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Celebrations will fill the sky at Fourth festivities

Laurel Park will light up again for Independence Day holiday

POSTED: June 30, 2011 12:30 a.m.
SARA GUEVARA /The Times

Fireworks illuminate the sky during last year's annual American Legion fireworks show at Laurel Park.

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With the Fourth of July just around the corner, many people are looking forward seeing the rockets' red, white and blue glare.

This year, there are a number of fireworks displays planned in and around Hall County. For the last four decades, the American Legion's display has been a staple in local Independence Day celebrations.

"We've been putting it on for 48 years," said Larry Emmett, commander of the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7 in Gainesville.

"It got so big that we couldn't get everyone around (our post), so we moved it to Laurel Park. This is our fourth year there."

The gates for the free event will open at 10 a.m. Monday. The 40-minute fireworks show will begin at dusk, however if you want to make it inside the park, you should plan on arriving before the sun starts to go down.

"We anticipate there being at least 7,000 to 8,000 people," Emmett said.

"If you're coming, I'd suggest you come early because we've had to turn people away at the road before the show begins because the park is full."

In addition to getting prime seating, early arrival also gives you more time to enjoy the other festivities.
"One of the churches is going to have bouncy houses for the children, LifeSouth (Community Blood Center) will have a blood mobile out there and we will have refreshments for sale," Emmett said.

"It's just a good, family environment."

Even though food and drinks will be for sale at the park on Cleveland Highway in Gainesville, attendees are more than welcome to BYOP - bring your own picnic.

There will also be a booth set up for veterans who would like to join the American Legion or the local Vietnam Veterans of America group.

In addition to the Independence Day celebrations, the American Legion gives back in other ways like hosting the Memorial Day parade and sending pillows and blankets to deployed troops in Afghanistan. Emmett says they wouldn't be able to do nearly as much if not for the generosity of their sponsors.

Although they've been orchestrating Fourth of July fireworks displays for the last four decades, the group doesn't have any plans to stop anytime soon.

"This is an opportunity for us to celebrate the independence of our country," Emmett said.

"And it's also a way for us to show our appreciation to Gainesville and Hall County for all they do for our veterans."



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