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'Mermaids' swim with sharks in South Carolina Aquarium

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Most people have been to an aquarium by the time they're in middle school.

But you've probably never seen an attraction like the one that's soon to be at the South Carolina Aquarium in Charleston.

The World-Famous Weeki Wachee Mermaids will entertain guests at the aquarium March 28 through April 3.

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Hailing from Spring Hill, Florida, the mermaids swim among hundreds of animals, including fish, manatees and 8-foot-long sharks.

During each show, the mermaids delight guests with a highly technical and choreographed routine to musical numbers.

The mermaids travel nationwide, but they usually perform at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park in Florida.

At the upcoming exhibit at the South Carolina Aquarium, a limited number of guests will be able to experience a special date night event, Mermaids & Me, designed for all ages and featuring an exclusive mermaid performance in the aquarium's Great Ocean Tank. Each attendee will have the opportunity to meet and take a photo with a friendly mermaid on the land.

A mermaid kiss. #mermaniaPosted by South Carolina Aquarium on Friday, March 27, 2015

Posted by Weeki Wachee Springs on Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Atlanta Area July 4th Fireworks

Fireworks will light up the sky all over metro Atlanta on July 4th!  Below is your guide to some of the best shows and events around town, with something for everybody - and something near everybody. Most are free.

City of Atlanta:

4th of July at Centennial Olympic Park: Gates open at 6pm. July 4. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9pm. Free. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. NW, Atlanta, GA 30313. www.centennialpark.com.

Channel 2’s “Georgia Salutes America” program and fireworks from Centennial Olympic Park will air on WSB-TV.

There will be live music at the event, artist names to be released soon, and the finale of the evening is Centennial Olympic Park’s Fireworks Spectacular, fireworks synchronized to patriotic music.

A list of prohibited items in the park can be found on the Centennial website: www.centennialpark.com.

Atlanta Journal Constitution Peachtree Road Race: One of the premier Fourth of July traditions, this 6.2 mile race kicks off Independence Day celebrations with about 60,000 people running and walking through the streets. Even if you don’t have a race number, be one of the 150,000 spectators cheering on the participants from the sidelines. http://www.ajc.com/s/peachtree/#race-info

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies: Cheer on the Braves at Turner Field and then stay after for a firework celebration of Independence Day choreographed to patriotic music. 7:10. July 4th. Turner Field, 755 Hank Aaron Dr Atlanta, GA 30302. 800-745-3000, www.braves.com.

Georgia Aquarium’s Red, White & Brew: Celebrate Fourth of July with dinner, drinks and a view of Centennial Olympic Park’s firework show atop the Georgia Aquarium’s roof. 7-10 pm, fireworks starting at approximately 9:40pm. $55 ($45 for members), 21 and older only. 225 Baker Street NW, Atlanta GA 30313. 404-581-4000. www.georgiaaquarium.org.

Lenox Square 4th of July: Shops & Restaurants open 10am-6pm. Musical Entertainment starts at 6pm. Fireworks scheduled to being at 9:40pm. July 4th. Free. 3393 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30326. 404-233-6767. http://www.simon.com/mall/lenox-square.

Whiskey Blue Fourth of July Extravaganza: Celebrate the fourth on the rooftop of the W Atlanta- Buckhead. Enjoy Whiskey Blue’s signature cocktails, gourmet bites, sounds of Dj Rimby and take in the Southeast’s largest fireworks display at Lenox Square. Tickets start at $25. July 4. W Atlanta Buckhead, 3377 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta GA 30326, www.whiskeyblue.xorbia.com.

Other Area Events: 

Acworth’s Fourth of July Celebration: Live music starts at 4pm. Concerts begin at 5:30pm. Fireworks at dusk (9:30pm). Free. http://www.acworth.com/fourth-of-july-celebration/.

Allatoona Yacht Club Fireworks Celebration: July 3rd at sunset. Boat access only in front of the Altoona Yacht clu, with fireworks visible from many coves adjacent to area. Free. Allatoona Yacht Club, 176 Websters Overlook Dr SE, Cartersville, GA 30121.

Alpharetta’s July 4th Festivities and Fireworks: Celebrate independence Day with family and friends at Wills Park. Free. Entertainment and children’s activities begin at 6pm, behind the Alpharetta Community Center. Fireworks begin at dusk. Wills Park, 1825 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta, 678-297-6130, www.alpharetta.ga.us.

