1-7 p.m.
Evangelist Sandra Trice will be the keynote speaker this year, joined by a live band and other performances throughout the day.
Organizers ask that all ATV, go-cart, and golf cart drivers, as well as horse riders, note that they will be escorted back to the lineup parking lot after the parade passes through downtown Thomaston.
Thomaston is famous for its Emancipation Celebration, held on or around May 29 annually. May 29 is the recorded date when slaves of Upson County were taken to town and told they were free, according to organizers of the Emancipation Celebration Committee of Upson.
On May 29, 1866, William Guildford organized the first celebration.
The Speaking Grounds is located at 235 Martin Luther King Drive in Thomaston.
The Emancipation Committee of Upson will also hold its first annual Heritage Awards Banquet on Monday, May 29, at 5 p.m. at Xchelon Event Center, located at 308 North Center Street in Thomaston. Tickets are $20.
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