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Christmas events lining up

POSTED: November 23, 2009 9:26 a.m.
A citywide invitation to catch some holiday cheer is being delivered with the Chamber of Commerce’s Christmas in the Park and illuminated Christmas parade.
The third annual Christmas in the Park on Nov. 30 brings back a first-year favorite for kids — reindeer straight from the North Pole will be in town, pulling Santa’s sleigh.
Co-presented by the chamber and the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, the nighttime event includes children’s stations for cookie decorating and ornament making, choral performances by area students and churches, bounce-house inflatables and food vendors.
If the evening is chilly, visitors can warm up with free hot chocolate and cider as they sing “Silent Night” at the evening’s final event, the lighting of the Christmas Tree.
 On Dec. 4, the chamber presents its 13th annual parade, “Liberty County Presents A Coastal Christmas,” which will travel in a new direction for the first time since its inception.
“The big change this year is the new route,” chamber Executive Director Kenny Smiley said. “We’re changing first because we have a conflict with a sporting event at the previous location, Bradwell Institute. But we’re also taking a new route because of Memorial Drive construction.”
The parade’s new nighttime route begins and ends at the Pre-K Center next to the Board of Education, then follows Bradwell, East Memorial Drive (formerly Washington), moves around the traffic circle to continue on Memorial, then to Wellborn and finally picks up on its old route at Gen. Screven Way before looping back via Hendry and Main Street again.
“The parade will actually pass itself on the circle,” Smiley said.
This year’s parade currently has nearly 70 entries including 20 floats, and the last day for entrants to register is Monday. Smiley said all entrants are encouraged to do as much as they can to embody the theme. “We are lucky to be one of six counties along the beautiful Georgia Coast, and we though it was time to highlight that,” he said. “Think reindeer pulling jet skis, trees decorated with seashells and lights on palm trees.”
The grand marshal for the parade will be longtime resident and retired educator Mary Baggs, and two of the honorary grand marshals will be Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillips and Dave Sapp, director of Solid Waste Services.
The third honorary grand marshal seat is reserved for the late Don Carter, a longtime business leader in the community.
Both events are co-sponsored by several area groups: McDonald’s, Nesmith Chevrolet, Atlantic Foot and Ankle Specialists, GeoVista Credit Union, Heritage Bank and First United Methodist Church of Hinesville. The parade will be taped by station WTOC and the chamber will stream the video on its Web site as well.
Smiley said last year’s event drew between 10,000 and 15,000 people.” Almost everyone enjoys the holidays, and to be a part of events that kick off the holidays and being able to put folks in the spirit is a real joy,” he said.
“It’s one of our favorite things to do. And to be able to give military families some joy, that means a lot to us as well. Our deployed soldiers are always on our minds.”
 

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