Athens Independence Day Celebration: July 4. 4-10pm, an evening of festivities with fireworks beginning at dusk at the Georgia Square Mall.

Auburn July 4 Festivities and Fireworks: 5-11pm. July 4. Downtown Auburn, 1369 4th Ave Auburn, Ga 30011, cityofauburn-ga.org.

Austell- Six Flags Over Georgia Coca-Cola July 4th Fest: July 3-5. Thrilling rides and attractions, fun games and a fireworks show. Guests, who arrive with a Coca-Cola can, will be admitted to the park an hour early. Fireworks begin at 9:30pm on all three nights.

Braselton Fourth of July Festival, Parade & 5K: Star Spangled 4th of July 5/ Fun Run at 8am (walk begins at 8:15am. Celebration continues with a Festival from 4-9pm, Parade at 6pm, and Fireworks at Dusk. Braselton Park – www.braselton.net.

Buford - Lake Lanier- Lanier World, July 3rd, 4th, and 5th from 3-7pm. Enjoy the day with rides, slides, and live entertainment. Fireworks will begin after dark at Sunset Cove. 7000 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford GA 30518, www.lanierislands.com.

Buford- Mall of Georgia’s 13th annual Star Spangled Fourth: Kids zone opens at 5pm July 4 for games, free concerts in the Village Amphitheater also begin at 5pm. Fireworks begin at dusk (approximately 9:35pm). Post- fireworks screening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1” (rated PG-13). Free.  Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Dr, Buford GA, 678-482-8788, www.mallofgeorgia.com.

Canton Fireworks and Festival- 4-7pm July 4 live music, followed by a parade from 7-8pm. Fireworks at dusk behind Riverstone. Riverstone Blv, Canton GA 30114. www.localendar.com.

Cartersville- Stars, Stripes & Cartersville Fourth of July Celebration- July 4. Parade at 9am on Main Street. Concert from 8-9:30pm followed by fireworks at Dellinger Park. $2 per car parking fee. 100 Pine Grove Rd, Cartersville GA 30120, http://www.visitcartersvillega.org.

Clayton County, 4th of July at the Beach- July 4, Event from 10am-7pm. Fireworks following at dusk. Admission is $9 for children, $11 for adults. The Beach at International Park, 2300 Highway 138, Jonesboro GA 30236, www.claytonparks.com.

Chamblee Fourth of July Celebration- 5-10pm, July 4. Free. Keswick Park, 3496 Keswick Dr, Chamblee GA 30341, 770-986-5016, www.chambleega.com.

Covington- Independence in the Park, 6pm July 4. Downtown Covington Square, 770-385-2077, www.downtownconvington.org.

Cumming’s July Fourth Celebration- Fireworks July 3rd at 9:30pm at the Cumming Fairgrounds, 235 Castleberry Road, Cumming GA 30040. Steam Engine Parade July 4th at 10:00 a.m. - downtown square. www.cummingfair.net.

Dahlonega- July 4. Independence Day Parade through historic square at 5pm, ending at drill field of University of North Georgia where fireworks show will be held at dusk. www.dahlonega.org.

Dalton- no information at this time

Decatur’s July 4th Pied piper Parade- decorate your wagon, ride your bike, skate or walk in this event. Begins at 6pm and ends at Community bandstand where a concert starts at 7pm. Fireworks begin at dark (approximately 9pm). Free. 404-371-8386, www.visitdecaturgeorgia.com.

Douglasville- July 4th Celebration -July 4th. Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. Fireworks will start at dusk. Fireworks can be viewed from Arbor Place mall front parking lot. http://douglasvillecalendar.com/.

Duluth Celebrates America- July 3rd Celebration, Duluth Town Green, 6-9pm, www.duluth-ga.com.

East Point Hometown Celebration- July 4, 3-11pm Carnival, fireworks at 9:30pm. 2757 Main Street, East Point GA 30344 across from East Point MARTA station. 404-270-7059, www.downtowneastpoint.com.

Ellijay, 4th of July Star Spangled Beach Party- Celebration on July 4. Parade at 6pm, fireworks at dusk. http://www.gilmerchamber.com/4th-of-july-star-spangled-beach-party-in-downtown-ellijay/.

Flowery Branch- Sterling on the Lake- July 5 celebration, 4pm with food, drinks and a live 80s band. Fireworks display at dusk. $20 per car for non-residents. 7005 Lake Sterling Blvd, (770) 965-3980, www.sterlingonthelake.com.

