Dunwoody’s Lemonade Days. Here’s how it all began.

Lemonade Days opens April 24 and runs through April 28 at Brook Run Park. Before you go, take a minute to learn a bit about its history.

By Kathy Florence

This story first appeared in the Dunwoody Crier and in the Dunwoody Preservation Trust newsletter in April 2018 to recognized the 20th anniversary of the Dunwoody tornado.

First there was the wind. Then there were trees. And then lemonade. 

The F-2 tornado hit Dunwoody just after midnight. It was the week of Spring break for DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett county schools.

Twenty years later and that simple sequence has proven to define so much of our city — both in its resilience and profound capacity for pulling together in time of need, and for the spectacular and treasured community celebration we enjoy each April.

The wind came in the wee hours of April 9, 1998, in the form of a series of F-2 tornados that wreaked havoc through two states and then zenithed its force onto Dunwoody. The grim aftermath was wide-spread and paralyzing.

But not for long.

In a spectacular showdown of Mother Nature vs. human nature, Dunwoody rallied. Neighbors helped neighbors; community, county and federal leaders came to assist in phenomenal ways; the churches and synagogues formed an Interfaith Action team; and a host of fearless leaders stepped forward to coordinate the efforts.

None the least of which, was Joyce Amacher. Co-founder of the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, Joyce and a team of volunteers quickly founded the Replant the Dunwoody Forest initiative with the lofty (and fully realized) goal of replanting 20,000 trees. 

By the tornado’s first anniversary in April 1999, the community had much to celebrate. A ceremony was held on April 9 at Brook Run to commemorate the victims and rebuilding efforts, followed by a community-wide Mass and reception at All Saints Church, and potluck dinners organized by individual neighborhoods. That weekend was filled with the planting of 900 more trees, the inaugural Replant the Dunwoody Forest 5K through the streets of Kingsley, followed by an a community prayer service.

By April of 2000, Dunwoody had made lemonade from its calamity and Lemonade Days was born. Under the direction of the DPT, the 5K race became the Lemonade Days 5K and the event included a children’s carnival on the grounds of the Cheek-Spruill House, complete with pony rides, a petting zoo and face painting. Games, including a homemade beanbag toss and balloon-popping games were made by volunteers and children played for tiny trinket prizes. The highlight of the three-day event was a home tour of seven homes that had been destroyed and rebuilt following the tornado.

A year later, Lemonade Days 2001 opened with an outdoor art show at the Shops of Dunwoody sponsored by the Dunwoody Arts and Crafts Guild, followed by a second home tour, this one also including several historic homes. The event also repeated the road race and carnival games at the Cheek-Spruill House.

By 2004, Lemonade Days had been moved to Brook Run Park. The homemade carnival games, pony rides and an inflatable moonwalk were relocated to the grounds of the city’s new park and the celebration opened with a theater production featuring Dunwoody performers in a show created just for Lemonade Days in the now-demolished Brook Run Theater.  The Fine Arts and Arts and Crafts Guild held shows and sold wares around the theater and the area of the Veteran’s Memorial. The 5K race ran through the park.

A similar line-up took place for Lemonade Days 2005 when Stage Door Player’s created the two-night Broadway-style production and the festival line-up included a rock-climbing venue, a Sunday family picnic and Sunday night musical performances. 

It was in 2006 , however, that Lemonade Days as we know it today began. 

A contract was signed with Peachtree Rides to bring full-scale carnival rides and midway attractions to Brook Run Park. Peachtree Rides’ owner Ray Guthrie had doubts for the success. A long-time carnival owner, he warned then-DPT Co-president Danny Ross that Brook Run was too remote to attract visitors and suggested instead the parking lot of Perimeter Mall. But Ross insisted, seeking a country fair-style event filled with corn dogs, funnel cakes and ferris wheels. Guthrie agreed, but brought only a minimal number of rides, fearing low attendance.

But the community came in droves. The days-gone-by ideals of an old-fashioned carnival resonated with families, children, teens and seniors, and Lemonade Days quickly became Dunwoody’s largest and favorite community festival.            

Since that time and under the guidance of past chairs Tom McGurk, Jeff Glick, Lisa Victory and Hope Follmer, the festival has grown in scope, expanded to five days, and welcomed new features each year. The major fundraiser for the Dunwoody Preservation Trust, proceeds have funded the organization’s efforts throughout the community, including renovations to the city’s landmark Cheek-Spruill House, and have been solely earmarked to the rebuilding and refurbishment of the historic Donaldson-Bannister Farm since 2010. 

A befitting testament to the mantra, “When life gives you lemons… make lemonade,” Lemonade Days is a welcome and beloved treat for springtime in Dunwoody — and its bountiful history makes it sweeter still.


