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Where to See Fourth of July Fireworks Near Athens

Many Fourth of July celebrations include family and friends getting together to cook-out, take a swim in the pool, attend parades and enjoy a day of rest and commemoration. However, we all know the symbolic event that really dazzles a crowd when it comes to celebrating Independence Day here in the States: fireworks! 

This international treasure dates all the way back to 9th Century China and still brings joy to crowds today. In the U.S., fireworks became a common part of celebrations after the first Independence Day gathering took place in Philadelphia back in 1777. The War of 1812 with Great Britain inspired “The Star-Spangled Banner” and reinforced Americans’ love for fireworks displays.

As locals and frequent visitors know, Athens recently had its own fireworks show, The Star Spangled Classic, where folks could get their firework fix, but in case downtown was too packed or a show the weekend before the holiday wasn’t enough, here are the deets for Fourth of July celebrations taking place in the surrounding area.

Oconee County’s 4th of July Fireworks (9:30 p.m., 1791 Oconee Connector) This event will be held at the Epps Bridge Centre with no other activities scheduled. No pets, alcohol, tobacco products or personal fireworks permitted, and parking is not allowed at Hobby Lobby or on sidewalks. Parkway Boulevard will be closed as a safety precaution. 

Nicholson’s Independence Day Celebration (4–9:30 p.m., 225 Lakeview Dr.) Set to take place at East Jackson Park, where contests, rides and tons of other activities are planned. Vendors will be serving food and beverages, and a live performance from Steven Phillips and Midnight Express starts at 6 p.m. until fireworks wrap up the evening at dusk.

Oglethorpe County’s 2nd Annual July 4th Celebration (6 p.m., 34 Lakeshore Dr., Crawford) Located in Bryan Park, this celebration is free to the public and will include vendors, food trucks and bouncy houses. (Bonus: The first 750 people get a free drink and a slice of pizza.) Children’s entertainment wristbands are available for purchase for unlimited access to bouncy houses and train rides. Fireworks are expected to start around 9 p.m. No alcohol, tobacco or personal fireworks permitted. 

Barrow County’s Bright Fireworks Extravaganza (8 p.m., 985 Austin Road, Winder) This free event is taking place at the Innovation Amphitheater. Fireworks are the main event here, so there are no performances or activities, but food and drinks will be sold for those interested in refreshments. The amphitheater parking lot will be open to all who attend the show.

Honorable Mention: Colbert’s 50th Independence Day Celebration (9 a.m., 23 S. 4th St.) While this event doesn’t have fireworks, it’s a worthy celebration nonetheless. This year the gathering is centered on family, friends and agriculture, with a parade kicking things off at 9 a.m. Later, a farmer’s market will sell fresh produce, and vendors will be serving hamburgers, hot dogs and beverages. An array of other events are scheduled for the day, such as a homemade pie contest and musical performances by the Country River Band, Terry “Pops” Baker and the Brandon Sears Band. Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to attend as a special guest. Part of Highway 72 will be blocked off until the procession is concluded around 10 a.m.

DIY: Regardless of local noise ordinances, it’s legal to set off fireworks until 11:59 p.m. on July 3 and 4 in most parts of Georgia. Exceptions include parks, state property (such as the UGA campus) and within 100 yards of a gas station, water or sewer treatment plant, electric substation, jail, nursing home, hospital or other health care facility. Even though it’s legal, fireworks can scare young children, pets and people with post-traumatic stress disorder, so please be courteous to your neighbors. And be safe — fireworks caused nearly 13,000 emergency room visits and eight deaths in 2017.