Gwinnett County- Gwinnett Braves v Charlotte Knights- Saturday July 4. Fireworks extravaganza immediately after game. www.gwinnettbraves.com.

Hampton- Friday Night Drags & Show-n-Shine Fireworks Night at AMS- Event from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1500 N. U.S. 41, Hampton. 770-946-4211, www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

Heard County- A Chattahoochee Independence Day Celebration- July 4, 5pm- 12am. Food, Fun, Music, and fireworks at dusk. Court Square, Franklin GA. www.heardchamber.com.

Helen-Fireworks planned for Friday July 4th 9:30 p.m., behind the Alpine Village Shoppes. www.helenga.org

Henry County Fireworks Extravaganza- festivities begin at 2pm with live music, car shows, raffles, food, and more. Fireworks display after dark at 9:30pm. 100 Babbs Mill Rd, Hampton GA, 678-432-4399, www.hcfireworks.com.

Kennesaw’s pre-Independence Day Salute to America- July 3rd, concert at 6pm, fireworks at 9:30pm. Free. Downtown Kennesaw, 2828 Cherokee St, Kennesaw GA 30144. 770-422-9714, www.kennesaw.com.

Lawrenceville- Prelude to the Fourth- July 3rd, 7-10pm. Lawrenceville’s renowned Aurora Theatre will perform a Broadway Musical, followed by a dazzling fireworks display after dark. 210 Luckie St, Lawrenceville Ga 30046, www.lawrencevillega.org.

Lilburn-Sparkle in the Park- City park will be lit up with fireworks and have live music, GLOW the Show band. 5:30-10pm, July 4. 76 Main St, Lilburn Ga 30047, www.cityoflilburn.com.

Marietta- Fourth in the Park- Day-long celebration, July 4th 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Glover Park on the Marietta Square, www.mariettaga.gov.

Monroe- Freedom Fest- July 4th. Event begins at 5:00 p.m. at Athens Tech Campus, 121 Blaine Street. Fireworks after dark. www.monroedowntown.com.

Newnan- Fourth of July Parade and Rotary Celebration- 4th of July parade at 9am at Main Street. Fireworks celebration- Drake Stadium, gates open at 5:30. www.ci.newnan.ga.us.

Norcross- Red, White & Boom! Pre-Fourth Celebration- 3p.m. block party. Live music at 6 p.m. Fireworks at dusk. July 3rd. Free. Lillian Webb Park, 5 College St., Norcross GA 30071. 678-421-2000, www.norcrossga.net.  

Peachtree City- July 4th Parade, begins at 9am on Peachtree Parkway at Braelinn Golf Course. 4th Fest 5 pm- 9 pm at City Hall Plaza. Fireworks 9 pm-10pm Drake Field. www.peachtree-city.org.

Roswell- Fourth in the Park Celebration- 10am Freedom Parade, followed by a festival in Marietta Square (10am-9pm). Fireworks after dark. Free. Marietta Square, 4 Depot St Ne, Marietta GA 30060. www.roswellgov.com.

Sandy Springs- Independence Day Parade & Fireworks Display- Parade on July 4, 9am. Fireworks on July 5, festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. with the fireworks beginning at 9:45 p.m. The spectator area is located at the Concourse Corporate Center Lawn. www.sandyspringsga.gov.

Snellville- Star-Spangled Snellville- Independence Day Celebration on the Towne Green. July 4th starting at 3 pm. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. www.snellvillepride.com.

Stone Mountain- Fantastic Fourth Celebration- Enjoy the Lasershow Spectacular, followed by a fireworks July 3-5 on the lawn. Begins at dusk. $10 daily parking pass or $35 for annual parking permit, U.S. 78 E., Stone Mountain. www.stonemountainpark.com.

Sugar Hill- Sparks in the Park- July 3, music performances beginning at 6pm. Fireworks starting at 9pm. E.E. Robinson Park. www.cityofsurgarhill.com.

Tallapoosa- Fourth of July Celebration- Parade downtown starting at Veterans Memorial Park. Food entertainment and fireworks at Helton Howland Park.  www.visitharalson.org.

