The memorial gardens behind the Columbia County Library took on a yuletide look Nov. 9 with the planting of the county's new official Christmas tree.
George Fuller III, the owner of Four Seasons Landscaping in Grovetown, donated the 20-foot-tall Carolina Sapphire cypress, which he said is the same variety as the former official Christmas tree at the Evans Judicial Center.
Crews from Treespaders of Greenville, S.C., planted the 6-year-old cypress in the memorial gardens near the former Evans Middle School arch.
The tree will be lighted Dec. 2 during the sixth annual Christmas In America celebration, which is sponsored by Columbia County's Community Events Department, The Columbia County News-Times and is supported by community donations.
Fuller said the variety of cypress, a hybrid of an Arizona Cypress and Eastern Red Cedar, is perfect for Christmas and should top out at about 40 feet when fully mature.
It is resistant to summer heat and most insects and has a pleasing shape, he said.
"It will be here for another 100 years, hopefully," he said.
Christmas In America will begin with the arrival of Santa Claus at 4:30 p.m. and a performance by the Lakeside High School Jazz Ensemble, followed by a drawing in The Augusta Chronicle's Make Kids Count scholarship bond contest.
More entertainment, featuring a sing-along led by the Columbia County Elementary School Mass Chorus, led this year by Stevens Creek Elementary School music teacher Robin Chaly, and a performance the Vineyard Church Praise Band, begins at 5:30 p.m.
The tree lighting will follow at 6:30 p.m., and the Vineyard band will perform afterward.
Barry Smith, the director of the county's Community and Leisure Services department, said the amphitheater will be an improvement over the Evans courthouse as a venue for Christmas In America.
"It's got a stage that's perfect for the choir, which is perfect for the event," he said, adding that it is a more intimate venue.
Lena Talukadar, the 2006 Columbia County Fair Queen, and Columbia County Teacher of the Year Penny Barclay will serve as honorary tree lighters. North Columbia Elementary School fourth-grader Jamiah Hudson will sing the national anthem.
Food and Christmas-themed arts and crafts will be sold during the event.
The tree-lighting starts a weekend of holiday festivities that continues Dec. 3 with the Columbia County Merchants Association's annual Martinez-Evans Christmas Parade.
Now in its second year on an Evans route, the parade begins at 2 p.m. at the Evans Town Center Park across from the Justice Center and will travel on Ronald Reagan Drive to Washington Road, east to Belair Road and south along Belair Road to end at Cox Road.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: The sixth annual Christmas In America celebration
WHERE: The Columbia County Memorial Gardens and Amphitheater behind the library
WHEN: 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 2
For more information, contact Columbia County Community and Leisure Services at (706) 868-3484 or visit www.columbiacountyga.gov.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.