“They named it in honor of the tornado that went through here and cut down all the trees,” she said about the April 1998 event. “They said they were making lemonade out of lemons to make money to replant the trees.”
More than $250,000 was raised to plant about 25,000 trees uprooted by the funnel’s path of destruction.
“It missed us by about three blocks,” Hutcheson said about her home. “We felt the outlying wind from it, but that was all.”
Not so lucky were houses on Chamblee Dunwoody Road, including the historic Donaldson-Bannister House and Farm.
“All of that area was covered in blue tarps for weeks and weeks after that,” Hutcheson said.
While preparations may be at a whirlwind pace for the 14th annual event, its objective is no longer disaster relief.
“They are raising money this year looking to do improvements in the farmhouses,” Hutcheson said about the Donaldson-Bannister property and the Cheek-Spruill Farmhouse.
To help, she and her co-chair Anne Bray, of the Dunwoody Arts and Crafts Guild, are filling Brook Run Park with products.
“We’ll have almost 40 vendors, which is all that we can fit into the space we’re allotted,” Hutcheson said.
Breaking a long-standing rule this year is a Snellville-based nonprofit, A Peace of Thread, which is selling handbags to benefit refugee women.
“This is new to us because we always insisted all the vendors make their own items,” Hutcheson said.
The family oriented event, which attracts tens of thousands, is “America at its best,” according to Dunwoody City Councilman Denis Shortal.
“It’s just like a county fair except we don’t have animals to judge,” he said. “We do have a petting zoo.”
There will also be a dunk tank, in which city councilmembers will take turns, a soap box derby, skate park demonstrations, a carnival and amusement park rides.
“You take your kids and grandkids there. You can pay one fee and they can ride to their hearts’ content,” Shortal said.
The lemonade motif will be expressed in a lemonade stand, lemon-scented soap, the new Big Squeeze 5K and a souvenir.
“One of the things you’ve got to do is get the T-shirt,” Shortal said. “It’s like running the Peachtree [Road Race].”
If you go:
When: April 17 to 21
Where: Brook Run Park, 4770 N. Peachtree Road, Dunwoody