Villa Rica Fireworks Extravaganza- July 3, 5pm, Free. The Villa Rica Civic Center and Sports Complex, 1605 Highway 61, Villa Rica GA 30180. www.villaricaparks.com

Woodstock’s Stars and Strikes July 4th Spectacular- 7:30 am Freedom Run. Parade at 10am starting at Woodstock Elementary School. Festival at 3pm in the Park at City Center. Fireworks after dusk behind the Target shopping center (HWY 92 and I-575). www.woodstockga.gov.

North Georgia July 4th Fireworks

Fireworks will light up the sky all over Georgia on July 4th!  Below is your guide to some of the best shows and events, with something for everybody - and something near everybody. Most are free.

Acworth’s Fourth of July Celebration: Live music starts at 4pm. Concerts begin at 5:30pm. Fireworks at dusk (9:30pm). Free. http://www.acworth.com/fourth-of-july-celebration/.

Allatoona Yacht Club Fireworks Celebration: July 3rd at sunset. Boat access only in front of the Altoona Yacht clu, with fireworks visible from many coves adjacent to area. Free. Allatoona Yacht Club, 176 Websters Overlook Dr SE, Cartersville, GA 30121.

Alpharetta’s July 4th Festivities and Fireworks: Celebrate independence Day with family and friends at Wills Park. Free. Entertainment and children’s activities begin at 6pm, behind the Alpharetta Community Center. Fireworks begin at dusk. Wills Park, 1825 Old Milton Parkway, Alpharetta, 678-297-6130, www.alpharetta.ga.us.

Athens Independence Day Celebration: July 4. 4-10pm, an evening of festivities with fireworks beginning at dusk at the Georgia Square Mall.

City of Atlanta:

4th of July at Centennial Olympic Park: Gates open at 6pm. July 4. Fireworks are scheduled to begin at 9pm. Free. Centennial Olympic Park, 265 Park Ave. NW, Atlanta, GA 30313. www.centennialpark.com.

Channel 2’s “Georgia Salutes America” program and fireworks from Centennial Olympic Park will air on WSB-TV.

There will be live music at the event, artist names to be released soon, and the finale of the evening is Centennial Olympic Park’s Fireworks Spectacular, fireworks synchronized to patriotic music.

A list of prohibited items in the park can be found on the Centennial website: www.centennialpark.com.

Atlanta Journal Constitution Peachtree Road Race: One of the premier Fourth of July traditions, this 6.2 mile race kicks off Independence Day celebrations with about 60,000 people running and walking through the streets. Even if you don’t have a race number, be one of the 150,000 spectators cheering on the participants from the sidelines.http://www.ajc.com/s/peachtree/#race-info

Atlanta Braves v Philadelphia Phillies: Cheer on the Braves at Turner Field and then stay after for a firework celebration of Independence Day choreographed to patriotic music. 7:10. July 4th. Turner Field, 755 Hank Aaron Dr Atlanta, GA 30302. 800-745-3000, www.braves.com.

Georgia Aquarium’s Red, White & Brew: Celebrate Fourth of July with dinner, drinks and a view of Centennial Olympic Park’s firework show atop the Georgia Aquarium’s roof. 7-10 pm, fireworks starting at approximately 9:40pm. $55 ($45 for members), 21 and older only. 225 Baker Street NW, Atlanta GA 30313. 404-581- 4000.www.georgiaaquarium.org.

Lenox Square 4th of July: Shops & Restaurants open 10am-6pm. Musical Entertainment starts at 6pm. Fireworks scheduled to being at 9:40pm. July 4th. Free. 3393 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30326. 404-233-6767. http://www.simon.com/mall/lenox-square.

Whiskey Blue Fourth of July Extravaganza: Celebrate the fourth on the rooftop of the W Atlanta- Buckhead. Enjoy Whiskey Blue’s signature cocktails, gourmet bites, sounds of Dj Rimby and take in the Southeast’s largest fireworks display at Lenox Square. Tickets start at $25. July 4. W Atlanta Buckhead, 3377 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta GA 30326, www.whiskeyblue.xorbia.com.

Auburn July 4 Festivities and Fireworks: 5-11pm. July 4. Downtown Auburn, 1369 4th Ave Auburn, Ga 30011, cityofauburn-ga.org.

Austell- Six Flags Over Georgia Coca-Cola July 4th Fest: July 3-5. Thrilling rides and attractions, fun games and a fireworks show. Guests, who arrive with a Coca-Cola can, will be admitted to the park an hour early. Fireworks begin at 9:30pm on all three nights.

