J.F. Gregory Park was the place to be Saturday night as thousands of Richmond Hill residents came out a few days early to observe Independence Day.
The annual free event, organized by the city, was again a place for families and neighbors to share good food, music, and fireworks and to show their patriotism by waving flags and donning red, white and blue attire.
"This is how small town America celebrates," announced Mayor Russ Carpenter, as he took to the stage to kick off the event. Flanked by Congressman Buddy Carter, and State Rep. Ron Stephens, the evening began with the playing of America the Beautiful as dozens looked on.
All three thanked our veterans and active military for keeping our country safe and free. Carter also acknowledged the work by City of Richmond Hill employees who came out early that day to set up, and would work well into the night to clean up.
Carter joked that the mayor should get some credit for providing good weather. After a brief thunderstorm earlier in the afternoon, the event stayed dry, and a noticeable breeze made conditions better than expected.
The Tams, a musical group from Atlanta, entertained the audience for hours with a mix of R&B, soul and beach music. At times, members of the group left the stage to interact with the audience, singing and dancing with willing participants.
Food trucks served different types of cuisine, and other eateries lined the inside of the pavilion to satisfy appetites.
There were plenty of activities for children. Inflatable water slides were a big hit, especially on this summer night, and pony rides, face painting and amusement rides entertained.
In the end, fireworks lit up the sky as event-goers reflected on the day, and its meaning.