From fireworks to barbecue to history lessons, activities in celebration of the nation's independence are all over Columbia County this weekend.
For those who stay on local roads or travel the state for those celebrations, the Georgia State Patrol is urging motorists to drive safely to avoid being part of sobering weekend wreck predictions.
"Anytime a holiday period falls on a weekend, there is an increased chance of encountering an alcohol-impaired driver as you travel," Col. Bill Kitchens, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety, said in a press release.
The Georgia State Patrol is predicting 1,874 vehicle crashes, with 895 injuries and 22 fatalities during the holiday weekend that begins at 6 p.m. Thursday and ends at midnight Sunday.
Local Independence Day activities begin at 5 p.m. Thursday with the U.S. Army's annual celebration at Fort Gordon's Barton Field. Activities will include games, crafts, food, live entertainment and a motorcycle show.
The evening will end with a fireworks show at 9:45 p.m.
On Friday, the Little River Marina and Family Resort in Appling will hold its 22nd annual Lake Freedom Fireworks Spectacular.
The events begin at 3 p.m. with old-fashioned contests and games, with a Christian concert starting at 6 p.m. and fireworks at 9:30.
Grovetown continues its tradition on the Fourth of July with its city barbecue starting at noon Saturday at Liberty Park Community Center on Newmantown Road.
Barbecue is free, with takeout plates available for $5.
The events continue at 4 p.m. Saturday at Patriots Park with Columbia County's 15th annual Fourth of July Celebration.
Children's games and food vendors will be available throughout the day, and musical performances will begin at 6 p.m. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m.
Parking for the event is at the Columbia County Fairgrounds, and vehicles immediately after the event will be allowed to make left turns only on Columbia Road -- toward Appling.
From there, Baker Place and Chamblin roads can take motorists back toward Grovetown, while Old Louisville Road can take motorists back toward Martinez and Evans.
Also on Saturday evening, visitors to Mistletoe State Park can hear a history lesson from Bob and Jan Perry. They will discuss the lives of ordinary "backcountry" residents while the Declaration of Independence was being signed in Philadelphia, according to park officials.
The discussion begins at 8 p.m. at the park's Assembly Shelter and is free with a $5 parking pass.
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