Braselton Fourth of July Festival, Parade & 5K: Star Spangled 4th of July 5/ Fun Run at 8am (walk begins at 8:15am. Celebration continues with a Festival from 4-9pm, Parade at 6pm, and Fireworks at Dusk. Braselton Park – www.braselton.net.

Buford - Lake Lanier- Lanier World, July 3rd, 4th, and 5th from 3-7pm. Enjoy the day with rides, slides, and live entertainment. Fireworks will begin after dark at Sunset Cove. 7000 Lanier Islands Pkwy, Buford GA 30518, www.lanierislands.com.

Buford- Mall of Georgia’s 13th annual Star Spangled Fourth: Kids zone opens at 5pm July 4 for games, free concerts in the Village Amphitheater also begin at 5pm. Fireworks begin at dusk (approximately 9:35pm). Post- fireworks screening of “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay- Part 1” (rated PG-13). Free.  Mall of Georgia, 3333 Buford Dr, Buford GA, 678-482-8788, www.mallofgeorgia.com.

Canton Fireworks and Festival- 4-7pm July 4 live music, followed by a parade from 7-8pm. Fireworks at dusk behind Riverstone. Riverstone Blv, Canton GA 30114. www.localendar.com.

Cartersville- Stars, Stripes & Cartersville Fourth of July Celebration- July 4. Parade at 9am on Main Street. Concert from 8-9:30pm followed by fireworks at Dellinger Park. $2 per car parking fee. 100 Pine Grove Rd, Cartersville GA 30120, http://www.visitcartersvillega.org.

Clayton County, 4th of July at the Beach- July 4, Event from 10am-7pm. Fireworks following at dusk. Admission is $9 for children, $11 for adults. The Beach at International Park, 2300 Highway 138, Jonesboro GA 30236, www.claytonparks.com.

Chamblee Fourth of July Celebration- 5-10pm, July 4. Free. Keswick Park, 3496 Keswick Dr, Chamblee GA 30341, 770-986-5016, www.chambleega.com.

Covington- Independence in the Park, 6pm July 4. Downtown Covington Square, 770-385-2077, www.downtownconvington.org.

Cumming’s July Fourth Celebration- Fireworks July 3rd at 9:30pm at the Cumming Fairgrounds, 235 Castleberry Road, Cumming GA 30040. Steam Engine Parade July 4th at 10:00 a.m. - downtown square. www.cummingfair.net.

Dahlonega- July 4. Independence Day Parade through historic square at 5pm, ending at drill field of University of North Georgia where fireworks show will be held at dusk. www.dahlonega.org.

Dalton- no information at this time

Decatur’s July 4th Pied piper Parade- decorate your wagon, ride your bike, skate or walk in this event. Begins at 6pm and ends at Community bandstand where a concert starts at 7pm. Fireworks begin at dark (approximately 9pm). Free. 404-371-8386, www.visitdecaturgeorgia.com.

Douglasville- July 4th Celebration -July 4th. Parade begins at 10:00 a.m. Fireworks will start at dusk. Fireworks can be viewed from Arbor Place mall front parking lot. http://douglasvillecalendar.com/.

Duluth Celebrates America- July 3rd Celebration, Duluth Town Green, 6-9pm, www.duluth-ga.com.

East Point Hometown Celebration- July 4, 3-11pm Carnival, fireworks at 9:30pm. 2757 Main Street, East Point GA 30344 across from East Point MARTA station. 404-270-7059, www.downtowneastpoint.com.

Ellijay, 4th of July Star Spangled Beach Party- Celebration on July 4. Parade at 6pm, fireworks at dusk. http://www.gilmerchamber.com/4th-of-july-star-spangled-beach-party-in-downtown-ellijay/.

Flowery Branch- Sterling on the Lake- July 5 celebration, 4pm with food, drinks and a live 80s band. Fireworks display at dusk. $20 per car for non-residents. 7005 Lake Sterling Blvd, (770) 965-3980, www.sterlingonthelake.com.

Gwinnett County- Gwinnett Braves v Charlotte Knights- Saturday July 4. Fireworks extravaganza immediately after game. www.gwinnettbraves.com.

Hampton- Friday Night Drags & Show-n-Shine Fireworks Night at AMS- Event from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m., Atlanta Motor Speedway, 1500 N. U.S. 41, Hampton. 770-946-4211, www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.

Heard County- A Chattahoochee Independence Day Celebration- July 4, 5pm- 12am. Food, Fun, Music, and fireworks at dusk. Court Square, Franklin GA. www.heardchamber.com.

