Officials say Augusta ready for public funeral

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December 29, 2006

AUGUSTA, Ga.---Thousands are converging on the James Brown Arena for a funeral that will have millions of eyes on Augusta.

"If you don't have to be out tomorrow, this is going to be a huge crowd," said Mayor Deke Copenhaver. "I would say stay off the roads, because traffic could be a problem."

Organizers met one last time today to make sure plans flow smoothly.

"We're okay security-wise," said James Brown Arena manager George Croft. "We might have a situation with parking."

Judging by the huge crowd at Thursday's service in New York, Augusta's 8100-seat arena will quickly fill up. That's why leaders have a plan for overflow.

"We will have speakers on the 7th and 8th Street side to broadcast the service itself," Copenhaver said. "Really I expect a packed house tomorrow."

While many details have not been released, we do know Al Sharpton will deliver the eulogy. State Representative Quincy Murphy and Paine College President Shirley Lewis are also on the program.

And of course, Mr. Brown's band will perform.

With pomp and circumstance aside, organizers hope everyone will remember one thing.

"We need to remember this is a funeral, and honor and respect the family on this," Mayor Copenhaver said. "This man was about peaceful-type things. He quieted riots; he did things that were really constructive."

A big goodbye for a man who did big things worldwide in a way that he'll never be forgotten.

Parking is obviously going to be a concern tomorrow. The city has designated the municipal building on Greene Street, the Hatcher Building also on Greene, the Board of Education on Broad Street, and the DFACS building on Fenwick for parking. The best advice is to arrive early.

The sheriff's office announced late this afternoon that it will not allow people to park or camp out overnight on arena property.