Down payments: Which strategy is right for you?

Do you have the cash to make a 20 percent down payment on the home you wish to purchase?

The logic behind saving 20 percent is solid, as it shows that you have the financial discipline and stability to save for a long-term goal. It also helps you get favorable rates from lenders, and can advance your offer in the eyes of sellers when compared to offers where purchasers will be borrowing more .

But there can actually be financial benefits to putting down a small down payment—as low as three percent—rather than parting with so much cash up front, even if you have the money available.

Smaller down payments will cost more in the short-run.

The downsides of a small down payment are pretty well known. You’ll have to pay Private Mortgage Insurance — protection to your lender— until your payments cover 20% of the purchase price, and the lower your down payment, the more you’ll pay. You’ll also be offered a lesser loan amount than borrowers who have a 20-percent down payment, which will eliminate some homes from your search.

But it could have long-term return.

The national average for home appreciation is about five percent. The appreciation is independent from your home payment, so whether you put down 20 percent or three percent, the increase in equity is the same. If you’re looking at your home as an investment, putting down a smaller amount can lead to a higher return on investment, while also leaving more of your savings free for home repairs, upgrades, or other investment opportunities.

Weigh the options with your lender; a happy medium might be the answer.

A good mortgage broker or knowledgable lender can outline the best option based on your needs and plans. Most borrowers can find some common ground between the security of a traditional 20 percent and an investment-focused, small down payment.

The Red Rabbit Team can suggest options for lenders and mortgage brokers that have served clients well in the past. Let us know if we can help!


Dunwoody: One ‘o’ or two?

UPDATE: Here’s a post we posted a while ago, but look what we found to add to it. Related? We have no idea, but note that Dunwody & Sons is located in Atlanta.

Two ‘o’s in Dunwoody. (But only for a post office error.)

Creek Indians settled along the banks of the Chattahoochee River, but it is Maj. Charles Dunwody — just one ‘o’ in his name— that is considered Dunwoody’s earliest pioneer. Raised in Roswell’s Mimosa Hall—which still stands today—Charles returned to the area after the Civil War. He purchased farm land, two horses and built his home at the intersection of Chamblee Dunwoody and Spalding Roads not far from a railroad stop that connected Roswell and downtown Atlanta. Dunwody raised his family there and new families settled close by.

Fifteen or so miles from burgeoning Atlanta, the area was popular for summer homes for many businessmen and their families.

The spelling error occurred with Dunwody’s petition to open a post office for the community. A clerk added an ‘o’ to the application, and the community of Dunwoody was born. Dunwoody became an official city more than 125 years later, on December 1, 2008.

Learn more Dunwoody history on this video produced by the Dunwoody Preservation Trust.



Lightbulbs: Remember when they were simple?

This may be common knowledge to most readers, but it wasn’t to the KF part of the Red Rabbit Team for a long time: Recessed ceiling lights need a reflective bulb. By reflective, I mean the type that have the silver or opaque shell along the bottom allowing all the light to go in only one direction.

We struggled for years with bulbs burning out—especially along the outside wall of our kitchen—and for good reason: The bulbs were getting too hot above the ceiling, particularly in areas where there was limited space between the ceiling and the roof’s beams. Frustrating and scary. Once I understood the importance of reflective bulbs, the situation improved greatly. Once I finally invested in LED reflective bulbs, my world became brighter still. Though I’m hesitant to believe the 10-year claims, we are rarely changing bulbs and I’m thrilled with the energy savings and knowing that they are not giving off heat in any direction.

Have you made the conversion to LED lighting?

It was a tough sell for awhile as costs were initally as much as ten times the cost of incandescent and flurescent bulbs, but that’s changing.

Costs for LEDs are going down each year. Combine that with the fact LED lights do not emit heat, last much longer and use much less energy, it’s a good time to make a switch.

There are a few additional benefits.

While early versions were panned for providing poor diffusion through a room, the technology is improving. Conversely, LEDs have always worked well for spotlighting, so they are particularly effective as under-counter or bathroom lighting. More, they are safer — no toxic materials like mercury vapor and no glass. And, bulb designs are improving; a well-stocked hardware store will provide more options than you’ll care to peruse, so bring your patience and a notepad.

But there are still a few cons.

They are not always compatible with dimmers and can flicker with some fixtures.

LEDs are cooler in color. The blue light they emit is a nice match for natural, mid-day daylight and work well in kitchens and bathrooms, but less attractive for lighting living spaces and bedrooms.

The 10,000-hour claim might not always be true. LEDs often degrade and can become less bright and less efficient over time and can even fail completely in high temperature situations.