Helen-Fireworks planned for Friday July 4th 9:30 p.m., behind the Alpine Village Shoppes. www.helenga.org

Henry County Fireworks Extravaganza- festivities begin at 2pm with live music, car shows, raffles, food, and more. Fireworks display after dark at 9:30pm. 100 Babbs Mill Rd, Hampton GA, 678-432-4399, www.hcfireworks.com.

Kennesaw’s pre-Independence Day Salute to America- July 3rd, concert at 6pm, fireworks at 9:30pm. Free. Downtown Kennesaw, 2828 Cherokee St, Kennesaw GA 30144. 770-422-9714, www.kennesaw.com.

Lawrenceville- Prelude to the Fourth- July 3rd, 7-10pm. Lawrenceville’s renowned Aurora Theatre will perform a Broadway Musical, followed by a dazzling fireworks display after dark. 210 Luckie St, Lawrenceville Ga 30046, www.lawrencevillega.org.

Lilburn-Sparkle in the Park- City park will be lit up with fireworks and have live music, GLOW the Show band. 5:30-10pm, July 4. 76 Main St, Lilburn Ga 30047, www.cityoflilburn.com.

Marietta- Fourth in the Park- Day-long celebration, July 4th 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Glover Park on the Marietta Square, www.mariettaga.gov.

Monroe- Freedom Fest- July 4th. Event begins at 5:00 p.m. at Athens Tech Campus, 121 Blaine Street. Fireworks after dark. www.monroedowntown.com.

Newnan- Fourth of July Parade and Rotary Celebration- 4th of July parade at 9am at Main Street. Fireworks celebration- Drake Stadium, gates open at 5:30. www.ci.newnan.ga.us.

Norcross- Red, White & Boom! Pre-Fourth Celebration- 3p.m. block party. Live music at 6 p.m. Fireworks at dusk. July 3rd. Free. Lillian Webb Park, 5 College St., Norcross GA 30071. 678-421-2000, www.norcrossga.net.  

Oconee County- Oconee 4th of July Spectacular- Activities and music start at 6:30pm, fireworks start at 9:30pm at Oconee Veterans Park. Georgia Country Music Artist of the Year Scott Brantley will perform with Athens' own Laughlin. The National Anthem will be brought to you by the University of North Georgia Men's Ensemble. http://www.oconeecounty.com/ocprd/

Peachtree City- July 4th Parade, begins at 9am on Peachtree Parkway at Braelinn Golf Course. 4th Fest 5 pm- 9 pm at City Hall Plaza. Fireworks 9 pm-10pm Drake Field. www.peachtree-city.org.

Rabun County- Fireworks in Dillard, begin at 9:00pm at the Dillard House on July 4th. Fireworks at Lake Burton, begin at 9:30pm on July 4th on the south end of Billy Goat Island. Lake Rabun Wooden Boat Parade on July 5th at Mathis Dam and following Lake Rabun Road to the Big Basin and then back following Brandon Mill rd. http://explorerabun.com/

Roswell- Fourth in the Park Celebration- 10am Freedom Parade, followed by a festival in Marietta Square (10am-9pm). Fireworks after dark. Free. Marietta Square, 4 Depot St Ne, Marietta GA 30060. www.roswellgov.com.

Sandy Springs- Independence Day Parade & Fireworks Display- Parade on July 4, 9am. Fireworks on July 5, festivities begin at 7:30 p.m. with the fireworks beginning at 9:45 p.m. The spectator area is located at the Concourse Corporate Center Lawn. www.sandyspringsga.gov.

Snellville- Star-Spangled Snellville- Independence Day Celebration on the Towne Green. July 4th starting at 3 pm. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. www.snellvillepride.com.

Stone Mountain- Fantastic Fourth Celebration- Enjoy the Lasershow Spectacular, followed by a fireworks July 3-5 on the lawn. Begins at dusk. $10 daily parking pass or $35 for annual parking permit, U.S. 78 E., Stone Mountain. www.stonemountainpark.com.

Sugar Hill- Sparks in the Park- July 3, music performances beginning at 6pm. Fireworks starting at 9pm. E.E. Robinson Park. www.cityofsurgarhill.com.

Tallapoosa- Fourth of July Celebration- Parade downtown starting at Veterans Memorial Park. Food entertainment and fireworks at Helton Howland Park.  www.visitharalson.org.

