Communities kicked off the holiday season throughout Columbia County this weekend by lighting their Christmas trees.
Rachel Renshaw, 7, sits in Santa's lap during Christmas in America, the lighting of Columbia County's Christmas tree in Evans on Saturday.
Photo by Barry Paschal
Families gathered on the front lawn of Harlem City Hall on Thursday clutching cups of hot chocolate as Christmas carols performed by the Harlem Middle School band and chorus and North Columbia Elementary School chorus floated into the chilly night air.
Ashley Bruce, 15, of Harlem, held up her 7-year-old brother, Amos McClure III, over the crowd so he could see their 9-year-old sister, Brittany McClure, perform carols such as Let It Snow and Jingle Bell Rock with an elementary school band.
"She's been practicing those songs all week," Ashley said.
Recently named Miss City of Harlem, Lauren Thompson flipped the switch illuminating the city's official tree.
Grovetown officials lighted more than just a Christmas tree at the city's celebration Friday. Residents packed into the parking lot of the Grovetown Senior Center and the city's fire station No. 2 as Santa Claus hit the switch, illuminating an extensive light display covering the center, the fire station, the gazebo, the Grovetown Museum and the new pavilion at the corner of West Robinson Avenue and Old Wrightsboro Road.
"This is the first official event of Christmas," said city councilman David Daughtry just before the countdown. "As soon as we get these lights lit, if there is any power left in the city, Christmas has begun."
The Grovetown Middle School band entertained the crowd with holiday classics before the Grovetown Elementary School chorus got the crowd singing along.
In Evans, residents celebrated Saturday with food and caroling at Columbia County's fourth annual Christmas in America celebration and tree-lighting event.
Marissa Benitez, 10, of Grovetown, sings with the Grovetown Elementary School chorus at Grovetown's annual tree-lighting ceremony Friday.
Photo by Valerie Rowell
The event at the county's Justice Center featured holidays songs, crafts vendors, pictures with Santa, hot chocolate and performances by the Vineyard Church praise band, Greenbrier High School's JROTC, the Columbia County Elementary Schools Mass Chorus and more.
Honorary tree lighters were Greenbrier's 2004 AAAA state championship softball team and Reese Hoffa, a record-holding Olympic shot-putter and an alumnus of Lakeside High School.
Barry Smith, the director of the county's Community and Leisure Services division, said the county Christmas tree stands 35 feet tall and has about 800 lights.
Jada McCladdie, 4, of Evans, said she enjoyed the singing, but she had a different reason for participating in the night's activities.
"I wanted to see Santa Claus," she said.
Karyne Tiller, 17, said she was pleased with the night's festivities.
"Tonight has been fun," said the Greenbrier student.
"This was my first time. I liked the music and just how the people have come together."
• Holiday season begins
• Harlem prepares events for memorable Christmas fun
• A photo gallery celebrates a weekend of holiday events
• Abilene Baptist Church again presents its Singing Christmas Tree
• Stevens Creek Community Church prepares a Christmas drama
• A list of winners in the Grovetown and Martinez parades
• Holidays can be difficult for those dealing with grief
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.