COVINGTON, Ga. – With the thousands of guests descending on the City of Covington for the annual Stars and Stripes Fest Independence Day celebration, City of Covington officials are releasing important information for anyone planning on enjoying one of the south’s best fireworks displays.
When does the event start and what activities are planned?
Featuring a full slate of entertainment, shopping and activities, the event officially kicks off at 3 p.m. on July 4. DJ ‘Kid Tree’ will provide tunes until the golf cart parade starts at 4 p.m. and at 5 p.m. local musician Hannah Thomas will take the stage. At 6 p.m., Covington’s own Community Band will perform crowd favorites and at 7 p.m. the action heats up as legendary band Drive Time plays hits from artists spanning several decades. The headlining band A1A is set to perform at 8 p.m. and will entertain the crowd with countless Jimmy Buffett classics like “Cheeseburger in Paradise” and “Margaritaville.”
The event reaches a fever pitch at 9:45 p.m. when one of the south’s largest fireworks displays illuminates the night sky.
In addition to the one-of-a-kind retail stores surrounding the Covington Square, a full card of vendors will also be on-site offering everything from clothes to hot sauce to dog treats. The vendor midway is located at the intersection of Clark and Pace Streets. Food vendors will also be available to offer even more dining choices than already exist around the Square. Food vendors are located at the intersection of Washington and Church Streets.
Inflatable bounce houses, a video game truck, rides in a City of Covington bucket truck and countless more activities will be available throughout the day.
Where can I park? What about ADA Compliant parking?
Parking is available in any public parking lot, the parking deck off Elm Street and on-street parking where typically allowed. Parking in public lots is left to the discretion of the owners of those lots. ADA compliant parking is available in the BB&T Bank parking lot on Clark Street. Golf carts will not be allowed on the Square following the golf cart parade.
A courtesy shuttle will begin running at 2 p.m. from the Synovus Bank in Newton Plaza and golf cart shuttles will be patrolling the north and south side of the square ready to assist event-goers as well.
What if I have an issue once I am at the event?
Countless Covington police, firefighters and employees will be visible for the duration of the event. Help areas will be located on each corner of the Square and a command post will be located indoors at the corner of Clark and Washington Streets.
Just how big is the fireworks show?
According to Friends of Covington Fireworks, LLC Chairman Robert Foxworth, the “show is going to last 19 minutes and contains approximately 2,000 rounds shot through 800 tubes. There are actually three different displays shot from three different locations that combine to make one massive show.”
Juri Van Der Heijden, a sub-contractor for Pyrotecnico, said the show for the 2018 edition of Stars and Stripes Fest has been in various planning stages since November 2017.
“There is a team of about 10 of us that have been working for months to plan for this show, but the real work comes during set up,”, but the real work comes during set up,” Van Der Heijden said. “It takes approximately one hour to set up one minute of the show, so that means we will start setting up Sunday for the show on Wednesday. Additionally, the show is shot with a digital pyromate computer system that choreographs the explosion of a shell with music. In my honest opinion, this will be the best fireworks show Covington has ever seen.”
What about traffic leaving the event?
For the 2017 edition of Stars and Stripes Fest, city officials implemented Operation Red, White and Go!, a traffic masterplan designed to alleviate vehicular congestion for those leaving the event.
“Last year, the Operation Red, White and Go! traffic plan did exactly what it was intended to do and helped ease traffic congestion,” said City Manager Leigh Anne Knight. “Like everything we do, we discussed the successes and possible points of improvement of the plan and made some minor changes for this year’s version. We are confident everyone attending will see an improvement in post-event traffic flow this year.”
Featuring traffic alterations for the majority of the city, Operation Red, White and Go! is designed to make traffic egress as expeditious as possible and lane closures will begin to go into effect at 8:15 p.m. on July 4. Everyone is encouraged to be in place before the traffic plan goes into effect. Spectators should note that how they traveled to their destination may be different from the route they are directed to for their travel back home. Below are highlights from the plan, which can be viewed in its entirety at www.cityofcovington.org.
Access Road at Turner Lake Road
Traffic will not be allowed to travel east on Highway 278 from this intersection. All traffic will have to turn onto I-20 West or turn south on Turner Lake Road or continue west on the access road. Traffic heading west upon entering this intersection may turn in any direction.
West Street at Highway 278
Traffic will not be allowed to travel east on Highway 278 from this intersection. All traffic will travel west towards I-20.
Emory Street at Highway 278
Traffic traveling west on Highway 278 will be allowed to turn onto Emory Street, northbound. Traffic traveling south on Emory Street will be directed west on Highway 278.
If exiting from Newton Plaza (with the exception of the far-east entrance/exit), vehicles will travel westbound only. If exiting the far-east entrance/exit (near Dunkin’ Donuts) traffic will be directed east on Highway 278 then north on Alcovy Rd. The center turn lane will also be a westbound lane, creating three lanes of travel on Highway 278.
Pace Street at Highway 278
All traffic traveling north from the Square and surrounding area will turn west on Highway 278. No traffic will travel east on Highway 278. All five traffic lanes will travel west towards I-20.
Elm Street at Highway 278
Motorists traveling westbound on Highway 278 prior to the Elm Street intersection must turn north onto Elm Street / Alcovy Road. Northbound traffic on Elm Street prior to the Highway 278 intersection must turn eastbound on Highway 278. Traffic will not be allowed to turn back towards the Covington Square.
Mill Street at Highway 278
Traffic will not be allowed to travel south on Mill Street.
Floyd Street at Highway 278
Traffic will not be allowed to travel west on Floyd Street. All traffic traveling east upon entering Highway 278 must travel east towards the Highway 142 bypass.
Highway 278 and Highway 142 Intersection
Motorists traveling westbound on Highway 278 will not be allowed to travel past the Highway 142 intersection and must turn north on Highway 142. Those traveling south on Highway 142 will not be able to turn westbound on Highway 278 and those traveling north on Highway 142 must continue traveling north or turn east on Highway 278.
All traffic will travel north on Alcovy Road. Traffic will not be permitted to travel south on Alcovy Road past the I-20 eastbound ramp.
Traffic will not be permitted to travel north on Washington Street past Flat Shoals Road. All traffic will flow south on Washington Street.