MOULTRIE -- Get a jump on the Fourth of July holiday and celebrate America's birth at Reed Bingham State Park Saturday.
The lake offers fun in the sun all day with a cherry on top -- a glittering fireworks display made doubly stunning by the water's reflection.
The fireworks start after 9 p.m. "when it's good and dark," Ranger Chet Powell said. The $12,000, professional show by Pyrotecnico -- more intense this year, he said -- will be shot "dead center over the lake" from the levy on the Colquitt County side of the park and coordinated to music. Park goers can tune into Tifton radio station 92.5 FM, The Mix, for the effect.
The park offers opportunities for family fun all day long. Independence Day celebration activities start Saturday at 10 a.m. with pontoon boat rides. Boat rides also will be offered on Sunday and Monday beginning at the same time each day. Rangers take riders down the bends of the Little River and point out the various flora and fauna living there. Boat tours last from 30 to 40 minutes and cost $1 for children and $2 for adults. Park visitors can get a closer look at some of the local wildlife during a live animal program scheduled at 11 a.m., Powell said.
The campground is full and all buildings and shelters have been rented for the day, but the park offers picnic tables scattered here and there that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Anywhere around the lake will be a good view of the fireworks, he said.
Seven live bands playing contemporary Christian music will begin performing at the beach pavilion around noon until showtime. And one of the most American of all activities, a watermelon-eating contest, will commence at 5 p.m.
"It's amazing to me how many people that draws every year," Powell said.
In the evening, military jets from Moody Air Force Base will fly over in formation at 8 p.m. thanks to U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, Powell said, and more events likely will be added for the holiday.
"One of the things we want people to understand is that they're welcome to come out in their boats and in their personal watercraft, such as jet skis. It's going to be crowded. We're going to be enforcing all the safety rules, but we're going to be especially strict. There are going to be additional law enforcement people in the park from the (Department of Natural Resources). It'll be a day to have fun, but we will be emphasizing safety," Powell said, adding no alcoholic beverages are allowed inside the park.
Vendors will be on hand selling hamburgers, hot dogs and other food and drink plus other novelty items, such as glow sticks, he said.
Friends of Reed Bingham State Park have raised money to support the annual show. The park charges $5 per vehicle for entry but welcomes extra contributions for the fireworks display, Powell said. Several community businesses made large contributions to make this year's show possible, he said.
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