Red, white and blue will soon be plastered across downtown Covington as Newton County residents are gearing up for the nation’s birthday.
The annual Independence in the Park Music Fest will kick off at noon on July 4, with music, food, activities and booths from local businesses offered to residents and visitors.
Andrea Smith, a Main Street board member, said the goal was to step the event up a notch from previous years by doing more fireworks, having more vendors and getting more sponsors than ever before.
“The fun people have had in past years, they’re going to have more,” Smith said.
Taking feedback from last year, Smith said she and the rest of the Main Street board, which is organizing the event, aimed to make it more enjoyable.
To combat the heat, a water slide big enough for adults will be among bounce houses for kids. The Covington Fire Department is sponsoring a dunking booth, and city officials have agreed to be dunked. Among the notables to take their chances in the booth are Mayor Ronnie Johnston, County Commission Chair Keith Ellis, City Manager Leigh Anne Knight, Covington/Newton County Chamber of Commerce President Hunter Hall and other commissioners. There will also be a misting station.
More food vendors — and the fire department regulating them — should prevent long lines, Smith said.
Music will be going on throughout the day beginning around 2 p.m., with a scheduled 9:40 p.m. firework show and “after party” street dance until 11:30 p.m. This, Smith said, should help alleviate traffic congestion if there is no mass exodus immediately after the fireworks end.
“We tried to work at some of the challenges and take advantage of some opportunities,” Smith said.
Mystic Grill will have its rooftop bar open to offer a view of the Square and fireworks.
T.K. Adams, the long-time community band director, will be in his final performance before retirement while celebrating his 80th birthday.
“This is truly a community-sponsored event,” Smith said. “Main Street is facilitating it, but it’s really being funded by the community. This is what this nation was built on. We’re a capitalist democratic republic, and businesses come together to thrive and celebrate.”
As a mark of community involvement, General Mills is celebrating its 25th anniversary of being in Covington and partnered with Main Street for the July 4 party.
Smith said General Mills will have a large presence on the Square. Booths will be giving away free samples. The Trix Rabbit and Buzz the Bee from Honey Nut Cheerios will be roaming the Square, and the general manager will speak during the day to express his gratitude for the community, according to Smith.
“We are honored to call Covington and Newton County our home. It is with the greatest of pride and deep gratitude that we humbly support the City of Covington’s 4th of July celebration as we all come together to honor our nation,” said Mark Bible, GM plant manager.
Main Street Director Velinda Wheeles said local businesses will showcase their work at an arts and crafts area.
Although the major idea of this event is to promote Covington’s businesses and economy, Wheeles said people can bring a picnic to the Square if they want.
“I’m extremely excited. I feel like this is going to be an amazing day,” Wheeles said.
There will be designated handicapped parking available and a shuttle – most likely the Holly Trolley – to bring people to and from the parking lots.
Wheeles said this event, her first big-scale event as Covington’s Main Street director, will hopefully be an example of what the future can hold for the city and its residents.