Harlem and Grovetown officials are turning on the Christmas spirit with the lighting of city Christmas trees and holiday parades.
Harlem lights up the night first with the annual Christmas tree lighting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday on the lawn of Harlem City Hall at 320 N. Louisville St. Guests can enjoy free hot chocolate, popcorn and holiday music from the Harlem Elementary School chorus, Harlem Middle School ensemble and Harlem United Methodist Church’s Children’s Choir.
Santa will be visiting with children.
Grovetown’s annual tree lighting at the Grovetown Senior Center will be at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Officials will hit the switch on lights around the entire intersection of Robinson Avenue and Old Wrightsboro Road, said Community Events Coordinator Jennifer Evans.
“Santa will be there giving out candy canes and taking pictures,” Evans said.
The event will include live entertainment from the Grovetown Middle School band and Grovetown First Baptist Church choir and free hot chocolate and cookies.
The 39th annual Grove-town Christmas parade will begin at noon Saturday on Harlem-Grovetown Road near Grovetown Middle School.
The parade will wind along Harlem-Grovetown Road and Robinson Avenue to Summerfield subdivision at Fellowship Baptist Church.
More than 50 entries in the popular city holiday tradition include high school marching bands, schools, businesses, boy and girl scouts and civic groups, Evans said.
Harlem will wrap up the pre-Christmas events with the 11th annual Christmas in Downtown Harlem Festival and Parade on Dec. 14. The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes more than 50 arts and crafts vendors and a Christmas Cookie Challenge, said Special Events Coordinator Stacie Hart.
“I’m very excited,” Hart said of the contest she hopes to make an annual event.
Those wanting to enter need to register by Dec. 11 by contacting Hart at (706) 556-0043 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Entry is free.
Cooks should prepare three dozen festive holiday cookies for judging and sharing. The cookies have to be made from scratch and the recipe should be written on an index card. The winning recipe will be published in the city’s January newsletter.
The contest will be held at the Laurel and Hardy Museum of Harlem.
Harlem’s holiday parade will begin at 11 a.m. Dec. 14 beginning at the Harlem City Park. The parade, including a variety of entries, will move along Milledgeville Road to North Louisville and will end at Harlem Middle School on West Forrest Street.