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UNG starts school year with music, fireworks
Starlight Celebration open to students, faculty, community
08242017 Starlight.jpg
Fireworks go off during the 2016 Starlight Celebration and Concert at UNG Gainesville. - photo by For The Times

A late summer celebration under twilight skies is in the stars when the University of North Georgia Gainesville holds its 19th annual Starlight Celebration on Aug. 26.

The event runs from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and includes musical performances from several student groups and fireworks after dark.

“We want people to bring their picnics, bring their neighbors, bring a Frisbee, bring a football,” said Richard Oates, campus vice president. “It’s just a great family atmosphere.” 

UNG Starlight Celebration

When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 26

Where: University of North Georgia Gainesville campus, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood

Cost: $10 per car and $20 per bus, van or larger; UNG students can enter free with valid UNG parking permit.

More info:

The event draws UNG students, faculty, staff and the community for a “celebration of the beginning of the new academic year.” 

The main entertainment includes performances from the Patriot Choir, the UNG Low Brass Collective, the UNG Men’s Quartet, the UNG Jazz Ensemble and the Gainesville Theatre Alliance.

“I think it’ll be a variety that will just showcase the talents,” Oates said. “We have a lot of talented students, and we want to showcase them, spotlight them, and like I said, just share with everybody the phenomenal students that we have.” 

There will also be a DJ, inflatables for children and fireworks.

“This is just another year where we’ll see great music and fun for families and activities for kids,” said Sylvia Carson, director of communications at UNG. “The pinnacle of the entire event are the fireworks, which are always a really great spectacle.”

Oates said they will have volunteers from all five campuses.

“We’re estimating that we had between 3,000 and 4,000 people in attendance last year,” he said. “I’m hoping we’ll have the same number (this year) or grow it a little bigger.”

Oates said hosting the celebration in August has led to more student involvement. 

“It originally was held during sometime in June, sort of to kick off the beginning of summer,” he said. “Last year we moved it to August at the end of our first week of classes as a celebration of the beginning of the new academic year. We wanted it be more student-focused and wanted to highlight and showcase our students to the community, to our faculty and to our staff. The turnout was amazing.”

This year, the only change will be the time the event starts.

“We’re opening up the gates a little bit later,” he said. “The majority of the crowd will be coming a little bit later as it gets a little cooler, so we’re opening at 5:30 p.m.”

And while it will most likely be hot, he said that shouldn’t deter attendance.

“Last year we said we’re going to embrace the heat, and we’re doing it again this year,” Oates said. “We’ll be handing out fans to everybody as they’re walking down the hill.”

The parking fee is $10 per car and $20 per bus, van or larger vehicle. UNG students can enter for free with a valid UNG parking permit.

“A sense of community is what the university and the college experience is all about,” Oates said. “The community and our community partners are a valuable part of our educational experience, so we want them to come to our campus and feel the excitement of the new academic year.”