COVINGTON -- There are plenty of opportunities to celebrate America's independence this Fourth of July, whether watching fireworks, enjoying a twilight paddle on the lake or joining a parade.
The annual Independence in the Park begins at 4 p.m. July 4 in downtown Covington. Mack McKibben, owner of McKibben Music, is once again the event planner, and is bringing a variety of musical acts to the Square, including 'American Idol' runner-up Bo Bice. McKibben estimates a crowd of between 7,000 and 10,000.
"My vision there years ago was to have community, local people in this area to showcase their talent here," he said.
First up will be a 45-minute patriotic program presented by the Community Choir directed by Tim Barnes, minister of music at First Baptist Church of Covington. Following at 5 p.m. will be a performance by the Community Band directed by T.K. Adams, an annual tradition.
Also in the lineup are Vista Kings, Central Community Church Praise Team, Xavier Gordon featuring Olivia Adams, Church at Covington Praise Team, Drew Parker Band and McKibben's band Drive Time.
The event will culminate with a fireworks show at dark.
Motorists should expect some road closures downtown on July 3 while crews set up the event, and the entire Square will be closed beginning at 8 a.m. July 4.
"Just come and celebrate our independence. We know our country has its own set of problems, but we still live in the best country on this planet and we have a lot to be grateful for and be thankful for," McKibben said.
The city will also host fireworks on the Fourth, along with festivities downtown.
The event kicks off at 4 p.m. and includes a parade, live music, wrestling, a spider bungee jump, and concludes with fireworks at dark. The parade begins at 4 p.m. at Porterdale Baptist Church. All are welcome to participate and encouraged to wear red, white and blue.
TNG Band will perform from 4 to 9 p.m. Platinum Championship Wrestling will present the "Double Cage Firework Battle on Hemlock" from 5 to 8 p.m.
The Porterdale City Council may lift the prohibition on open containers for the Fourth celebration in the designated downtown area. Drinks would have to be purchased from local establishments and could not be brought in from outside. The council is expected to vote July 1.
The fun and fellowship begins July 3 in Oxford with the Oxford Community Potluck Picnic. Sponsored by the Oxford Historical Shrine Society, the event is held at 6 p.m. on the front lawn of Old Church at the intersection of Wesley and Fletcher streets. Everyone is invited to bring a dish to share, a blanket or chair and enjoy homemade ice cream provided by the Oxford Lions Club.
On the Fourth, the city of Oxford and Oxford Lions Club will host the annual Fourth of July Parade and Celebration. The parade line up starts at 9 a.m. on Haygood Avenue. Registration is only required for those who want to be considered for awards. The parade begins at 10 a.m. Firstplace ribbons and cash awards will be given for Best Float, Best Bicycle, Car, Truck, Antique Tractor, Lawn Mower, Best Equine, Go Cart and Four Wheeler. For safety reasons, participants are not allowed to throw candy from vehicles, but walkers may hand out candy. Horses are welcome, but no stallions. To view the parade route, visit www.Oxfordgeorgia.org or visit Oxford City Hall.
Following the parade, everyone is invited to gather at Old Church for presentation of awards, entertainment by the Shane Millwood Band, concessions and free popcorn and watermelon provided by the Lions Club.
A parade through town begins at 6 p.m. June 29. The parade ends at Stephens Park, where there will be gospel singing and a fireworks display.
-- Hard Labor Creek Park
Interested in trying something different this Fourth? Hard Labor Creek Park is offering two paddling events. Twilight Paddle on Lake Rutledge takes place from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, July 4 and Friday, July 5.
The Fourth of July Paddle takes place a little later, from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. July 4 and 5. Promoted as a peaceful alternative to the Fourth, it offers star gazing and night sounds on Lake Rutledge.
Participants will watch for ospreys and kingfishers and watch the sunset on this ranger-guided tour. Space is limited and registration is required. The cost is $15 per person plus a $5 parking fee. The meeting spot is the park office/trading post. Call 706-557-3001 for more information.