Fun on the Fourth
Celebrate America’s birthday at the annual boat parade, concert and fireworks display
By Katie Cole
Two of Lake Martin’s most beloved Fourth of July traditions will celebrate big anniversaries this year.
This summer marks the 20th anniversary of Russell Marine’s Fourth of July Boat Parade and the 10th anniversary of the Russell Lands’ Fourth of July Blast, which includes a concert and one of the largest fireworks shows in the Southeast.
Organizers for the parade and the concert said both events will be similar to previous years: why change a good thing?
“We’re not making too many changes,” Russell Marine General Manager Dave Commander said of the boat parade. “It just seems to be a little larger each year.”
Bo Bierley, manager of Kowaliga Marina, where the event begins, said about 35 boats participated in the last year’s parade.
Hundreds of people in boats and other watercraft pack into Kowaliga Bay to watch the lavishly decorated boats parade around the point to Children’s Harbor and back again.
Past favorites include a pirate ship with a smoking cannon and a Flintstones boat, not to mention the numerous boats awash in red, white and blue. “This really gets July 4th off to a patriotic start,” Commander said.
Prizes are awarded to the top two boats in four categories: tallest flag, largest flag, most patriotic and best decorated. First place wins a $150 gift certificate to any Russell Marine marina, while second place wins a $75 gift certificate.
The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Sunday, July 4. Boats can pre-register up to the morning of the event at any Russell marina, preferably Kowaliga Marina, which is located just past Highway 63 bridge.
That evening, the Lake Martin Amphitheater will be packed with people for the annual concert and fireworks display.
The concert will begin at 6 p.m. with Rock Solid, the All-State Youth Ensemble for the Alabama Baptist Convention.
“Rock Solid is a group of 9th-12th graders who auditioned through the Alabama Baptist Convention for a position in this band,” said Robert Gunn, Russell Lands’ director of special events and social media. “They tour one week out of the year.”
Gunn said the band plays mostly secular music. The band includes vocalists, a percussionist, keyboardists, rhythm, lead and bass guitarists and horn players.
Nationwide Coverage, a Birmingham-based cover band that opened for AquaPalooza last year, will take the stage next at 7:15 p.m. A hula and twist contest will be held and Homeland, a local group, will sing patriotic songs leading up to the fireworks display at 9 p.m.
Night Magic will provide the fireworks again for the display. Gunn said the company is looking into different choreography for this year’s event.
“They were here on the lake last year and did a really good job,” Gunn said. “We’re excited about having them come back this year.”
Nationwide Coverage will play again following the fireworks display. Food and non-alcoholic concessions will be available for purchase on site. Admission is $15 and children 6 and under are admitted free. Gates open at 5 p.m.
Tickets are available through Ticketmaster, at The Adventure Center at Russell Crossroads and at the gate. The Lake Martin Amphitheater is located on Highway 63 approximately one mile south of the Kowaliga Bridge. Visit www.lmat.org for more information.