James Brown block party in the works for downtown

Published: Apr. 7, 2021 at 7:13 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The state of Georgia is getting ready to lift some COVID restrictions. Starting tomorrow, there will be no state-wide ban on large gatherings and no state-mandated social distancing rules in restaurants and bars.

Already we’re starting to see some local plans for bigger events like the James Brown birthday block party. This party could open the door and set the tone for others down the road. Organizers are hopeful this will be the stage for a birthday party for our very own James Brown.

The commission voted to allow the event but some commissioners disagree, and it might not be for the reasons you think.

District 1 Commissioner Jordan Johnson sponsored the block party planned for this stretch of James Brown Boulevard.

“I think it’s time to celebrate the godfather of soul in a way that, that would not only make him proud but to make the community proud but that’ll make the community proud as well,” said Johnson.

Johnson says he doesn’t support Georgia opening up fully, but thinks this particular event will be safe. Despite restrictions lifting in Georgia, organizers say they’ll still enforce masks and social distancing.

“Because while we wanna celebrate, we wanna make sure that our numbers don’t spike. We wanna make sure that folks lives aren’t at risk either,” said Johnson.

The commission voted yes on a big party while they cast those very votes from home. It’s one of the reasons District 3 Commissioner Catherine Smith McKnight voted no on it.

“I don’t know how many people will be at the James Brown Bash, it could be 200 people plus, yet we can’t hold a commission meeting, with about, what? 20 plus people?” she said.

Though others say there’s a difference between being outside and spaced out.

“Folks are able to social distance in an outdoor setting, folks are able to enjoy the outdoor scenery without having to be with each other, without having to put themselves at risk of the typical things that would put you at risk of COVID,” said Johnson.

Both commissioners say they’re trying to be safe but fair. And as for the best way to celebrate a very important birthday in a pandemic? Well, only time will tell.

The sheriff’s office now has the final say on if the event will be able to block off this road for the party. Organizers say the paperwork was dropped off today. In the meantime, Commissioner McKnight says the commission will vote on April 20th to see if they’re willing to get back into the chambers in person after a year away.

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