ATLANTA — Picnics and campouts will be just a part of this year’s Independence Day celebrations at Georgia’s state parks and historic sites. The parks have scheduled dozens of events, ranging from sack races and bicycle parades to cannon firings and flag raisings.
Lakes, boat rentals and fishing docks will keep water-lovers happy, while children can burn off energy on playgrounds and nature trails.
Lakeside swimming beaches help park guests escape the summer heat, and admission is included in the $5 parking fee. The largest state park beach is at John Tanner, but Hard Labor Creek, Elijah Clark, Mistletoe, Indian Springs, Red Top Mountain, Tugaloo, Tallulah and many others also have sandy beaches. Swimming areas are marked, and rangers remind visitors to keep an eye on children at all times.
Swimming pools will be open for the holiday at F.D. Roosevelt, High Falls, Little Ocmulgee, Magnolia Springs and Victoria Bryant state parks. Because lifeguards are provided, a fee is charged. George T. Bagby State Park has a pool for lodge guests only, and Little Ocmulgee State Park has a "splash pad" for young visitors.
Guests who want to stay the weekend are encouraged to reserve accommodations. Camping is the most affordable "mini-vacation," but Georgia’s state parks also rent yurts, cottages and hotel-style rooms. To make reservations, call 800-864-7275 or go to www.GeorgiaStateParks.org. Check the website for weekday specials after July 4.
All state parks have picnic tables and grills available for free. Most parks have covered picnic shelters and enclosed group shelters that can be reserved for a fee. These are popular for parties and reunions, so reservations are encouraged.
Even though fireworks are a July 4 tradition, park rangers remind visitors to leave them at home. Sparklers and explosives are not allowed in Georgia’s state parks. Georgia Veterans State Park will have a fireworks show on Sunday night. Elijah Clark State Park will have fireworks Saturday, July 10.
For more information about Georgia’s 63 state parks and historic sites, go to www.GeorgiaStateParks.org or call 800-864-7275.
Below is a list of local Independence Day events:
• Cannons Across the Marsh
What: Join the garrison for a day of artillery drills, musket firings and soldier’s life activities. Free watermelon and lemonade will be served.
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Fort King George Historic Site in Darien
• Independence Day
Colonial FaireWhat: Celebrate with colonial games, contests of skill, period music, musket firings, cannon firings and activities. Prizes will be awarded to all participants. Sponsored by the city of Flemington.
When: Saturday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
Where: Fort Morris Historic Site in Midway
• Independence Day
Saturday-Sunday, July 3-4
What: Celebrate good times with a patriotic decorating contest (pets, yourself, your bikes, etc), hayrides, crafts, a greased pole climb and other challenges. Join our evening campfire.
Where: Skidaway Island State Park in Savannah
Cost: $5 parking.
• Kayak the Salt Marsh
What: Kayaking the marshes around Crooked River offers opportunities to look for birds and learn about the importance of the marsh ecosystem. Reservations are required and space is limited.
When: Sunday, 8 a.m.-11 a.m.
Where: Crooked River State Park in St. Marys
Cost: $35 single, $45 tandem. Call for family rates of 3 or more. $5 parking.
• July Fourth Celebration at Fort McAllister
What: Celebrate our nation’s birthday with Civil War troops as they fire special salutes for those who have died so we may be free. Also join the period games and a cool slice of melon. Pack a lunch and enjoy the day.
When: Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
Where: Fort McAllister Historic Park in Richmond Hill