Sometimes July 4 isn’t about the biggest boom.
There are fireworks shows that attract tens of thousands of spectators. And then there are the small-town and neighborhood celebrations that feel more like a backyard cookout.
Why should you party small? There are smaller crowds to jostle; you can stay close to home; and, traffic will be lighter.
Some celebrations are even walkable, depending on where you live.
Here are a few of our favorite smaller-time Independence Day observances:
Boy Scouts will be selling food, a DJ will be spinning tunes, and the parking is free for those attending Avondale’s July 4 activities. A parade will step off at 10 a.m. from 1192 Clarendon Ave., and fireworks, launched over Lake Avondale, will begin at dusk. There are plenty of places around the lake to unfold a lawn chair and enjoy the free show.
52 Lakeshore Drive, Avondale Estates. avondaleestates.org
“If your dog or your children are terrified of fireworks, Georgia State Parks are a safe place to go,” said Kim Hatcher of Panola Mountain State Park.
That’s because fireworks aren’t allowed in state parks. But visitors to Panola can join in a guided evening hike to the top of the granite monadnock, where they can see quiet fireworks displays off in the distance, illuminating the night skies over nearby Stone Mountain and other locales.
Advance registration is required to participate in the night hike. There are 75 spots available and not all were claimed at press time. Parking is $5 and the event is $20. Snacks and ice cream are available at the day use area, and the bike path that takes visitors to Stonecrest Mall and the Monastery of the Holy Spirit will be open.
2620 Ga. 155 SW, Stockbridge. gastateparks.org/PanolaMountain
After a home-grown parade featuring children on decorated bicycles and onlookers brandishing squirt guns and water balloons, the residents of tiny Mountain Park (population 577) will enjoy a small-town Independence Day on the shore of Lake Cherful.
Gathering at the Lakeside Pavilion, the celebrants will enjoy music from local talent, food vendors, and, after dusk, a fireworks show reflected on the waters of the lake. Mountain Park is at the northwest corner of Fulton County, near Roswell, and straddles the border between Fulton and Cherokee County. (Hence, the compound name, Cherful, pronounced “cheerful.”)
How many will attend? “It depends on the weather,” said city administrator Karen Segars, but usually between 500 and 600.
100 Russell Road, Mountain Park. 770-993-4231. mountainparkgov.com/
At the other end of the scale is Acworth, a small town that puts on a big show.
There will be 15,000 people at Cauble Park on the north shore of Lake Acworth, according to James Albright, the city’s director of parks and recreation.
On the other hand, he said, there should room for everyone’s blankets, chairs and coolers. Live music begins at 4 p.m. and fireworks start sometime around 9:30 p.m. Parking is available in historic downtown Acworth, which is a short walk from the park.
The boat ramp will be closed that day because of limited parking, but some folks will bring kayaks and canoes.
4425 Beach Street. visitacworth.org
East Atlanta Village
The volunteers responsible for the yearly street party called the East Atlanta Strut will be staging a July 4 shindig for the first time this year, with the thought that East Atlanta residents should have a show of their own.
“Instead of having to drive somewhere to see decent fireworks, they can walk up to the village in their own neighborhood,” said Strut coordinator Michelle Rice.
There will be a viewing area set up in front of Holy Taco, at 1314 Glenwood Ave., and part of the street will be closed off during the show, which begins around 9:30 p.m., said Rice.
East Atlanta Village is centered around the intersection of Glenwood and Flat Shoals Avenues and is just east of downtown Atlanta.
Like Sugar Hill and Lawrenceville, Norcross is having its holiday fun early, with an event called “Red, White and Boom” on July 3.
The block party, in the heart of historic Norcross and at Lilian Webb Park, begins at 5 p.m. and will include bounce houses, face painting, food vendors and live music. Pyrotechnicians do their things after dusk.
65 Lawrenceville St. norcrossga.net
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