CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC PARK’S FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION
Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. West N.W., Atlanta. 404-222-7275, http://www.centennialpark.com
When: July 4.
Where to park: Approximately 13,000 surface parking spots are within a five-minute walk. Park on the outskirts for a quick getaway. Consider MARTA and the three stations nearby (Five Points, Peachtree Center, Dome/GWCC/Philips/CNN).
Where to watch: Mark Banta, the park’s general manager, calls it “fireworks in stereo.” The display spans two blocks with blasts coming from the park and tops of buildings. Come early, bring a blanket or chair and stake a claim somewhere in the park. Spots outside the park include the deck at Stats, which will feature beer specials. The rooftop Sky Lounge at the Glenn Hotel offers a killer view and the hotel is offering a special room and party package.
Bang for the buck: Banta says it’s “more than six figures.”
How long: Begins at 9:30 p.m. and lasts approximately 30 minutes.
Finale power: More than 3,200 shells and effects.
What else: An all-day fest begins at noon with kiddie activities, including face painting and inflatables. Music cranks up around 5 p.m. beginning with R&B band 911. At 6:30 p.m. it’s country pop from Eden’s Edge. Eighties alt-pop rockers the Smithereens headline at 8 p.m.
FOURTH IN THE PARK
4 Depot St., Marietta. 770-794-5601, http://www.mariettaga.gov
When: July 3.
Where to park: The Cobb County parking deck off Waddell Street. Park at either the Roswell Street Baptist Church or the Center for Family Resources, both located on Roswell Street, and hitch a ride on the Marietta Trolley.
Where to watch: Marietta Square itself is choice, but good vantage points can be had in the parking lots of WellStar Kennestone Hospital on Church Street and Kroger on Whitlock Avenue. A primo destination is the Earl Smith Strand Theatre. Its Red Wine & Brew: Fireworks event offers dinner, a patriotic stage show and a spot on its Cobb Terrace for an almost eye-level view of the fireworks ($80; tables for eight $640).
Bang for the buck: $15,000.
How long: Begins at dark and runs approximately 25 minutes.
Finale power: 384 total shells will be used in the finale.
What else: The Marietta Freedom Parade begins at 10 a.m. Food, arts and crafts, and carnival activities take place in the square throughout the afternoon. Peachtree Station delivers Americana music at 8 p.m.
FOURTH OF JULY ON THE SQUARE
Old Courthouse Square, 101 E. Court Square, Decatur. 404-370-4100, http://www.decaturga.com
When: July 4.
Where to park: Organizers suggest the One Decatur Town Center parking deck at Church Street and E. Ponce de Leon Avenue. Keep in mind it shuts down from 6 p.m. until the fireworks are over. Go to http://www.decaturga.com for a map of parking locations. The Decatur MARTA station is steps away from the Old Courthouse Square.
Where to watch: Watching from a spot somewhere around the Old Courthouse Square puts you in the middle of the action. A spot along the sidewalk near the intersection of Commerce Drive and E. Ponce de Leon Avenue offers a good view with minimal crowds. The First Christian Church of Decatur on W. Ponce de Leon Avenue invites fireworks watchers to sit on its lawn.
Bang for the buck: Approximately $10,000.
How long: It fires off at 9:30 p.m. and lasts approximately 20 minutes.
Finale power: Organizers didn’t have the exact number of finale shells, but past productions have included plenty of repeated bursts of color.
What else: The Pied Piper Parade begins at 6 p.m. followed by a 7 p.m. concert in the Old Courthouse Square featuring the Callanwolde Concert Band.
STONE MOUNTAIN PARK’S FANTASTIC FOURTH CELEBRATION
Stone Mountain Park, 1000 Robert E. Lee Drive, Stone Mountain. 770-498-5690, http://www.stonemountainpark.com
When: July 3, 4 and 5
Where to park: Parking is $10 per vehicle. Guests will be directed where to park, but try to park close to an exit to avoid the mass exodus.
Where to watch: Record attendance is expected, so get there early and set up shop on Memorial Lawn. Find a spot for your blanket and then experience park activities and attractions. Others skip the park altogether. On July 4, gaggles of onlookers park alongside Hugh Howell Road near the entrance to Highway 78 to catch a glimpse, although it’s not the safest spot to camp. Along 78, you’ll find folks watching from parking lots. Past hot spots include the lot belonging to a former Super Target.
Bang for the buck: Park brass isn’t disclosing the budget, but we expect it’s big since they’re promoting the fact that it’s the only place in town featuring fireworks for three nights.
How long: The fireworks combined with the LaserShow Spectacular run nearly one hour.
Finale power: The Fourth of July fireworks piggyback off the LaserShow Spectacular and culminate in a patriotic grand finale. The powers that be wouldn’t release the number of shells, but fireworks come from the top and base of Stone Mountain. They’ll likely fire the mother lode.
What else: Activities are plentiful from the Sky Hike adventure course and the Scenic Railroad to the Ride the Ducks tour and mini-golf.
THE ALL AMERICAN FIREWORKS SPECTACULAR
Turner Field, 755 Hank Aaron Drive, Atlanta. 800-745-3000, http://www.braves.com
When: July 4.
Where to park: You can save money and secure a space in one of the official Turner Field lots by paying for parking in advance online (www.braves.com/parking). Parking and traffic maps are available at the Web site. The Georgia State MARTA station is within walking distance.
Where to watch: Fireworks begin after the post-game concert. At that point, fans can move to any of the seats between the right and left field foul poles for a choice view. Braves staff say the best seats may be in the upper deck, including the SkyLine seats, which start at $1, with its view of both the city skyline and the fireworks. Keep an eye out for other fireworks displays popping throughout the horizon.
Bang for the buck: The Braves wouldn’t disclose the budget, but we imagine it’s a major league investment.
How long: 15 minutes.
Finale power: Some 1,200 detonations light up the last two minutes of the show.
What else: Game tickets range from $1 to $78. The Braves take on the Florida Marlins and first pitch is at 5:05 p.m. But pregame festivities include a performance by rockers Sugar Red Drive in Fan Plaza. Just before the national anthem, 275 airmen from Moody Air Force Base will unfurl a massive American flag on the field. When the song wraps up, airmen from Vance Air Force Base will perform a fly-over. After the game, the ’70s mellow melody makers Yacht Rock Revue set sail with an on-field concert. And when dusk hits, the fireworks show begins.
LENOX SQUARE LEGENDARY FOURTH
Lenox Square, 3393 Peachtree Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-233-6767, http://www.simon.com
When: July 4.
Where to park: With the usual throngs expected, it may be worth springing for the special Premier Parking at the nearby Westin Buckhead Atlanta hotel. For $15, guests get to park close to the event and get priority departure with help from the Atlanta Police Department. A portion of the parking fees benefit the Simon Youth Foundation. Lenox Square has its own MARTA station, too.
Where to watch: The mammoth size of the show allows for good views throughout the mall property. Surrounding parking lots work, too. If you’re staying at the W Atlanta-Buckhead just steps away from Lenox, you can grab a view by the second-floor outdoor pool.
Bang for the buck: Organizers wouldn’t comment on the estimated cost.
How long: Approximately 16 minutes.
Finale power: Expect approximately 1,200 fireworks.
What else: The hub of the action is in front of the mall, where other attractions are located. The Kids Zone play area opens at noon. Motown and beach music cover band City Heat takes the stage at 6 p.m. Party on the Moon, the band that played President Barack Obama’s inauguration ball, headlines with a wide range of covers from Lady Gaga to Elvis Presley.