Independence Day is right around the corner, which means barbecues, block parties and fireworks. However, this Fourth of July is one of the first national holidays since COVID restrictions have loosened. These looser restrictions are accompanied by larger gatherings, as the cities of Braselton and Sugar Hill will be hosting public Independence Day celebrations for area residents to enjoy.

The city of Sugar Hill will host Sparks in the Park starting at approximately 6 p.m. and ending about 10 p.m. Saturday, July 3, at E.E. Robinson Park. Event-goers can expect a large fireworks display and live music from Electric Avenue, an ’80s cover band that performs new wave and pop tunes. For those who are unable to attend the celebration, the city will livestream the fireworks show via Facebook Live. 

This year’s celebration will look a little different from years past, however, to ensure the safety of guests and crew members. There will be no shuttles or food trucks to reduce crowds, and there will be additional restrooms, sanitation stations and cleaning crew members to keep the event clean and safe. Event planners have dedicated their efforts to ensuring that the event is safe for all. 

“The city of Sugar Hill is committed to our community and aims to keep health and safety as our top priority,” said Victoria Richburg, the city’s communications coordinator. 

Sugar Hill Officials are happy to host this year’s event, especially since the 2020 Sparks in the Park was cancelled due to COVID.

“Hosting the event this year means we are hopefully optimistic about people being able to return to gathering in our community,” Richburg said. “The Sparks in the Park event is an annual staple in Sugar Hill’s event lineup, and we are excited to create a place for our residents to make memories together.

The city of Braselton will host its Celebrate Braselton event throughout the day on Sunday, July 4. The town and several downtown businesses have organized an entire day of activities, ranging from an outdoor artisan market and a free concert to a downtown parade and a large fireworks show. Downtown restaurants will serve lunch and dinner to event-goers, and there will be food trucks on the town green starting at 5 p.m. The patriotic parade will begin at 6 p.m., and it will include local participants, including Shriners, pageant queens, decorated classic cars and Jackson County High School cheerleaders. Additionally, GlowBand will perform a variety of hit songs from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

The main priority for Braselton event planners this year is to spread out the activities to accommodate space for social distancing. This will mainly be done by encouraging parking at nearby Free Chapel and Braselton Tech Center, both within walking distance of the town green. The town will also run two trolleys in a continuous loop during the event to transport people from parking lots to the town. Last year’s event was postponed due to COVID, and it featured a reverse parade, allowing residents of the town to view classic cars, performers and more from the safety of their own cars, but the event just wasn’t the same as years past. 

“The town of Braselton has hosted fireworks on the Fourth of July for at least 20 years,” said Braselton Tourism Director Nikki Perry. “It’s a family tradition that we are happy to bring back in 2021.”

The pandemic was a difficult time for all, but celebrations like these prove there are things to be optimistic about as the world returns to normal. One thing is for sure, throughout all that has happened, COVID could not take away the patriotism in this country, as Gwinnett residents look forward to celebrating their freedoms this Independence Day.

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