Salute to the military

Thunder Over Augusta, an Armed Forces Day tribute to members of the military, will take place Saturday in downtown Augusta. As was the case with last year's inaugural event, Thunder features an array of entertainment and education options, topped by a concert and a fireworks display. Here is a rundown of some of the major attractions and some hints for successfully navigating the popular event.

GETTING AROUND

The action is centered at four locations:

A: Augusta Common, the 800 block between Broad and Reynolds streets

B: The Morris Communications parking lot in the 700 block of Reynolds Street

C: The Old Depot building in the 600 block on Reynolds Street

D: The Fifth Street bridge

Last year's event proved popular enough that parking soon became scarce. This year, downtown parking will be augmented with parking at (1.) James Brown Arena on Seventh Street and the (2.) municipal building in the 500 block of Telfair Street. A shuttle will run between Thunder Over Augusta and the satellite parking lots.

Fireworks fans might note that the best viewing spots last year were downstream from the railroad trestle, on the river side of the levee over the marina. There will be a lot of bridge-based action, so make sure you can see not only the sky but also the launching pad itself.

MUSIC

Army Signal Corps Band (1-1:45 p.m.; Augusta Common): This highly decorated military band plays the expected military anthems and has been known to burst out pop songs, show tunes and American Songbook ditties.

Patrick Blanchard Band (3-3:45 p.m.; Augusta Common): An Augusta favorite, Patrick Blanchard writes country-tinged rock that comes alive when played in a full-band format.

Navy All-Volunteer Chorus (4-4:45 p.m.; Augusta Common and 6-6:30 p.m.; Old Depot): As a part of the proud tradition of American military vocal groups, this large ensemble is expected to provide no shortage of patriotic works.

Sassy Brass (6-6:45 p.m.; Augusta Common): This classic show band specializes in rock, pop and beach music hits, featuring its horn section.

Stephanie Lynn (7-7:45 p.m.; Augusta Common): Augusta's own pop princess in the Miley mold, Miss Lynn is, at 17, leading her band through sets of tunes she wrote.

Spectrum (8-9:15 p.m.; Old Depot): This Las Vegas act appeared with the Augusta Symphony this year. The group returns with its Motown tribute show, playing until just before the rockets' red glare.

OTHER ATTRACTIONS

Jet FlyOver (noon; Augusta Common): The day's first opportunity to look up. The flyover will wrap an opening ceremony that includes the posting of the colors and 11-year-old Jaycee Ward singing the national anthem.

Combat Drills (3-3:30 p.m. and 4-4:30 p.m.; Augusta Common): An up-close look at some of the training American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines go through.

Military Working Dogs (3:30-4 p.m. and 4:30-5 p.m.; Augusta Common): Work dogs fulfill a variety of missions in the modern military and several will be demonstrated.

Paratainment Sky-dive Team (5:30 p.m.): This Barnwell, S.C., parachute team will drop in, landing in the field behind the Old Depot.

Golden Knights Sky-dive Team (6:30 p.m.): The Army precision skydiving team, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., also makes its drop at the Old Depot.

Fireworks Display (9:15 p.m.): Launching from the Fifth Street bridge, this year's display was designed by Melrose Pyrotechnics, the award-winning company responsible for last year's display.

Car Show (Morris Communications parking lot): A new addition this year, the Thunder Over Augusta car show will feature more than 300 automobiles and motorcycles in 10 classes of competition.

Thunder Over Augusta also will feature an array of simulator exhibits, static displays and educational booths, tanks from Fort Stewart and military Humvees.

BOOM

WHAT: Thunder Over Augusta

WHEN: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Downtown Augusta

COST: Free; thunderoveraugusta.com

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