By Joel Hall
The City of Morrow will celebrate America's independence one week early during its "SummerFest on the Green," this Saturday, from 6 p.m., to 10 p.m., at 5917 Reynolds Road.
The annual, patriotic celebration will feature carnival rides, musical entertainment, and one of the largest fireworks displays in the Southern Crescent.
According to Mike Twomey, president and executive director of the Morrow Business and Tourism Association, this year will represent SummerFest's 20th anniversary. New this year, he said, will be: "Gorilligan's Island," an inflatable maze for children; "The Spyder," a rotating carnival ride; and musical performances by Marion Deaton and The Smooth Willie Show Band, a Las Vegas-based Willie Nelson-tribute band, and Sensations Sounds of Motown, a six-piece, beach music and soul ensemble from Athens, Ga.
"The entertainment this year is really great," Twomey said. "It really covers all the bases. [Marion Deaton] looks and sounds just like Willie Nelson. In Vegas, he gets great reviews. Sensations Sounds of Motown ... they have a following that follows them all throughout the state.
"About 4,500 people are expected to attend," he said. "We grew very quickly, because, just four years ago, we only had 600 to 800 people. When we started bringing in top bands, we really started getting a lot of people."
According to Twomey, visitors to the event will also be able to enjoy hot air balloon rides, moonwalks for children, and offerings from 25 local businesses and vendors, including Costco, Wal-Mart, Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury and Heritage Cadillac Saab. The event will conclude with a 15-minute fireworks display, starting at 10 p.m.
Morrow City Manager John Lampl described SummerFest as one of the city's "premiere events." He said some families come from as far away as Florida to see the annual fireworks display.
"When that fireworks display goes off ... there is something about that location and that field that adds an additional level to the impact and how it feels," Lampl said. "It's really a sight to see. What we try to do is do this one a little bit before the fourth [of July]. That way, it is a day that you can set aside for your family, but you can go out of town, if you need to. You can set up a real tradition.
"I think this year, more than most, that people understand that it is a patriotic holiday," he added. "We still have a lot of people over in Iraq and Afghanistan and we need to make sure they understand that we appreciate what they are doing for us."
SummerFest on the Green will take place, rain or shine, at 5917 Reynolds Road, near Reynolds Nature Preserve. Admission is free to the public. Visitors are encouraged to bring upright lawn chairs or blankets to view the fireworks display. For more information, call (770) 968-1623, or visit www.morrowtourism.com.