Jul. 2—AUGUSTA — Independence Day festivities got an early start with help from Fort Gordon this year, as the Army installation had a celebration Thursday evening and had thousands of visitors accept an invitation for a free evening of fireworks and music.
The musical acts on stage this year had a country flavor, with the Brothers Osborne as the headliners as the first of three Nashville-based groups. The opening act was Runaway June, followed by Lanco.
"It was good except for the rain," in the words of Cindy Pinion, who was visiting from North Augusta and confirmed that her appearances at the annual event are usually marked by a risk of precipitation.
A press release from Fort Gordon noted that the three acts had been on the schedule for an unusually long time — prior to the 2020 event being canceled due to COVID-19 precautions.
"These are all the same entertainment artists that we scheduled for last year, and so they were under contract with us already, and they were gracious enough to let us extend the date," said Danielle Hayes, a special events coordinator at the installation, as quoted in the press release.
The celebration, in keeping with tradition, had a kiddie carnival and dozens of "fair food" options, and also had fireworks as the grand finale. This year's blast ran about 18 minutes and was set to music. Rockets made their visual statements with a soundtrack including a little local flavor: James Brown's "Living in America."
Joining the musical salute were such selections as "God Bless the U.S.A.," Pink Houses," "Born in the U.S.A.," "Amazing Grace" (on bagpipes), the Pledge of Allegiance (recorded by John Wayne), "Birthday" and, to wrap up the show, "Stars and Stripes Forever," with the final flourish at 10:22 p.m., helping trigger a mass migration toward the installation's exits.
The event is a project of the Army installation's "Fort Gordon Morale, Welfare and recreation Office, with radio station WKXC (Kicks 99) as the major sponsor. Among other major boosters were ForcesUnited, Augusta Coca-Cola, Yancey Rents, Domino's, USAA, Savannah River Brewing Company and Bailey's Heating and Air Conditioning.
Aiken County offers at least one large fireworks show taking place Sunday, as the Augusta GreenJackets have a 6:35 p.m. game versus the Columbia Fireflies to be held in SRP Park, in North Augusta, and post-game fireworks are to be a part of the package.