Today is the deadline for contributions for Columbia Countys Light the Tree campaign, the fund-raiser for the planned Dec. 1 Christmas in America celebration at the Evans Government Complex.
Conceived as a modest tree-lighting ceremony, the event has blossomed into what already promises to be a memorable occasion. The tree itself, donated by local Christmas-tree merchant Jeff Cash (his stand is on Washington Road across from Club Car) will be lit with more than 1,000 bulbs at 6 p.m. on Dec. 1.
Lighting that tree is the task of donors from all across Columbia County, who have responded with gifts from $5 to $300 to help purchase the lights and pay rental costs on equipment for the event. All donors will be applauded in a News-Times display, and in a segment of the Dec. 1 ceremony.
And what a ceremony it will be. Members of Harlem Highs JROTC will raise the flag while Terri Gibbs sings the National Anthem to open the event at 5 p.m., and honored guests will flip the switch to turn on the lights at 6. In between, the Columbia County Choral Society will perform holiday songs, and a mass chorus of school children will sing - and then lead a sing-along with the audience.
Beginning with Santas arrival at 4 p.m., children can have their pictures taken with the jolly old elf. Members of the Evans High Band, raising money for a prestigious - and expensive - trip to perform in England will serve as elves. Even earlier, shoppers can visit the crafters at the site starting at 3 p.m.
The event comes just after the Grovetown Christmas Parade earlier in the day, and precedes the Merchants Association of Columbia County Christmas Parade the next day. The weekend of Dec. 1-2 promises to be the real kickoff to the holiday season.
Meanwhile, time is running out for donors who would like to help light the countys official tree - and honor or remember a loved one in the process, with a tax-deductible donation. Forms for donations are available in the newspapers offices in the News-Times Professional Park, 4143 Columbia Road.
Help light the tree - and then plan to enjoy the festivities the first weekend in December!
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