2017-05-12 / Front Page

Tens of thousands expected at event to honor military

BY LAURA LEVERING
Fort Gordon Public Affairs Office


“Very superstitious ...” the 434th Army Band rocks a Stevie Wonder hit song during the 2016 Thunder Over Evans gathering at the Evans Towne Center Park. 
PHOTO BY BILL BENGTSON / FORT GORDON PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE “Very superstitious ...” the 434th Army Band rocks a Stevie Wonder hit song during the 2016 Thunder Over Evans gathering at the Evans Towne Center Park. PHOTO BY BILL BENGTSON / FORT GORDON PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICE Fort Gordon and the Central Savannah River Area is gearing up for one of the area’s largest events.

Thunder Over Evans will return to Evans Towne Center Park May 20 for its annual Armed Forces Day celebration. Festivities will begin at 11 a.m. and end around 10 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

“This is something the community puts on to show its appreciation for the military and serves as a way to bring the entire community together,” said Rachel Dworaczyk, executive assistant to the president of Augusta Warrior Project.

There will be entertainment throughout the day including military demonstrations and exhibits, a skydive drop-in, aircraft flyover, lumberjack show, extreme stunt show, and more. Youngsters will have more than 20 inflatables to play on in the Toddler Zone and Kid Zone. For kids at heart, a 128-foot inflatable obstacle course for those who want to compete in a friendly challenge where prizes will be awarded. New this year, No Joes Circus will perform a high-energy outdoor circus that features balancing acts, a Wheel of Death and multi-bar trapeze with no safety net.

Vietnam veterans from 319th Transportation Company will provide a complimentary dinner for 350 uniformed military personnel and volunteers participating in the event. There will also be plenty of vendors selling food and drinks.

The formal portion of the evening will begin at 4 p.m. with a concert by the 282nd Army Band. Around 4:45 p.m., military personnel will post the colors. Maj. Gen. John B. Morrison Jr., U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence and Fort Gordon commanding general, will follow with remarks then lead a group of recruits with their Oath of Enlistment.

Dworaczyk said the celebration is a massive community-wide event that requires a lot of planning and preparation. An estimated 30,000 attended last year, and she suspects this year will be even bigger.

“Augusta Warrior Project is involved in only a fraction of the event,” she said. “It is a huge planning effort because it is a really large event.”

As someone who has helped coordinate the military aspect of the event this year and last, Dworaczyk enjoys being a part of the planning and watching the outcome.

“I love going out there and seeing what’s new,” Dworaczyk said. “There are a lot of great things happening.”

At 9:15 p.m., the night will end with a 30-minute fireworks display that has earned a reputation as being one of the largest displays in the CSRA.

“It’s a chance to come out and have a good time,” Dworaczyk said. “It’s a tremendous thing that the event organizers do not just for our military, but for the community as a whole.”

For a detailed schedule of events and attractions, visit www.thunderoveraugusta.com.

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