Residents lament loss of fireworks
Gwinnett Glows cut, but other shows filling gap

LAWRENCEVILLE - Every Independence Day, Rex Millsaps serves his kids - later, his grandkids - ice cream and then heads toward the center of town to watch fireworks.

"That's something the kids always looked forward to, and now the grandkids," he said.

This year, though, the mayor of Lawrenceville says he will have to turn on the TV to see the pyrotechnics.

Gwinnett Glows, a tradition that last year celebrated its 20th year of entertaining tens of thousands, has been canceled, a victim of the county's budget crisis.

"It's sad to see a tradition like this end," said county spokeswoman Heather Sawyer. "I think for the most part people have been understanding. As many people want to see fireworks, there are as many people who didn't think it was an appropriate way to spend money."

County commissioners voted in January to cut $55,000 for fireworks out of the government's budget, but Sawyer said the event's price tag, after renting inflatables and port-a-lets and paying staff for overtime, was closer to $200,000.

Sponsors helped pick up nearly half of that price tag, but Sawyer said the sponsorships have been harder to get in the past several years as the economy began to force pocketbooks closed.

Millsaps said he thought the county got as much benefit from the event to counter the cost, but Winsome Smith-Barker, a Lawrenceville woman who has gone to the event since she moved to the area more than a decade ago, said she understands.

"Fourth of July won't be the same," she said, wondering if the county had been willing to take up a collection to continue the event. "I don't mind them cutting that instead of law enforcement."

Millsaps said he is going to begin a new family tradition this year, bringing the clan to the Prelude to the Fourth event on the historic Square Friday.

The city is sponsoring the July 3 event - now in its fifth year - to include a special outdoor concert version of Cole Porter's "Anything Goes" and a fireworks display.

While the county has cut other events such as a National County Government Day open house and a Movies Under the Stars event, but Sawyer said the annual Lighting of the Christmas Tree in the Square is still in the works.

She has been trying to get the word out about the cancellation of Gwinnett Glows, but she said people shouldn't have a problem finding a place to celebrate Independence Day, as events are scheduled throughout Gwinnett both on Friday and Saturday.

"It was quite a tradition," she said. "Fortunately, there are other fireworks activities to participate in."

SideBar: Lighting up the sky

Independence Day Celebration in Norcross

· What: Live music from the Skin Alley Cats, fireworks, rides, vendors, food and games

· When: 2 to 10 p.m. Friday

· Where: Lillian Webb Park, 5 College St., Norcross

· Cost: Free

· For more information: Call 770-448-2122 or visit www.norcrossculturalarts.


Mall of Georgia's Fabulous Fourth

· What: Two days of live music, family-friendly activities and a fireworks display, including performances by the Mike Rogers Band from 2 to 4 p.m., Johnny Rockbridge from 4 to 6 and Lifeforce from 6:30 to 8:30 Saturday with the film "Independence Day," presented by the Movies Under the Stars series, to follow

· When: 2 p.m. to dusk Friday and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday

· Where: Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Drive, Buford

· Cost: Free

· For more information: Call 678-482-8788

Duluth Celebrates America

· What: An evening of live entertainment, including performances by The Woody's, the Army Ground Forces Band Loose Cannons, inflatables and rides for children, food and a fireworks display

· When: 6 to 9:30 p.m. Friday

· Where: Scott Hudgens Park at River Green, 4545 River Green Parkway, Duluth

· Cost: Admission is free, while a fee will be charged for activities

· For more information: Call 770-476-3434 or visit www.duluthga.net

Sparks in the Park

· What: A movie - "Kung Fu Panda" - fireworks, inflatables, live entertainment, including a performance by Beatles tribute band The Return, and food vendors

· When: 6:30 to 10 p.m. Friday

· Where: E. E. Robinson Park, south of Sugar Hill Elementary on Sugar Maple Drive just off Level Creek in Sugar Hill

· Cost: Free

· For more information: Call 770-831-7413 or visit www.cityofsugarhill.com

Prelude to the 4th

· What: The Lawrenceville Tourism and Trade Association and Aurora Theatre present the annual, free, outdoor musical celebration followed by a pyrotechnics finale

· When: 7:30 p.m. Friday

· Where: Gwinnett Historic Courthouse lawn, 185 Crogan St., Lawrenceville

· Cost: Free for lawn seating

· For more information: Call 678-226-2639 or visit www.visitlawrenceville.com

42nd annual Fantastic Fourth Celebration

· What: Stone Mountain Park's Lasershow Spectacular and fireworks

· When: 9:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday

· Where: Stone Mountain Park, U.S. Highway 78 East, Exit 8, Stone Mountain

· Cost: $10 for parking

· For more information: Call 770-498-5690 or visit www.stonemountainpark.


Celebrate Braselton Festival

· What: A parade down Ga. Highway 53 at 10 a.m., followed by food, games, performances by Blue Billy Grit, Dirt and Saddle Creek, and a fireworks display courtesy of Chateau Elan

· When: 9 a.m. until fireworks conclude Saturday

· Where: Braselton Park, 126 Harrison St., Braselton

· Cost: Free

· For more information: Call 706-654-3915

Fourth of July Festival and Fireworks

· What: Live entertainment, vendors, food and fireworks

· When: 3 p.m. until fireworks conclude July 4

· Where: 1369 Fourth Ave., Auburn

· Cost: Free to attend

· For more information: Call 770-963-4002 ext. 223 or visit www.cityofauburn-ga.org

Chateau Elan Independence Day Fireworks

· What: Fireworks display

· When: Dusk on Saturday

· Where: Chateau Elan, 100 Tour de France, Braselton

· Cost: Free

· For more information: For more information, call 1-800-233-WINE or visit www.chateauelan.com