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New events for Christmas, New Years Eve highlight downtown lineup
Covington started launching fireworks during its Christmas lighting celebration last year. Once again, this year fireworks will be shot off during the Square's lighting of the tree celebration.

When people gathered around the Newton County Historic Courthouse in downtown Covington for the lighting of the Square and Christmas tree and Santa’s return last year, they were in for a surprise.

“We wanted to do something special for the community and we saw everyone loved fireworks — so that was a surprise,” said Velinda Hardy, Main Street Director. “We thought we would do it again, especially to highlight that we are getting new 28-foot tree with multicolored lights.”

To cover the expense of the fireworks, Robert Foxworth appeared before the Covington City Council on Monday night to request $5,000 for Christmas fireworks.

Foxworth has been producing fireworks shows and raising money for the Fourth of July displays in Newton County for eight years, including the last four in Covington. The former Porterdale City Councilman, who moved to Newton County from Texas in 1987, produced two shows in Porterdale before taking his efforts to Covington in 2012 after then Covington City Manager Steve Horton approached him about doing a show near the Square.

For 2017, Foxworth told the council he wants to spend $42,000 for a shorter, more spectacular event for Independence on the Square.

Though the city budgets $20,000 to pay for fireworks, Foxworth has been successful in gathering donations to cover most of the displays. However, each year, the city is “on the hook” for the total amount contracted for, according to Mayor Ronnie Johnston, speaking during the council meeting.

“Are we willing to guarantee up to $42,000, we’re on the hook for $42,000. Historically, we have never had to make that up,” he said.

“I’ve never let you all down, and I won’t this year, either,” said Foxworth.

After discussing fireworks for July 4, the council unanimously approved spending the $5,000 for fireworks during the Square’s Christmas celebration.

More than fireworks

That celebration is in a little more than a month when Santa will return to Covington to light the new tree on Thursday, Nov. 17, with activities starting at 5:30 p.m. and ending at 8:30 p.m.

“We’ll have entertainment throughout the evening,” Hardy said. “It’s also the night for our Christmas open house in the shops, and we’ll have carriage rides, and Santa will arrive and lights the tree. He’ll go to Santa house and be there for kids to visit.”

Other additions to the celebrations will be pony rides, carriage rides and a live Nativity on the Square on Sunday, Dec. 11. There will also be a gingerbread house contest for different age groups.

Fireworks are also being planned for New Year’s Eve. Hardy said on Saturday, Dec. 31, beginning at 5 p.m., the band Blue Denim will perform on the stage across from Scoops Ice Cream Parlor. At 9:30 p.m., the band Accent will perform until 12:30 a.m. on a stage outside the Newton County Historic Courthouse.

“It’s going to be a fun night,” Hardy said. “We’ll have a mini countdown after the first band [finished at 9 p.m.] so little children can take part.

“We’re encouraging people to dine at one of our downtown restaurants or get some takeout and set up at the park, enjoy the music, hang out with friends and bring in 2017,” she said.