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Thousands celebrate
Fireworks spark record crowd
2 Fireworks pic1
Rising NASCAR star and Dawsonville native Chase Elliott watches a ball hit the target to sink him in the dunk tank Saturday night at Sparks in the Park. - photo by Michele Hester Dawson Community News

Dressed in red, white and blue, Sam Bailey and two friends squealed Saturday night as they ran through a field at Rock Creek Park.

"It's her birthday," said 5-year-old Samantha Cohen of her friend. "And it's America's birthday."

For the last three years, the trio has celebrated Bailey's birthday at the county's annual Dawson Day Sparks in the Park Independence Day fireworks extravaganza.

"We bring our picnic, cupcakes and we have a great time," said mother Amy Cohen of Dahlonega. "The kids love it."

An estimated 6,000 people attended the event, which offered a festival atmosphere, food and fun for the entire family.

Presented by the Dawson County commission and the Dawson Community News, officials said the third annual event "was even bigger and better than last year."

"Events like Sparks in the Park truly capture community spirit," said Cathy Brooks, county spokeswoman. "It's a great time for families and friends to come together."

In addition to the fireworks display, park visitors were able to take part in various activities, including dance contests and inflatables, as well as a dunk tank and rock-climbing wall.

There was also a wide variety of festival food, ranging from snow cones to barbecue.

County Manager Kevin Tanner said the free event would not be possible "without the generous support of all of our sponsors that donate both their money and time."

"I believe everyone who attended had a great time. I would like to personally thank (the sponsors) for another great year," he said.