Thousands attend Albany's Annual Fourth of July celebration
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -
The city of Albany hosted one of it's biggest Fourth of July celebrations ever.
Thousands of people came to downtown Albany's Riverfront to watch the firework show on Tuesday night as well as the concerts.
It's been about six months since the two January storms devastated the communities.
But on this Independence Day, the people of Albany and many other South Georgia towns came together to celebrate their freedom.
After a recent rash of violence in the city, Albany Police Department beefed up there security at the annual event.
The mere sight of police officers riding on ATV's made many attendees feel much safer.
"Looks like the chief has his hands on the pulse of Albany and he's trying to listen to the citizens with the more police awareness," said Jazzy Q's Mobile Cafe owner Bennie Russell.
Russell said the strong police presence made many of his customers feel welcome.
"They're enjoying as they come by my venue they're telling me how much they enjoy that they have a nice place to go and they feel real safe," remarked Russell.
Dozens of officers were in uniform and plain clothes monitoring the festivities.
"We will be here until everyone leaves including the vendors so throughout the event itself it's going to be a real safe environment," explained APD's Lt. William Dowdell.
Folks like Dana Maples brought her two kids for the first time after moving back to Albany.
"I noticed them around and me and the kids feel really safe coming down here," said Maples.
Even for attendees who parked at the Civic Center, given what happened at the last major concert when dozens of cars were broken into.
"It makes it easier for us to be able to enjoy the festivities out here today so feel safe just knowing I don't have to be worried about if someone is going to break into my car," said Sophia Newberry, and for attendees to sit back enjoy what the holiday is really about and of course the fireworks.
Officers were scattered all around downtown Albany including a security detail at the Civic Center to try to prevent car break ins.
City leaders said the event would bring a large boost to the local economy.
Parks and Recreation staff said there were about 12 vendors and merchants participating this year.
Many of them were selling festival favorites ranging from BBQ, corn dogs, funnel cakes and snow cones.
One vendor from Poulan has attended the event for the past 12 years.
This year was a special one for Lela Giddens given the destructive January storms.
"Albany has been hit hard and there's a lot of folks that are struggling and if they can get an opportunity to come out here and maybe take some worries off their mind for a few hours because Albany has gone through a lot this year," said Giddens.
Most of the vendors are local to Southwest Georgia.