Record crowd shows for downtown Cherry Blossom events

Record crowd shows for downtown Cherry Blossom events

wcrenshaw@macon.comMarch 16, 2013 

For Saturday afternoon entertainment, it’s hard to beat watching an Air Force general sprint down the middle of Cherry Street in hot-pink high-heel boots.

That’s what a record crowd estimated at more than 3,000 witnessed during the first full day of the Cherry Blossom Festival.

The Cherry Street events began with the annual bed race, which the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department won in impressive fashion.

That was shortly followed by the high-heel race, in which men, women and children ran a city block in high-heel shoes to raise money for breast cancer research.

One of those participants was Brig. Gen. Cedric George, commander of the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex. He smoked retired Maj. Gen. Robert McMahon, his predecessor and now president of the 21st Century Partnership. McMahon raised $8,500 by challenging base officials and supporters to either run in the race or donate $100 to get out of it.

It’s not easy finding a pair of women’s boots to fit a man’s size 13 feet, but you don’t become a general without a can-do spirit. George even had the Robins Air Force Base emblem put on the side of the boots.

He claimed he hadn’t practiced in them but his wife leaned in and said he was running around the house in them that morning.

“It was a lot of fun and a good way to help the community,” George said.

While the high-heel race is a group sprint, the bed race is a time trial with each of the nine teams going one at a time. The two divisions are “Wild and Wacky,” in which teams go more for style than speed, and “Fast and Furious,” in which most of pushers look like Navy Seals.

The crowd probably didn’t need to hear the result to know the fire department’s team won the fast division. They pushed their bed down the street like a Jamaican bobsled team.

Although many of the teams said they had practiced little, if at all, the fire department’s team practiced about twice a week.

“Everything we do is competitive,” said Battalion Chief Nathaniel Hall, the team captain. “It’s just how we are geared.”

The day’s events began with a pancake breakfast at Central City Park. Cherry Blossom board member Lee Robinson said it was hard to put an estimate on the crowd, but it was a big one. The lines were long but moved fast, he said. “It was the biggest crowd I’ve seen in a long time,” he said.

Lydia Moss, the festival’s marketing director, said the crowd on Cherry Street was a record. She credited it to good weather. “Everything has been wonderful,” she said. “We just hope the weather stays this nice.”

Gusting winds in the evening had some impact on the Tunes and Balloons event at Middle Georgia State College. Although the winds died down some by dusk, only three of the hot-air balloons, with some struggle, were able to get up for the balloon glow. The tether rides were called off, but there was still a large crowd for the event, which included musical performances.

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