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Thunder from above
July Fourth celebration fills the air
Thunder in Sky pic 4
Children enrolled in Discovery Point, a Dawson County child development center, march in their own parade at the daycare, July 3. The children designed their own patriotic costumes and banners to show their pride while learning about Independence Day and why Americans celebrate the fourth day in July. - photo by Adam C. Stapleton

Hundreds of Dawson County residents celebrated Independence Day at the Dawson County High School with fireworks and entertainment Thursday.

The event, dubbed Thunder in the Sky, spent its second year at the Dawson County High School football stadium.

“A carnival-like atmosphere prevailed,” said Georgia Racing Hall of Fame President and Thunder in the Sky organizer Annie Dean Samples.

“Bobby Hardy’s Rock Climb was on hand again. Wayne’s Train, a colorful children’s train, ran continuously to everyone’s delight and Top Banana’s ice cream truck was fully decorated,” she said.

Activities for children and adults preceded the fireworks display provided by Pyrotechnico. County resident Angela Williamson sang the National Anthem, while Dawson County Boy Scout Troop 109 presented the colors.

The grandstands and surrounding hilltop were filled with spectators who watched more than $7,000 worth of fireworks launched into the air to the accompanying sound of each of America’s armed services’ anthems being played over the loud speakers.

“Many said it was the most spectacular fireworks display they had ever seen,” said Samples.

Samples said she and Thunder in the Sky sponsors are already planning on making next year’s July Fourth celebration even better.

“We were delighted to get a $3,000 pledge for next year’s event,” said Samples.

While Thunder in the Sky served as an overall county event, local childcare and development centers held their own celebrations.

Discovery Point, a Dawson County child development center, celebrated by holding a parade in the center’s parking lot.

“It was so much fun. We had a blast. I think the kids really enjoyed it because they got to go outside,” said Discovery Point Pre-K Teacher Tracy Bagley.

Bagley said children at the center learned the history and meaning behind Independence Day while making their own patriotic parade costumes and banners.

“We all dressed up. We wore crazy hats and we just walked around (the parking lot) three times and we had parents lining the parade route. They were all standing and cheering,” added Bagley.

Bagley said this was the first year Discovery Point has held a Fourth of July parade and that the center plans on doing it every year from now on.

“The parents stayed and we had a cookout afterwards. It was a lot of fun and we decided to make it an annual event,” said Bagley. “It’s very important that these children learn about America’s history and our struggle for independence. They’re the future and are going to keep those ideals alive,” she said.

E-mail Adam C. Stapleton at