Villa Rica Fireworks Extravaganza- July 3, 5pm, Free. The Villa Rica Civic Center and Sports Complex, 1605 Highway 61, Villa Rica GA 30180. www.villaricaparks.com

Woodstock’s Stars and Strikes July 4th Spectacular- 7:30 am Freedom Run. Parade at 10am starting at Woodstock Elementary School. Festival at 3pm in the Park at City Center. Fireworks after dusk behind the Target shopping center (HWY 92 and I-575). www.woodstockga.gov.

Student athletes up for back-to-school challenges after spending summer training, competing

Bailey Hopkins, an athlete on and off the ball field, approaches his school work with the same determination as he does a fastball with the bases loaded.He keeps his eye on the ball, relies on his training and takes a swing at an A.The 11-year-old spent the summer conditioning his mind and body traveling with the Shiloh Titans baseball team. So when classes began at Five Forks Middle School in Lawrenceville, Ga., unlike some of his peers, Bailey was ready to hit the hallways running.Even as a sixth-grader at a new school.“I want to keep my grades up not just for now, but for later,” said Bailey, who dreams of playing pro baseball. “If baseball doesn’t work out, I want to be able to have something to fall back on. Last year, I got straight A's.”The agility and endurance students learn in sports have direct ties to the classroom. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention released a study in May showing substantial evidence between physical activity and scholastic achievement.“Exercise boosts brain power,” said Dennis Docheff, president of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education. “There has been some recent research done that shows that kids who are physically active on a regular basis perform better academically. To participate in sports, oftentimes it requires a certain grade-point average. It does motivate some.”The Shiloh Titans must meet behavior and grade requirements to stay active in the year-round league.“Any kid that doesn’t keep A's or B's has to answer to the coach,” said coach Brett Stovern, a founder of the Titans. “Any discipline problems at school also would cause them not to play baseball.”Getting children involved in football, cheerleading, basketball or softball may help parents mold their kids into responsible students. Juggling homework and sports builds confidence and teaches time management.Brilyn Patrick-Boyce, ranked among the top 9-year-old high jumpers and long jumpers in Georgia, won first place in finals at regionals and placed in the top 25 earlier this month at the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympic Games in Norfolk, Va. The endurance she learned in track is helping her tackle social studies, her toughest subject at school.Track taught her that hard work pays off.“This is our first year running track,” said her mother, Keiva Patrick. "They push these kids to work. It opens your eyes.”Athletes with the Lightning Spikes Track Club begin preseason conditioning in early fall. A developmental season then runs from January to March, with weekend meets. A competitive season then runs into July, again with weekend meets. Team members at times practice four and five times a week. During the preseason Brilyn spent one hour a week training in a gym doing jumping jacks, pushing weighted balls and doing other exercises to build her strength.“When my baby started to cry the first day, I was ready to pull her out. But the other parents said to go home, soak her in some Epsom salts and she will be fine,” Patrick said. “By the end of the season, she could do five laps around the Berkmar High track.”Brilyn says she will takethe same attitude toward social studies that she displays on the track.“I like it because it makes me stronger,” she said. “I’m going to try to get an A.”Bailey, the Shiloh Titans catcher, keeps a datebook to manage his homework assignments, projects, tests and baseball practice sessions. He is taking four honors classes.“The traveling team is a huge commitment,” said Nancy Hopkins, “homework mom” for the Titans, who organizes parents to sit with kids and do homework at picnic tables before practice. “We are gone most every day of every weekend. First and foremost comes homework. Bailey knows he can’t play ball if his school work is not up to date even if it means you have to do it while we are traveling in the car or in between ballgames. He takes pride in the fact that he can juggle.”In only their second year as a team, the Titans have won five tournaments, including the 10U Grand Slam World Series Tournament in Panama City Beach, Fla., ending their season 86-11.Shannon Contic, a teacher and Titan mom, sees the impact of the victory on her son Dennis, the youngest in his class. “Since he has been on the team I have seen his confidence grow,” she said. “Confidence from the ball field translates into confidence at school. It has been a great thing for him.”Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School track star O’Neal Wanliss, 17, also is seeing an academic benefit from sports. O'Neal, who is ranked among Georgia's top runners in the 400 meters, says track helped him complete rigorous advanced placement classes. He recently finished fourth at the Junior Olympics in California.“As a natural competitor you are not going to settle for an average grade," O'Neal said. You are going to strive for something better.”

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