She’s not yet sure who will be appearing in the Fourth of July parade as grand marshal - it could be Debbie Burdette or it could be Mama Jama.
Either way, the children at the annual Sweet Land of Liberty parade will know who is leading the parade with the theme, “American Stories.”
“They didn’t use to recognize me without my Mama Jama costume, but now they have started knowing who am I,” Burdette said. It’s usually her voice that tips them off or sometimes it’s the sparkly pin she always wears that says, “Read.”
Burdette, executive director of Certified Literate Community Program, is all about reading and that’s why she was chosen for the July 4 honor.
“She is recognized by children across the county due to her countless volunteer appearance at our libraries, schools and even birthday parties,” said Maria Solomon, co-chair for the parade. “She is also admired by many of the leaders in our community due to her tireless efforts to increase literacy in our area.”
Burdette began the program in 2000 and added her Mama Jama persona soon after.
“It started at vacation Bible school at First Presbyterian Church. Then teachers asked me to come and read stories in their classes and it grew from there,” she said.
Dressing up in a long, flowing dress and wearing an excess of jewelry gets the children’s attention.
“Once you have their attention, then you can focus on reading and literature and getting the message to them,” Burdette said.
The annual Sweet Land of Liberty Parade will be at 10 a.m. July 4 and is open to youth 19 years and younger. No adults are allowed in the parade except those designated by the committee. Floats must be made by the participants, although they may have adult supervision.
Participation is free and registration forms are available from Troup County Parks and Recreation.