Thunder Over Augusta is returning to Evans on Saturday, May 18, for the annual tribute to the nation’s military.
The Armed Forces Day celebration moved from downtown Augusta to Evans Towne Center Park last year.
Event organizers liked the central location downtown, but didn’t like spreading out the activities over such a large area, said Shane Thompson, an event organizer.
“When we brought it out (to Evans), we had everything centralized and it had a bigger impact than we thought it would,” Thompson said.
Activities will run from noon to 10 p.m. at the park. Admission is free.
Andy Jones, Donnie Thompson and Dale Phelon started the event in 2008 as a way to show military appreciation.
“It’s a celebration,” Thompson said. “They wanted to make it a special time for those veterans and the military to come out.
“It’s entertainment for everybody, but the military feels special that they are being appreciated.”
There’s plenty of activities and entertainment on the schedule, including performances by Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band at 6:45 p.m. Also performing are the U.S. Army Signal Corps Band, UGA Georgettes dance team, Team FMX Stunt Extreme Show and the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office canine unit.
Show planes will fly over at 2 p.m., and skydivers will drop into the park at about 5:15 p.m.
“There will be multiple folks jumping with American flags,” Thompson said.
Numerous military vehicles will be on display, as well as a military field hospital and satellite communications systems.
Visitors also can get rides in an AH-1 Cobra attack helicopter for $275 or a UH-1 Huey for $60.
“There are plenty of fun things for kids to do,” Thompson said. “The cool part is everything except the helicopter rides (and refreshments) is free.”
The posting of the colors, address and swearing in of new military recruits at 4:30 p.m. is a moving ceremony, Thompson said.
The evening ends with a large fireworks display at 9 p.m. The fireworks, he said, features a high concentration of mid-level fireworks to dazzle the close-up crowd.
The parking lot off Ronald Reagan Drive on the south side of the park will be reserved for handicap parking, and Evans Towne Center Boulevard will be shut down for the day, Thompson said.
No coolers will be allowed, but Thompson encourages those attending the concert to arrive early and bring chairs or blankets.
“If you’re coming in right about the time of the concert, the parking will be difficult,” he said. “Earlier will be easier.”
For more information, visit thunderoveraugusta.com or visit the event’s Facebook page.