COVINGTON - This year's Fourth of July celebration will include plenty of entertainment, food, fun and, of course, fireworks for the whole family.
The Church at Covington is once again partnering with Newton County and the city of Covington to host the event on the church campus at 11975 Ga. Highway 142 N.
The celebration will kick off at 5 p.m., with fireworks scheduled to start about 9:30 p.m.
Entertainment will be provided by a variety of musical acts, including local bands Drive Time and Blu Maxx. The festivities will wrap up about 11 p.m. with a light show and performance by Twisted Hip, a party band out of Atlanta.
Senior Pastor David Payne said he hoped people would stagger their departure and not try to leave at the same time.
"There will be kicking entertainment after the fireworks," he promised.
In addition to the entertainment, there will be moonwalks for kids and between 15 and 20 food vendors on hand.
There is no charge for parking or admission to the event, which has more than quadrupled in size since it first began, drawing 20,000 spectators last year.
The county owns more than 180 acres of property near the church, which will be used to shoot off fireworks and for parking.
The public is encouraged to bring food, chairs, blankets and tents, but personal fireworks and grills are not allowed.
Security will be provided by local law enforcement, who will be stationed throughout the site and dispatched at any signs of trouble, according to Lt. Bill Watterson with the Newton County Sheriff's Office.
"We usually have a really good group," Watterson said, adding that the main concerns are public drunkenness, drug activity or fire hazards, such as personal fireworks and grills.
Deputies will also be on hand to direct traffic, Watterson said, noting that Airport Road will be closed between Poole Booth Road and Ga. Highway 142. Traffic is usually cleared out 45 minutes to an hour after the event is over, he said.
Watterson asked that motorists be aware of small children and pedestrians walking between cars in the parking lots.
This year's event is being funded in part by several area Wal-Mart Supercenters, whose managers donated $25,000 to help pay the church's expenses.
Payne said the event typically costs the church between $35,000 and $40,000 to host.
"Last year, we raised $15,000 to $20,000, and then we put in $15,000 to $20,000. This year, we didn't have (the money) because of budgetary concerns in our general budget. Wal-Mart came through in a big way," Payne said.
The county and city each contributed $3,750 to purchase fireworks and provide public safety for the event.
"It's corporate, government and the church working together to give citizens a great afternoon of entertainment and fun, and it doesn't cost anything," Payne said.
The fireworks will take place rain or shine, he added.
Crystal Tatum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SideBar: If you go
· What: Fourth of July celebration
· When: 5 to 11 p.m., with fireworks at 9:30, July 4
· Where: The Church at Covington, 11975 Ga. Highway 142 N.