0

Albany sends fireworks soaring

Photo by Casey Dixon

Photo by Casey Dixon

ALBANY, Ga. -- With many smaller towns not holding celebrations, Albany's Independence Day Celebration drew spectators from all over Southwest Georgia.

Keith Brooks brought his family's four children to Veteran's Memorial Park in downtown, spread out a blanket on the grass and sat back to wait for the fireworks show.

"I'm from Worth County and I don't think they are doing anything," Brooks said. "So we came here to see the fireworks."

That isn't unusual, said Kristin Caso, special events coordinator for the Albany Recreation and Parks Department.

"I'm expecting at least 25- to- 30,000 people to show up from all Southwest Georgia for the fireworks," Caso said. "A lot of the smaller towns have cancelled events."

Caso and her assistant handed out flags, stickers and fans to celebrate the occasion of America's birth from a heavily red, white and blue decorated booth on Front Street.

"You cannot decorate too much for Independence Day," Caso said. "You can never have too much red, white and blue."

People began arriving before 5 p.m. at the park's near the Flint River and along Front Street from the RiverQuarium to the north south to the Civic Center.

This would mark the 21st annual fireworks for fireworks coordinator Dale Henry and his crew of eight from the ranks of city employees.

Last year the crew launched 2,200 shells to explode 800 feet in the air. The fireworks display always brings a multi-colored, sparkling celebration to the city's downtown spectators.

Spectators take part in the day's festivities in other ways than just "Oooing" and "Ahhing" to the show. Independence Day is always a celebration of finger foods.

Food vendors set up to sell their victuals at the celebration. One was a naturalized citizen who could hardly contain his enthusiasm for Independence Day and the country.

"This is a great day for everybody," said Hanson Nguyen, of Vietnamese heritage and a citizen since 1989. "I have great love for this country and the people. Today is a great day."

Hot Eats Vending's Audrey Ward, of Bainbridge, said she had enough food on hand to feed 10,000 spectators. Asked if her Blooming Onions weren't an Australian idea she didn't take offense.

"If they want to eat I've got the food," Ward said. "Don't you worry about our Blooming Onions, we have good old American barbecued turkey legs too."

The food impressed fireworks spectator David Kimbrough, but he had other thoughts on the day.

"The food and fireworks are great," Kimbrough said. "But we shouldn't forget all the veterans and all they did to keep us free."