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Freedom, fireworks light up Covington

Thousands of people may have been awed by the sight of colorful fireworks exploding above Covington’s Historic Courthouse clock tower, but Covington’s Independence in the Park festival organizers were definitely in awe of how the event seemed to go off without a hitch Friday.

Covington Police Captain Craig Treadwell, who reported no major events associated with the festival, or the Fourth of July celebrations in Covington on the whole, said he thought there were around 8,000-10,000 on the Square.

Those visitors were able to hear live music throughout the day on two stages and enjoy food from booths manned by Covington restaurants such as Bradley’s BBQ, Bread and Butter Bakery, Scoops, RL’s and more. There was also a kids zone with water slides, rock climbing wall, face painting booth and other options for youth entertainment.

Those food and entertainment options were made a reality after months of planning by Covington’ Main Street department. That planning started even before Main Street director Velinda Wheeles was hired in May, thanks to the contributions of Main Street board member Andrea Smith and Main Street intern Brittany Jacobson.

“I had not been hired yet and (Smith) said we have to get started — she took it and went with it,” Wheeles said.

“That was a team effort. They say it takes a village … I’ll tell you what, this village is awesome.”

Wheeles said she will soon start to come up with ideas for next year’s Fourth of July festival to make it an even more successful event than Friday.

“I saw him that night, and the mayor (Ronnie Johnston) said to me, you set the bar,” Wheeles said. “I said it wasn’t me, this was a team of folks.”

The streets around the Square were teaming with folks throughout Friday, and thanks to a combined effort from the Covington Fire and Police departments, there were no incidents reported.

“Our safety department — our police, our fire, all city employees … I’ve never seen group of people come together and support something like they did yesterday. I’ve never seen the dedication of the officers that go behind the scenes to guarantee safety for everyone. Hands down they’re the best people I’ve ever worked with through a Main Street program.”