The Independence Day Extravaganza hosted by the Jones County/Gray Chamber of Commerce was held on June 25 at the Highway 18 Recreation Complex, showing off the unity of the county while social distancing.
Haley Watson, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, said the event was a lot of fun for families to celebrate Independence Day, and she can’t wait to do the event all over again next year.
“This is a celebration of Independence Day, and we wanted to do it the week before July 4 because we wanted to get as many people from Jones County attending as possible before they go out of town,” she said. “It started off last year as a family networking night.”
The executive director said she wasn’t sure they were even going to be able to have the event due to COVID-19, but they found out earlier in June they would be able to.
She said, as last year, the City of Gray, Jones County Commissioners, the Chamber of Commerce and MainStreet Gray pulled together to make the event happen. She said, due to COVID-19, they have had to make changes to the event.
“This is just a nice time to celebrate our Independence with your family,” Watson said. “People had the choice of social-distancing by watching the fireworks from their vehicles, or spreading out among the fields with lounge chairs. We encouraged social-distancing, but it wasn’t enforced.”
She said there were no food trucks this year, but the concession stand was open for people to grab a bite to eat. She said the bounce houses they had last year couldn’t be implemented due to COVID-19, but they had music played by Heath Peacock and a huge firework display after sunset.
The executive director said people could also buy family packs to bring with them to the Independence Day Extravaganza from local restaurants, such as Zaxby’s and Chevy’s Pizza.
“Before last year, we’d never had fireworks before, but our surrounding counties did, so we felt Jones County should do something like this. With things as they are now, we should do things to say we are all united and together,” she said.
Watson said the Independence Day Extravaganza gave people an opportunity to get out of their homes. She said it was a chance for Jones Countians to slow down and enjoy some family time.
“I like music and I like to dance, but I especially love fireworks,” she said. “I love watching the children be amazed at the fireworks. This is just a great time for everyone to relax and enjoy being together while social-distancing.”