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Community readying for parade
Lighted floats roll through downtown at 6
Carson wells secures lights to The Heritage Bank's float. - photo by Photo by Frenchi Jones

In Hinesville today

• 12:15 p.m.: Bradwell Institute Chorus performs at Bradwell Park.
• 6:30 p.m.:  Hinesville Christmas Parade (starts on General Screven Way near Bradwell Institute).

Staples hitting wood could be heard inside Hinesville’s Coca-Cola building Wednesday night as employees of The Heritage Bank put the finishing touches on their “Disney Magic” float for tonight’s parade.
 “We’ve been working on it for a couple of weeks,” Josh Wheeler said. “It’s almost finished.”
The bank’s employees said they are ready to have a good time and take on the competition at the 12th annual Hinesville Christmas Parade, which is set to get under way at 6:30 p.m. on General Screven Way.  
The bank’s marketing director, John Crowley, said it is an honor to participate.
“We always take great pleasure in creating a float that is fun and colorful for the parade,” Crowley said. “It’s one of the highlights of the year for our employees.”
The Hinesville-based bank is one of 30 local businesses, civic organizations, schools and non-profit organizations that will participate.
Returning to defend its title for Best Float will be a group from Hinesville restaurant Vann’s.
“Last year, it was a fluke,” eatery owner Van Wheeler said of the win. “We put the float together in three days. This year, we started way in advance and added a few things, as well as a few surprises. Believe me, it’s going to be a party, New Orleans style.”
This year’s parade theme is “Christmas in the U.S.”  The parade organizer, the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, picked the theme as a way to honor hundreds of 3rd Infantry Division troops who have returned to Fort Stewart.
Kenny Smiley, executive director for the chamber, said the parade’s military component will be sizeable
“We’ll have some marching battalions and we may even get to see (the 3rd ID’s) mascot,” Smiley said, referring to Rocky, a bulldog.
Mascot or not, the 3rd ID will be well represented. Brig. Gen. Patrick J. Donahue, deputy commanding general (maneuver), will serve as the event’s grand marshal.
The honorary grand marshals are John Mosely, of Century Tel, and Jon Long, a former chairman of the Hospital Authority of Liberty County.
Savannah TV station WTOC will broadcast the parade live and have live streaming on its Web site.  Anchorwoman Dawn Baker, a Riceboro native, will provide commentary.
Whether watching on TV or from the streets of Hinesville, Smiley thinks the event will be memorable.
“We hope to offer people the most beautiful illuminated Christmas parade in the entire southeast part of Georgia,” he said.
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