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Season dawns with Christmas in Park
Event features tree lighting,, songs, snacks, gifts
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Members of the Bradwell Institute Chorus sing holiday songs Monday night in Bradwell Park during the annual Christmas in the Park celebration. The chorus performed last year and was invited back to entertain the crowd. - photo by Phgoto by Patty Leon

More photos

For a bunch more great photos by Lawrence Dorsey, check out his photo gallery in the Community Section.

It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas on Monday night as school children, with their moms and dads in tow, swarmed Bradwell Park for the city’s annual Christmas in the Park event.
There was no snow, and Santa’s reindeers never landed, but those who attended the event did not seem to mind — as long as they could tell Santa their Christmas wish list and fill their bellies with hot chocolate and fresh popcorn.
Longtime Hinesville resident Marniy, who did not want to give her last name, said she appreciated the city’s efforts to bring the community together.
“I think that what they are doing here, with the development and the building up of downtown, is great,” she said. “They are making it feel like more of a community. We did not have this when I was a kid.”
The gathering was sponsored by local businesses and organizations such as the Hinesville Arts Council, The Heritage Bank, NeSmith Chevrolet and the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce.
Each offered a free gift for those who attended and plenty of Christmas cheer.
Baldinos manager Mary Wilson said she did not want to miss an opportunity for her company to participate rather than just be a sponsor.  
“It’s good for everyone to come together and meet their neighbor,” she said. “Plus, it’s not commercialized and there’s no cost to anybody.”
Wilson’s company handed out candy canes and invitations to its Christmas Eve open house, where patrons will be able to enjoy free subs and beverages.
Monday’s festivities included sips of hot apple cider, Christmas carolers, cookie decorating and handshakes with Mrs. Claus.
Even with all the holiday fun, the true meaning of Christmas was not lost.
Baby Jesus was on site, tucked tight in his manger, surrounded by students from First Presbyterian Christian Academy, who were dressed for their parts.
Reindeer were expected in from Atlanta for the event, but due to an emergency cancellation could not show up.
Kenny Smiley, executive director of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, said he was disappointed with the reindeers’ “no-how,” but was pleased with the event overall.
“Santa had someone on his lap for the entire time he was there,” he said. “Everyone had a good time.”
“Next year, we want to see it grow into an even larger event, with more vendors and more things for people to do.” 

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