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GALLERY: Big crowd turns out for tree lighting

Allen Brown’s tenure as mayor of Hinesville is winding down, and one of his last official acts came before a crowd of thousands at Bradwell Park.

The city held its annual tree lighting festival November 30 at the park, with a crowd that delighted city officials and took in musical performances “We are a very supportive and welcoming community and this crowd is evidence of that,” Brown said. “Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your mayor. It’s been a great honor.”

Brown is ending his second four-year term as mayor and cannot serve again under term limits. Having spent two fouryear terms as mayor previously, Brown put in a total of 16 years as Hinesville mayor.

“We are so indebted for all that he has given to this city,” City Manager Kenneth Howard said.

Other officials also expressed their delight with the turnout and their wishes for the coming year.

“You really have showed up and showed out,” said Liberty County Commission Chairman Donald Lovette. “Let’s make 2024 even better than 2023.”

“When I see all these people gathered together tonight,” said Hinesville City Council member Jason Floyd, “it makes me proud to be from Hinesville and proud to be in Liberty County. Let’s all not forget the reason for the season.”

Jose Ortiz, one of two newcomers to the city council to be sworn in, said he was excited to get started.

“Seeing all you people out here shows me that 2024 is going to be a great year for us, a great year,” he told the crowd.

Brown, who praised ESG, the city’s public works contractor, for its work in getting the park ready for the event, will cede his mayor’s gavel in a few weeks to Council member Karl Riles, who gave up his seat to run for mayor.

“It’s time and I am looking forward to my friend Karl Riles standing here next year,” Brown declared.

But Riles was more than ready to get the lights turned out.

“Do you guys want to hear me talk,” Riles said, “or do you want to light this tree?”

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