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Jim Blaylock
North Harlem Elementary pupils sing during the Harlem tree lighting Thursday.

Christmas events start Columbia County's holiday season

Posted: November 30, 2011 - 1:05am  |  Updated: December 2, 2011 - 9:58am
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Kearstin Clark, 9, admires the Christmas tree at Harlem's tree lighting ceremony Thursday. Harlem holds its annual festival and parade Dec. 10.  Jim Blaylock
Jim Blaylock
Kearstin Clark, 9, admires the Christmas tree at Harlem's tree lighting ceremony Thursday. Harlem holds its annual festival and parade Dec. 10.

Twitter @ValerieRowell

Columbia County officials will flip the switch Saturday to illuminate the county’s new Christmas tree during the annual Christmas in America Tree Lighting Ceremony.

The event starts at 3 p.m. at Evans Towne Center Park. “New tree, new park,” County Recreation and Events Manager Stacie Adkins said.

The 30-feet-tall Deodar Cedar tree was planted this month next to the Lady Antebellum Pavilion.

Adkins said the festivities will include vendors and free kiddie train rides, along with free hot chocolate. Children also can visit Santa Claus.

The ceremony starts on the pavilion stage at 5:30 p.m, and includes an excerpt of The Nutcracker performed by the Columbia County Ballet, performances by The Vineyard Praise Team and the Columbia County Elementary School Mass Chorus.

The tree will be lit at about 6:30 p.m., Adkins said.

Nonperishable food items will be collected for Columbia County Cares food pantry.

• Harlem started the holiday festivities Thursday with its tree lighting.

Members of the Harlem High School band are selling Christmas ornaments to help fund the band’s trip to the Discover Orange Bowl in Miami, Fla., in January.

“We’ve been trying to support them any way we can to make money to go on that trip,” Carter said.

• Grovetown officials will turn on their holiday spirit Friday when they illuminate the intersection of Robinson Avenue and Old Wrightsboro Road.

“We light up the whole inside part of Grovetown,” City Clerk Vicky Capetillo said. “They’ve got a couple of new things they’ve added this year.”

The program starts at 6:30 p.m. and will include performances by the Grovetown High School Glee Club, the Grovetown Middle School band and the Grovetown Elementary School chorus.

Santa Claus also will be visiting with children, Capetillo said.

Nonperishable food items will be accepted as part of the Food For Santa’s Sack benefit for the United We Care food pantry.

The festivities will continue Saturday in Grovetown with the annual city parade to start at noon. The parade will follow Robinson Avenue from Summerfield subdivision to the IGA store at Harlem-Grovetown Road, Evans said.

• The Columbia County Merchants Association keeps the holiday fun going with its 47th annual Christmas Parade on Sunday starting at 2 p.m.

Nearly 120 floats will travel from Evans Town Center Boulevard to Washington Road and up North Belair Road to Bel Air Elementary School at Cox Road, Parade Chairman Billy Franke said.

“It changes every year a little bit,” Franke said. “We’ve got a lot of different stuff. It is going to be pretty cool.”

Platt’s Funeral Home on North Belair Road will provide free hot chocolate.

Entries include the Shriner’s golf cars, and dancers, Cub and Girl Scouts, businesses and, for the first time, the Harlem High School JROTC, Franke said.

The parade will be televised live on WRDW News Channel 12. Judges are U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, Augusta Sheriff Ronnie Strength and former Augusta Mayor Bob Young, and they’ll choose winners in four categories.

• Harlem closes out the festivities with its annual Christmas in the Heart of Downtown Harlem Dec. 10. The city’s Christmas parade begins at noon.

The parade begins at the Harlem City Park and follows Milledgeville Road to North Louisville Street. It turns up West Forrest Street and ends at Harlem Middle School, Carter said.

The holiday festival, which runs from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m., showcases business in downtown Harlem and about 50 arts and crafts vendors. Refreshments and children’s attractions will be available.

Carter said many groups, including elementary and middle schools, will provide live entertainment all day.

A pass is required to join the parade. Vendors and parade applications are available at www.harlemga.org, by calling (706) 556-3448, or at City Hall on North Louisville Street.

IF YOU GO

What: Harlem tree lighting

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Harlem City Hall, 320 N. Louisville Street

What: Fort Gordon’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: Barton Field Outdoor Theater

 

What: Grovetown tree lighting

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Robinson Avenue at Old Wrightsboro Road

 

What: Grovetown Christmas parade

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Robinson Avenue from Summerfield to Harlem-Grovetown Road

What: Columbia County’s Christmas in America Tree Lighting Ceremony

When: 3-7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Evans Towne Center Park

 

What: Columbia County Merchants Association 47th annual Christmas parade

When: 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: Evans Town Center Boulevard to Washington Road and North Belair Road to Cox Road

What: Christmas in the Heart of Downtown Harlem and Christmas parade

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dec. 10; parade begins at noon

Where: Downtown Harlem. Parade runs from Harlem City Park on Milledgeville Road to North Louisville Street to Harlem Middle School.

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