Originally created 06/19/03

First Friday coincides with Fourth of July

With First Friday falling on the Fourth of July this year, police and event organizers are expecting a crowd of 100,000 people downtown.

Planned are fireworks displays over the Savannah River, an organized party on and behind the Augusta Common, and typical First Friday festivities along Broad Street, and several groups have begun meeting to coordinate the busy night.

The city will not close off any side streets for the night for security reasons, officials from Main Street Augusta, which organizes First Friday, said Wednesday.

"You can imagine having 100,000 people downtown, trying to get a fire truck or an ambulance through people, and having a street closed is going to be tough," said Main Street's executive director, Chris Naylor.

The decision puts a kink in the plan of some downtown merchants, who were hoping to hold a special music concert off Broad Street during First Friday.

Typically, 10th Street is blocked off to traffic for the monthly event.

A portion of Reynolds Street will be closed during the fireworks show, said Richmond County sheriff's Maj. Richard Weaver. He estimated that more than 60 deputies will be downtown for the night.

Pedestrian traffic along the sidewalks is a major concern for the event, said Carless Gay, the chairman of Main Street's event committee.

"We are putting most of the vendors on the westbound side of Broad Street," he said, "except for those instances where a shop owner specifically invites someone to be in front of their door."

Reach Vicky Eckenrode at (706) 823-3227 or vicky.eckenrode@augustachronicle.com.


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