Christmas in America needs your help.
Santa Claus listenmms to the Christmas wishes on Megan Sabol after the first Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at the Evans Government Complex.
12/01/01 Jim Blaylock NEWS-TIMES
Photo by Jim Blaylock
The Columbia County Christmas tree lighting, entitled Christmas in America, will be from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7 at the new Columbia County Justice Center. To help make the event possible, the county is asking the general public to sponsor lights on the tree in honor or memory of loved ones, or just to show their civic pride.
"(The event features) the lighting of the tree, live entertainment and hot beverages, like hot chocolate," said Frank Neal, the director of the Columbia County Community Services Division.
Neal said the event will cost approximately $2,000. Sponsorship levels are $20 for platinum, $10 for gold and $5 for silver. Each sponsor, along with those they are honoring or memorializing, will be listed in the official program. All donations will be used to fund the tree lighting ceremony and are tax deductible.
The focal point of the annual event will be a new tree soon to be planted in front of the new courthouse. Though it has not been decided what type of tree will be planted, the choices have been narrowed down to a Cryptomeria japonica, also know as a Japanese Cedar, or a Cupressolyparis leylandii, commonly referred to as a Leyland cypress.
"Last year, we used a temporary tree because we were waiting for the new courthouse to be completed," said Columbia Country Board of Commissions Chairman Jim Whitehead, who is also an organizer of Christmas in America. "This year, we're going to permanently place a beautiful, 20-foot tall tree that we'll be using as our Christmas tree for years to come. It's really going to be very beautiful when we throw the switch."
In addition to celebrating Christmas, this year's tree lighting ceremony will honor Pearl Harbor Day and the brave men served at Pearl Harbor. In fact, the county is hoping to find veterans who where stationed at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked to serve as honorary tree lighters.
Pearl Harbor veterans, or those who know a Pearl Harbor veteran, living in the area are asked to contact The Columbia News-Times at 868-1222 or the Columbia County Community and Leisure Services Division at 868-3484.
"We called it Christmas in America in honor of 9/11, and last year we honored our rescue workers like our Sheriff's Department, EMTs, firefighters and so on," said Whitehead, who will deliver the welcome address at the tree lighting. "This year, being that we'll be holding this on Pearl Harbor Day, we're hoping to honor our veterans who were there and lived through it."
Others participating in the event include News Channel 6 anchorperson Jennie Montgomery, Greenbrier JROTC, Columbia Country Choral Society, Columbia County schools mass chorus, the Vineyard Church of Augusta band and, of course, Santa Claus.
Santa will arrive at 4:30 p.m. via fire truck and will be available for pictures before and after the ceremony. Proceeds from the pictures will benefit the Evans High School debate team. The Greenbrier High School Jazz Ensemble will perform while pictures are being taken.
Those wishing to sponsor the event should make their checks payable to Columbia County Arts Inc. Mail or hand-deliver completed forms currently being published in The Columbia News-Times, along with the check, to: Light the Tree, News-Times Professional Park, 4143 Columbia Road Suite B, Martinez, GA 30907. All contributions must be received by Nov. 29.
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