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Starlight celebration to blast off the first week of classes at UNG

Starlight celebration to blast off the first week of classes at UNG
The University of North Georgia will mark the beginning of the new school year with family-friendly activities, food and fireworks at the annual Starlight celebration Aug. 26 at the UNG Gainesville Campus.

University of North Georgia (UNG) students, faculty and staff as well as community members can celebrate the new school year with a bang.

The annual Starlight celebration featuring music, food and fireworks is set for Saturday, Aug. 26, at UNG’s Gainesville Campus. Gates will open beginning at 5:30 p.m. with fireworks starting at dark.

All activities will take place in the G.W. Bailey Amphitheater at 3820 Mundy Mill Road in Oakwood. In case of inclement weather, a rain date is scheduled for Sept. 9.

"To me, it is such a great experience as a university-and-community event,” said Richard Oates, vice president of UNG’s Gainesville Campus. “You have people sitting on the lawn having a picnic; kids will be throwing footballs and Frisbees; and students will be performing. It’s just a great family environment.”

The event is free, but parking costs $10 per car and $20 per bus, van or larger. UNG students may enter for free with a valid UNG parking permit. Table sponsorships are available for $100.

“You can almost go back to the old drive-in days and pack as many people in your car and come,” Oates said.

Money from the event will help fund student financial needs such as scholarships, student loans and the campus food pantry.

Oates said the celebration is to mark the beginning of the new academic year while showcasing UNG and its students to the community.

Groups set to perform in front of the expected 4,000-plus crowd include the UNG Brass Ensemble, the UNG Men’s Quartet and the UNG Jazz Ensemble. Members of the Gainesville Theatre Alliance (GTA) also will perform selections from upcoming shows. GTA is a nationally acclaimed collaboration of UNG, Brenau University, theater professionals and the northeast Georgia community. 

 “And we will have a DJ playing music when the students aren’t performing,” Oates said.

Children can bounce off the walls inside inflatables or sit as still as statutes while UNG students decorate their faces with paint. Glow-in-the-dark items will also be for sale.

“And Nigel the Nighthawk will be there,” Oates said, referring to the UNG mascot.

Visitors may bring their own food for a picnic or buy some from vendors.

Oates noted it is the second year for the celebration in August.

“Originally, Starlight was a concert in June,” he said. “Last year, we moved it to August to culminate with the start of the fall semester and Welcome Week.”

Oates explained the celebration date changed to engage more students. Before, it was geared more toward the alumni and the community.

“I wanted to encourage more student involvement, and the community embraced the change,” he said. “We are showcasing our students to the community and students to other students.”

For more information, visit the Starlight celebration event listing online.

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