The City of Decatur is known for its numerous festivals and events that attract thousands of visitors each year. Decatur owes its tradition of celebrations to a group of long-time residents, including Catherine Carter. Catherine remembers when “they rolled up the streets in the evening. There was no activity or event to go to in downtown Decatur.”
One Fourth of July, Catherine’s family piled into her husband’s pick-up truck, and went to Stone Mountain to enjoy the fireworks. They were overwhelmed by the dense crowds and by marijuana smoke that permeated the air. “When I got home I called a friend and asked her what she thought of the idea of having fireworks and a parade in Decatur. She thought it was terrific.”
“We didn’t know how to do a parade. I tried to think what we could use to make our parade successful. We knew someone who had horses and they agreed to let us use them if we cleaned up after them. So my children agreed to dress up like clowns and follow the horses. They scooped up the poop and dumped it into the little red wagon they dragged. Afterwards, we had a very meager fireworks display but everybody had a good time.” From that point in 1979 forward, the Fourth of July fireworks and parade continued.
By 1982, the “Discover Decatur Arts Committee” had formed and they launched their first Concert in the Square. Catherine recalls that they rounded up people who wanted to perform on a Sunday afternoon and set up chairs on the courthouse lawn. We had no money. We passed the hat, it filled up, and I took the proceeds to the bank on Monday morning. Of course it has changed a lot since then. In the beginning it was just folks in Decatur who wanted to support what we were doing. Now people come from all around. But it had to start somewhere and this is how we started. We just wanted some things to do and a way to bring people together. We did it and it was fun. Those were our Heydays.”