Grovetown will get the Christmas spirit kicked off in Columbia County on Friday with its annual Christmas tree-lighting event.
Quincey Zhong and the Lakeside High School Marching Band played tunes for the crowd at last year's Martinez Christmas Parade.
Photo by Mike Adams
The festivity will be followed by a parade in Grovetown on Saturday and a parade in Martinez on Sunday.
In the past, residents have gathered for hot chocolate and cookies before counting down to the illumination of the extensive light display covering the Grovetown Senior Center, the city's fire station No. 2, the gazebo and Grovetown Museum at the corner of West Robinson Avenue and Old Wrightsboro Road.
"They are going to light up something new, but I'm not going to tell you what it is," said Vicky Capetillo, an event organizer.
Festivities will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will feature the Grovetown Middle School band and chorus and pupils from Grovetown Elementary School.
Beginning at noon Saturday, Grovetown will fill Robinson Avenue with more than 75 parade entries from Summerfield subdivision to the IGA store as the Department of Public Safety puts on the city's 31st annual Christmas parade.
Then Martinez will get into the act. Bill Becton said he has seen parade watchers arrive as early as 7 a.m. each year to reserve a good seat along Washington Road for the annual Martinez Christmas parade.
He expects this year will be no different.
"People do look forward to it," said Becton, a member of the Merchants Association of Columbia County who is organizing the parade for his second year.
Teke Roberts, 3, of North Augusta, waved at people in the 2003 Merchants Association Christmas Parade in Martinez.
Photo by Donnie Fetter
The parade, in its 39th year, will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday at Columbia Road and Washington Road in Martinez and will travel east along Washington Road to Davant Street at the county line.
The parade has grown to be a staple of the holiday season, officially kicking it off for many Columbia County residents.
"It's hard to estimate crowds," Becton said. "But we estimate (last year) there were between 25,000 and 30,000 people along the parade route."
The parade is overseen each year by the Merchants Association of Columbia County and, since being elected in 1995, Columbia County Sheriff Clay Whittle has led the parade off as grand marshal.
Becton expects about 100 entries in this year's parade, but he said he won't know exactly what those entries will involve until he arrives at the Columbia Square meeting location at noon.
The parade will be broadcast live on television station WRDW (Channel 12).
Judges will choose a first-, second- and third-place winner in such categories as church or religious group, standard float, commercial float, marching and dancing and Scouts.
Prizes for Best Overall and Chairman's Trophy also will be awarded.
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