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American Legion's July 4 fireworks show moves to Laurel Park

POSTED: June 24, 2008 5:00 a.m.

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Gainesville’s traditional July 4 fireworks show is getting a makeover this year.

The fireworks show, which has been held at the American Legion on Riverside Drive for more than 40 years, will take place at Laurel Park this year.

"It’ll be twice the show we’ve been having," Ray Shubert of the American Legion said. "It’ll be a better show all the way around."

Shubert said the new location for the popular Fourth of July event was selected because it can accommodate more people and has more parking spaces.

Jim Lancaster, chairman of trustees with the American Legion, said the flatter terrain of Laurel Park is also much more suitable for the higher tech fireworks show they will be putting on this year.

Bob Adams of the American Legion said the location change may throw off longtime spectators, but called this year’s event trial and error.

"I’m used to it. It’s gotten to be an historical event," Adams said of the show at the American Legion. "We’re going to see if (Laurel Park) is a good place that can handle traffic better or if we go back to the legion."

For the first time, Hall County will be a sponsor of the event. The fireworks will take place at Laurel Park, which is a Hall County park, and the county will help purchase some of the fireworks.

Adams said the American Legion was short on funds when Hall County stepped up.

"They were very kind. I don’t think we would have been able to have fireworks," Adams said.

Steve Hutson, Parks and Leisure’s interim athletic director, said he is not sure if the partnership between Hall County and the American Legion will be permanent.

"We would continue to do it if it worked out," Hutson said. "I think everyone will enjoy it."

Lancaster said Laurel Park will be "a lot more of a family atmosphere."

Hall County parks do not allow alcohol on the premises, he said.

The annual fireworks show will take place on July 4 at Laurel Park. The fireworks will start at dark, at about 9:15 or 9:30 p.m. The American Legion will be selling food and beverages.

"It’s exciting and sad," Shubert said of the new show. "We’ve had them at the American Legion as long as I can remember."



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