A festivity marking the official beginning of the Christmas season in Columbia County has a new home and a new symbol.
The county's sixth annual Christmas in America tree-lighting ceremony Saturday will feature a new Carolina sapphire cypress tree donated by Four Seasons Landscaping in Grovetown. The ceremony's new location is the amphitheater and Memorial Gardens next to the Columbia County Library in Evans.
The lighting event was formerly held in front of the Columbia County Justice Center and Courthouse Annex.
"We just moved it because of the fact the amphitheater is down there," said Brooke Willis, a community events specialist for the county.
The amphitheater also provides a stage for performers.
"It is really pretty down there with the lights reflecting off the pond. The amphitheater just seemed like the perfect place," she said.
Festivities will begin at 4:30 p.m. with the arrival of Santa Claus, followed by the final $10,000 drawing in The Augusta Chronicle's Make Kids Count scholarship contest.
There also will be entertainment featuring a sing-along led by the Columbia County Elementary Mass Chorus, led this year by Stevens Creek Elementary School music teacher Robin Chaly, and a performance by the Vineyard Church Praise band. The entertainment begins at 5:30 p.m.
Nina Talukadar, the 2006 Columbia County Fair queen and 2006-07 Columbia County Teacher of the Year Penny Barclay will serve as honorary tree lighters at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on Christmas in America, call (706) 312-7191 or (706) 312-7194.
Holiday celebrations also include the Martinez-Evans Christmas Parade, which is held annually by the Merchants Association. It is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. Sunday.
The parade will follow the same route as last year, from Ronald Reagan Drive in Evans, east on Washington Road and south on Belair Road to Bel Air Elementary School.
As many as 120 entries are expected to participate in the parade, which will be broadcast live on WRDW-TV (Channel 12) from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
For more information, call Pat Becton at (706) 863-7645 or Joan Kernaghan at (706) 860-2538.
Grovetown will glow with holiday lights after Friday's tree-lighting ceremony, which lights an entire downtown display.
Michael Woods, the city's Parks and Recreation director, said more than 55,000 lights are part of the display around the intersection of East Robinson Avenue and Old Wrightsboro Road.
"We haven't added anything new this year due to the new Memorial Wall still being under construction," Woods said.
"The areas to be lit up are the gazebo, the fountain area, the museum, the senior center and the old fire station," he said.
The event will kick off at 6 p.m. Friday with holiday entertainment from the Grovetown Middle School Band and Chorus in the parking lot of the Grovetown Senior Center. Hot chocolate and snacks will be provided.
For more information about the city's tree-lighting, call city hall at (706) 863-4576.
Grovetown will continue its holiday celebration Saturday with the 33rd annual Grovetown Christmas Parade.
Coordinator Laura McManus said the parade of more than 60 entries will begin at noon. The route begins in the Summerfield subdivision off East Robinson Avenue and will travel 1.7 miles west on East Robinson to the intersection of Harlem-Grovetown Road and Wrightsboro Road.
McManus said the parade will include commercial, youth and religious floats in addition to animal entries and school marching bands and JROTC drill teams.
For more information on the parade, call McManus at (706) 863-1212.
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