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Area residents try to keep dry during Fourth of July plans
Rain helps keeps Lake Lanier empty
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Boaters take shelter under the bridge on Ga. 284 on Thursday afternoon at Clarks Bridge Park. Rain altered many plans on this Fourth of July, including most area fireworks. - photo by NAT GURLEY

There were flashes of light and loud booms on the Fourth of July. Unfortunately they weren’t the controlled, colorful kind.

As anticipated by the National Weather Service, thunder and lightning struck in the afternoon on the holiday, with a steady stream of heavy rain or drizzle coming down most of the day.

A little more than an inch of rain was recorded Thursday at Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville. As of 10:15 p.m., the level of Lake Lanier had risen to 1,072.01 feet above sea level, up about 3.5 inches from the same time Wednesday.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources reported no boating-related incidents or boating under the influence citations on Lake Lanier, as the rain kept most people off the water.

DNR reported only three BUIs statewide, down from seven on last year’s Fourth of July, and two boating incidents, one each on Lake Hartwell and Lake Burton, down from three last year. The boating incidents caused three injuries, the most serious being a broken arm.

However, some residents still braved soggy conditions to grill outside, socialize and be merry on the federal holiday that honors the anniversary of the day the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain.

“This is a traditional gathering we have every Fourth,” said Pastor Samuel Samaniego, who serves the Spanish-speaking community within the Oakwood Baptist Church.

The churchgoers came out in droves at Laurel Park in Hall County to celebrate the 237th Fourth of July.

“I’d say about half the congregation came,” he said of the about 150 regulars in the Spanish-speaking ministry.

While a wet Fourth of July didn’t dampen people’s patriotic pride, it did cause the cancellation of the normally luminous light display over Lake Lanier, held annually at the park by the American Legion Paul E. Bolding Post 7.

“We’re bummed there won’t be fireworks, of course, but we might set off some of our own,” Murrayville resident Woody Draggoo said, also at the park with friends and family.

Members of the church crowd also said they would possibly let the children do sparklers later, although they looked largely content to get their feet muddy playing outdoor sports.

“People are playing volleyball, soccer, badminton,” Samaniego listed. “We didn’t let it stop us from enjoying ourselves.”

But for those disappointed in missing the big fireworks display, the American Legion plans to schedule for Labor Day what would have been its 50th time hosting the spectacle for the public.

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