By Trina Trice
For Clayton County residents who'd like to stay close to home while celebrating Independence Day weekend there is certainly no shortage of things to do.
Some will be traveling and Hartsfield Atlanta International Airport is braced as airlines threw on some last-minute bargains. Gas which has been going up and down in recent weeks is expected to be in plentiful supplies for those driving, and the police will be out in full force, enforcing the laws.
Tens of thousands of metro Atlanta runners will be participating in the Peachtree Road Race Friday morning or watching those running through midtown.
Residents have been stocking up on cookout supplies, and those groups planning fireworks or other events have been busy.
Atlanta Motor Speedway, for example, is having a fireworks display and a racing show Thursday, for the Adesa Atlanta Red, White and Blue Firework Spectacular night presented by 11 Alive.
Children will be able to play games, such as a coloring contest and mini-basketball on the concourse. Clowns, face painting, balloon art and a dunking tank are also featured.
For adults there are Legends, Bandolero and Roadster racing.
Fans can register for the Georgia 500 ultimate weekend package - which includes two tickets to Georgia-Pacific Qualifying Night, the Aaron's 312 Busch Series race and the Georgia 500, as well as two pre-race pit passes - and other great prizes, including ride-alongs from the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
Tickets are available at Gate 13 the night of the event and are $5 for adults, $1 for children 6-11. Children 5 and under are free. For the July 3 event only, spectators will be charged $5 to enter speedway property and park; the $5 voucher they receive for parking is redeemable for one ticket at the gate. Spectator gates open at 6 p.m. with preliminary action starting immediately. Feature racing begins at 7:30 p.m. and concludes by 10 p.m.
Contact the speedway ticket office at (770) 946-4211 for information, or visit www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
Jonesboro Masonic Lodge 87 is having its 39th annual Parade and Barbecue Friday. The parade starts at 10 a.m. near the Dairy Queen, goes up to Main Street, crosses over the Train Depot, and ends near King Street in front of the Jonesboro Masonic Lodge 87, said Jamey Powell, Masonic senior deacon.
The barbecue is from 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. A donation of $6 per plate is requested.
The Freedom VoteFest is Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Flat Shoals Park in Riverdale.
Pavilions will feature voter registration, a health fair, and social service information tables.
Entertainment will include local music talent, as well as dancers and spoken word artists.
The keynote speaker is Dr. Joseph E. Lowery of the Georgia Coalition for the People's Agenda.
The American Legion Post 258 in Jonesboro is inviting the public to a fish fry in its courtyard. A horseshoe tournament starts at 1 p.m., but the fish fry starts at 4 p.m. Cost is $5 per plate.
The Morrow Branch Library is extends the Fourth of July weekend to Tuesday when it sponsors "Patriotic Songs and the Stories Behind Them."
Starting at 7 p.m., the event features a sing-a-long of traditional patriotic songs.
Advance registration is required. The program is for adults and children ages 4 and older.
For more information, call Janice Arcuria at (770)473-3850, x231 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All federal and state and county offices, such as the Georgia Archives in Morrow and the Office of the Clayton County Board of Commissioners, are closed Friday and Saturday.
Banks are closed Friday as well as some businesses.
The Clayton County school system has been closed all week and will resume Monday.
More than 900,000 Georgia residents are expected to drive to their vacation getaways, according to AAA Auto Club South.
Because of the high volume of cars on major highways, the amount of traffic accidents is likely to increase, according to the Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles.
To ease holiday traffic woes, all scheduled and ongoing interstate construction-related lane closures across the state will be suspended until Monday.
"Suspending lane closures opens the entire interstate system to handle the expected increase in traffic that we always see on holiday weekends," said Tom Coleman, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Transportation. "This will also give our contractors and employees a weekend off with their friends and families to celebrate the anniversary of our country's independence."
The only exceptions to the suspended lane closures will be emergency maintenance work, such as a traffic accident or other unforeseen incidents.
Safety being stressed
Safety is being stressed by several state government and social service agencies for the Fourth of July weekend.
For families going to beach or spending the holiday near water, the American Red Cross offers several tips:
?If caught in a current, do not try to swim against it. Instead, swim gradually across the current until safety is reached.
?Check surf conditions, before entering the water.
?Stay within designated swimming areas.
?Never swim alone.
?Never leave a child unobserved near the water.
?Stay away from piers, pilings and diving platforms when in the water.
?Protect your skin, by limiting the amount of direct sunlight received between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and wear sunscreen.
?Drink plenty of water and wear eye and foot protection.