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Hinesville rings in the holidays
Christmas tree lighting (16)FRONT
The Liberty County High School chorus provides holiday music to delight the crowd at a tree lighting Thursday evening in downtown Hinesville. - photo by Asha Gilbert

Crowds filled Bradwell Park on Nov. 29 for the annual Hinesville for the Holidays event, featuring games, photos with Santa, train rides and bouncy houses, live music, carols, and the annual Christmas tree lighting for the community to enjoy.

This year, Hinesville’s City Manager and department coordinated the event, and this year, the event is expected to draw around 500 people, according to Hinesville Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Michelle Ricketson. This year’s tree was grown at the Days of Creation Tree Farm in Jesup, and is a towering 16-foot Murray Cypress, Ricketson continued.

There were over 30 local vendors, and both Bradwell Institute and Liberty County High School choirs performed. After the tree was lit, the community joined together for a rousing rendition of “Silent Night”, while children lined up to visit with Santa.

“This was the first year we’ve enhanced it the way we did tonight,” City Manager Kenneth Howard said. “Last year, what we did was we had our Christmas tree lighting. Essentially, we gathered, had a few carols that were sung, and that was about it. This year, we wanted to enhance it.”

Parents and children alike embrace the holiday season by braving the cold to watch the City of Hinesville tree lighting each year. The annual event tends to mean different things to different people, so the Courier asked the community what their favorite part was.

“My son definitely enjoyed Santa Claus,” resident Samone Johnson said. “He’s only one. But he loved it. We’ll definitely come back next year.”

“It’s our first time here at the event, because we just relocated from Savannah,” new resident Amber Fort added.

The Vietnam Veterans of America Liberty Chapter 789 has a cookie and hot chocolate table at the event every year, for the past 23 years, Paul’s Art Studio owner and veteran Paul Spence said.

“We do the same thing each year—hot cocoa and cookies,” Spence said. “We also plan to take 300 baskets up to Dublin, GA to distribute, which we’ve also done the past 23 years.”

The younger residents, especially Christian Proctor and Travion Blair, enjoyed the activities and food available.

“My favorite thing was the bouncy house and the popcorn,” Proctor said, as he stuck another bite of popcorn into his mouth.

His brother said his favorite thing was the bouncy house. Despite the slight chilly weather, both were thoroughly happy.

Overall, the turnout for the event filled Bradwell Park with games, food and plenty of chatter as Hinesville rang in the Christmas season.

“We were very excited about the crowd,” Howard said. “It exceeded my expectations. When I saw all the people gathered, it was great. It went extraordinarily well. All the staff, volunteers, and public made it great.”

For more photos, see the Hinesville for the Holidays 2018 photo gallery here.

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