Rain holds off just long enough for fireworks

When Sara Head pulled up to the Augusta Common to celebrate the Fourth of July, gray clouds hovered over the jumping castles and the stage where belly dancers were swaying in front of the crowd.

She smelled hot dogs grilling and fresh funnel cakes. But even over that, was the distant smell of rain.

“When we left the house, I thought I must be crazy,” said Head, who brought along her mother, 6-year-old daughter, and a big, red umbrella. “The day is important to us, so we braved it.”

Undeterred by any threat of bad weather, Head and thousands of spectators filled downtown Augusta to celebrate the most patriotic day of the year. The Fourth of July festivities started at the Common with vendors and live music and closed with the annual fireworks show over the Fifth Street Bridge.

The clouds stayed for the whole day, but as if on cue, a full rain held off until a few minutes after the fireworks ended around 9:50 p.m.

David Willison traveled from Summerville, S.C., with his wife and1-year-old son to watch the fireworks explode over the Savannah River.

He stood on the Common with a neon sparkler around his neck, pointing to the bursts of light for his son.

“We live in the best country there is,” he said. “It’s good to celebrate the freedom we have and honor the troops overseas fighting for everyone to be able to be here.”

Organizers with Augusta Recreation, Parks and Facilities Department, which put on the event, were expecting about 10,000 people to show up for the festivities.

Yolanda Greenwood, the special events manager for the department, said her staff begins organizing the event in December and lined up 39 vendors and eight performers for this year.

Although her staff was checking the radar “every minute of every hour,” she said the fireworks show would go on even through a downpour unless there was lightning.

“This is something we love to do for the community,” Greenwood said. “We want people to enjoy the festivities, the food, just the whole day.”

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