Head out and have some fun
• Christmas in the Park: 5:30-8:30 p.m. Monday in downtown Hinesville. Culminates with the lighting of the community Christmas tree at 8 p.m.
• Illuminated Christmas Parade: 6:30 p.m. Friday in downtown Hinesville. Route runs down Memorial Drive to Gen. Screven Way to Hendry Street to Main Street.
Santa and his reindeer will slide their sleigh into Bradwell Park on Monday to ring in the holiday season.
Santa’s appearance marks the first of two festive events during the upcoming week aimed at drawing the community together to celebrate the magic of Christmas.
On Monday, the family-oriented Christmas in the Park will offer activities for children as well as the community tree lighting, and on Friday community organizations will drive their decked-out cars and floats in the Illuminated Christmas Parade.
The fifth annual Christmas in the Park will be held from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in downtown Hinesville. During the event, live reindeer will be on hand, and Santa will entertain visits from children. Local dancers and performers also will offer their takes on traditional Christmas music throughout the event.
Children will enjoy electric train rides, decorate cookies and create festive crafts during the event, according to Leah Poole, Liberty County Chamber of Commerce executive director. It will conclude with the lighting of the community Christmas tree from 8-8:30 p.m.
The event is aimed at bringing holiday myths and traditions to life for young children.
“Seeing my little boy glimpse the reindeer for the first time and really understand what they were is a memory I will never forget, and I think if we can provide just a sprinkling of holiday magic for everyone, then we are doing something right,” Poole said.
Both events are free and open to the public — a bonus for families trying to save money for their at-home celebrations.
Christmas in the Park will affect traffic and parking in downtown Hinesville on Monday. Road closures will begin at 3 p.m.; however, Main Street will not be closed to thru traffic this year. Commerce, Midway and part of East Court streets will be closed. Cars should be moved out of parking spots on these streets no later than 2:30 p.m. so event organizers and vendors can set up.
A longer-standing tradition, the Illuminated Christmas Parade, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Its route will run through the Memorial Drive traffic circle, down Memorial to Gen. Screven Way to Hendry Street to Main Street.
Typically, between 70 to 80 groups enter the parade, which will have somewhere between 20 and 30 floats, Poole said.
“I like the energy of the staging grounds,” Poole said. “It’s amazing how that many people can make that much noise, get organized and actually create something so magical.”
Serving as grand marshal of the parade is Trevor the cat, the longest-term animal in residence at the Liberty Humane Shelter. He has been there since 2008.
Trevor was selected by popular vote on the chamber’s website this summer, and he outpaced competitors by 61 percent, Poole said.
Trevor will ride in a Nissan Murano on loan from Vaden Nissan, Poole said.
Other sponsors of the event include Liberty Dodge Jeep, Century Link, Harris ACE Hardware, South Georgia Bank, Navy Federal Credit Union, Savannah Technical College’s Liberty Campus, the Melissa Carter Ray State Farm Agency, the Auto Super Center, Pioneer Services, The Heritage Bank, McDonald’s and GeoVista Credit Union.