Editor, When you’re looking from the inside out, it’s amazing to witness the amount of time and effort that go into planning public events that attract thousands of spectators. This year, the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce and Convention and Visitors Bureau hosted the 17th annual Illuminated Christmas Parade and seventh annual Christmas in the Park.
The events have become traditions for Liberty County, and we would like to publically thank the participants, volunteers and sponsors that brought them to life.
Planning for these events begins in July/August with a committee that helps to organize and coordinate with departments in city government and participating organizations.
This year’s theme for the parade, “A Red, White and Blue Christmas: A Salute to our Troops” was selected to celebrate having almost all 20,000 troops at home, which is a first in close to a decade.
Since we had a patriotic theme, we had Maj. Gen. John M. Murray as our honorary grand marshal. The 3rd ID Color Guard, the 3rd ID Band and 3-7 Infantry were included in the parade as well.
Fort Stewart and its soldiers are such an integral part of the community, and we are grateful that they were willing to participate in the parade.
We also appreciate the Liberty County Humane Shelter for bringing Violet, our parade grand marshal, to participate. She was voted to be grand marshal via a Facebook contest.
Extra hands are always appreciated, and our volunteers this year were fantastic helpers! To Susan McCorkle, Daniel Clark, Barbara Martin, Lee Burkhalter, Drew Payne, Karen Bell, Jennifer Buehler, Holly Stevens, Jeff Ashman, Yolanda Jackson, Kathy Villafane, PJ Schneider and the YALL kids, you all were instrumental in making the events run smoothly and provided much needed assistance. And thank you to any others we may have forgotten, sorry!
No event could take place without our sponsors, who play a major part in both our Christmas events. This year, our sponsors were the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, the Liberty Convention and Visitors Bureau, South Georgia Bank, GeoVista Credit Union, Sears Hometown Store, CenturyLink, Savannah Technical College and IHG Army Hotels. Thank you for supporting these events that everyone enjoys so much and helping us keep them free to the public!
Once again, the city of Hinesville was actively involved in working with us to hold these events. Thank you so much the Hinesville Police and Fire departments, which provided protection and guidance. Thank you, also to CH2M Hill/OMI for all of your help, especially Gregg Higgins, Mike Davis, Kenna Graham and Rodney Edwards.
We also appreciate our commentators, Dawn Baker of WTOC, Miranda Sikes of RTS Homes and Rene Harwell of Liberty Regional Medical Center. Thank you for being the voices for the parade. Rene unfortunately was unable to join us that night, but we know she was there in spirit.
Finally, we want to recognize the organizations and businesses that participated in Christmas in the Park and the Christmas Parade. We had more than 70 entries in the parade and more than 25 organizations participating in Christmas in the Park, way too many to list in an editorial. You know who you are, and we want to thank you for taking the time to make your entry special, your patience and your support of these events. Participation from businesses and organizations in the area ensures we can continue the tradition for years to come.
The parade video is archived on the WTOC website and will be televised on Christmas Day. Here at the chamber and CVB, we thank everyone and wish you all a merry Christmas and happy New Year! We’ll see you for our Christmas events again next year!
Amanda Scott, public relations director
Liberty County Chamber of Commerce