As I reflect over this past weekend…Currahee Military Weekend 2016…the word that comes to mind is COMMUNITY!
As a few thousand people took part in the celebration it took the core of our community to make the experience great! The Stephens County Historical Society and Toccoa-Stephens County Chamber of Commerce, along with Main Street Toccoa teams worked for months in preparation for this annual event. The City of Toccoa and Stephens County teams worked tirelessly behind the scenes to make sure the details were handled and the first impressions for our visitors was a positive one! And the countless volunteers that poured out of the woodworks in support of the weekend full of activities was unbelievable!
Main Street Toccoa hosted the “The Story of Joe Beyrle, WWII” Thursday evening at the Historic Ritz Theatre to officially kick off the weekend! Followed by the Annual Chamber BBQ which was held again this year at the National Guard Armory Hall. The “cooking crew” headed up by Tommy Moon and Burt Holmes got started at the Elks Lodge and EMT BBQ pits before 5am to successfully cook 1000 chicken halves. I showed up with biscuits for the teams around 7am and they were all having a blast and getting the job done! The chicken was delivered to the armory by 9:30am. Where they were greeted by more volunteers to pack the 1000 boxes, then deliver 700 plates throughout the town and serve the remaining 300 in the Armory Hall. All well planned and a smooth operation by Melvia Lynn Dickinson, Ashley Sharpe and The Chicken Team of volunteers!
We then rolled right into the Annual USO Swing Dance at the Armory where we were joined by 325 wonderful friends and neighbors dressed in vintage attire all dancing the night away! The David Fry Band and The Freedom Belles provided our live entertainment. The Civil Air Patrol, VFW and Stephens County Middle School PTO all served up refreshments. Marilyn Hall was the Hostess and Organizer for the event and did a wonderful job again delivering a night of enjoyment and great memories. Leaving us all looking forward to next year!
We rose up early Saturday morning to the Currahee Challenge 5k and 10k up Currahee Mountain. The event was organized by Craig and Melvia Lynn Dickinson and hosted 250 runners who participated from all across the country. The weather cooperated this year and it was a perfect fall day in Georgia. We were welcomed by another group of early bird volunteers who helped with registration, water stations, refreshments and awards. We started the morning off with prayer and a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem sung by Shauna Fortson, which brought cause for reflection on the very reason we are able to gather freely because of all who have gone before us fighting for our freedom.
The day of celebration continued with a parade down Main Street and Opening Ceremonies hosted by our Historical Society. Toccoa was lined with visitors enjoying the WWII Reenactors, Veterans Book Signing, and Memorabilia Show. We gathered again that evening at the Armory Hall as the Historical Society hosted their Annual Veterans Banquet. The evening was full of acknowledgement and appreciation for those who trained here in WWII and for our Toccoa soldiers. 4-Star General David Petraeus was the Guest of Honor and spoke to a full room of patrons. It was a wonderful evening hosted by Lyn Hack and Brenda Carlan for the Stephens County Historical Society and all who pitched in to help.
We wrapped the 16th Annual Currahee Military Weekend with the Remembrance Service held at Camp Toccoa, Parachute Infantry Regimental Memorial, which was well attended as we paid tribute. In 1942, the U.S. Government acquired a site in Toccoa, Georgia, where a new type of soldier, the paratrooper, was trained. Some 18,000 soldiers of the 501 st , 506 th , 511 th and 517 th Parachute Infantry Regiment trained at Camp Toccoa during World War II. This is our history of which we are so proud!
This weekend we saw the fruit of the collaborative efforts of or City and County governments, the extensions of those entities, the Chamber of Commerce, the Historical Society, the businesses in our town and the residents all working together to promote Toccoa-Stephens County, all that we have to offer and the history that we hold so dear.