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See how UNG lights up the summer sky for Starlight Celebration
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Fireworks from last year's Starlight Celebration and Concert at the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus in Oakwood. - photo by Courtesy University of North Georgia

The University of North Georgia will light up the night sky at the 20th annual Starlight Celebration fireworks show on Aug. 25 at the school’s Gainesville campus.  

The event will begin at 5:30 p.m. and is open to UNG students, faculty and staff and the surrounding community to celebrate the start of the fall semester.

Starlight Celebration

When: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Aug. 25

Where: University of North Georgia, Gainesville Campus, G.W. Bailey Amphitheater, 3820 Mundy Mill Road, Oakwood

How much: $10 per car or $20 per bus, van or larger vehicle; UNG students enter free with valid UNG parking permit 

More info: https://ung.edu/events/starlight.php


“In some ways, it’s like a conclusion of the summer,” said Sylvia Carson, director of communications at UNG. “So it goes out with a bang — literally — with this beautiful fireworks show.”

She said the celebration has become a tradition in the local area and offers a “feel-good type of environment.”

“It’s a great way to interact with the campus and with the students on our campus (and) with the community as a whole,” Carson said. “It’s an opportunity for the university to be able to celebrate all these great things that are going to be in store for the coming year.”

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Samiya Hunter jumps through bubbles during the 2016 Starlight Celebration and Concert. - photo by Time file photo

While the fireworks are the main attraction, the event will include other activities as well, including face painting, inflatables, a visit from the university’s mascot and even a DJ. 

“Come out, listen to some good music, bring a picnic, throw frisbees around, throw footballs around, have fun with your friends, interact with other people and watch the great fireworks at the end,” said Richard Oates, vice president of UNG’s Gainesville campus. “I don’t think it gets any better than that.” 

There also will be live musical performances by UNG’s Low Brass Collective, the Jazz Ensemble and the Patriot Choir, and food vendors on site.

“We are offering a free giveaway for the first 1,000 people,” Carson said. “It’s a cooling towel because it can get kind of warm.”

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Sawyer Wilson, a former University of North Georgia student, plays Frisbee with friends during the 2016 Starlight Celebration and Concert at UNG Gainesville. - photo by Times file photo

She said the celebration actually began as an event hosted by Gainesville State College before it consolidated into the University of North Georgia. 

“It was deemed appropriate to see it continue within this Gainesville community,” she said. “It (became) its own signature event (and) we still get to bring in the campus and get to do our part as good community partners.” 

In its 20th year now, the event has remained a hit with the local area and is now very popular with the university’s student body, too. 

“I have been blown away with the student response,” said Oates. “We have students coming from other campuses to participate in it, so it’s not just for Gainesville students, but it’s for all the UNG students.”

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The annual Starlight Celebration and Concert at the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus in Oakwood is held every year to celebrate the beginning of the school year. Students and staff from all five campuses volunteer during the event to provide entertainment and ensure things run smoothly.
Carson said the celebration is expected to draw in around 4,000 people in total this time.

“It’s grown and grown,” she said about the celebration. “At this point, it’s become something that the community expects to see.”

With so many guests attending, she said it “takes a village” to be able to pull off the whole thing. 

“There’s volunteers from all five campuses — students, faculty and staff, alumni,” she said. “We all come together and help coordinate it. It’s something that we’re committed to as an institution to see continue.”

She said the whole community is welcome at the celebration. 

“Everyone is encouraged to attend whether they have an affiliation with the institution or not,” she said. “I encourage people to come on out and take advantage and see what all the fuss is about.”

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Fireworks from last year's Starlight Celebration and Concert at the University of North Georgia Gainesville campus in Oakwood.
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