Three upcoming ceremonies will light up Columbia County for the holidays.
Harlem will be the first location to illuminate on Thursday when the city holds its 18th annual Christmas-tree lighting in front of Harlem City Hall at 320 N. Louisville St.
"It's always a big event here," said organizer Denise Carter. "You couldn't find a place to stand in the grounds in front of city hall (last year)."
The event will start at 6:30 p.m. with choruses from North Harlem Elementary and Harlem Middle schools singing Christmas songs for the audience.
After the 14-foot tree is lit, Santa Claus will welcome children inside city hall, Carter said.
Hot chocolate and cookies will be given to guests during the ceremony.
The rest of the city's downtown area is also decorated for the season, Carter said.
"We have the old-fashioned light poles, so they're all wrapped with garland, lights and ribbon," Carter said. "It's real pretty."
On Friday, Grovetown will hold its annual seasonal festivities in the center of the city at Old Wrightsboro Road near East and West Robinson Avenue.
"For us, it's kind of like, OK, the season is here now," said event coordinator Vicky Capetillo . "We can officially start Christmas."
The ceremony will start at 6:30 p.m. and choirs from several Grovetown churches have been asked to perform. Grovetown Middle School's band will also play as the 20-foot tree is lit.
Santa Claus will again be this year's honorary tree-lighter.
"We're expecting him as our special guest," Capetillo said. "He hasn't RSVP'd yet, but usually he never lets us down."
Several buildings in Grovetown's downtown area will light up as well, said Capetillo.
Cookies, hot chocolate and coffee will be passed out to the crowd.
The final tree-lighting event in the county will start at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Columbia County Amphitheater and Memorial Gardens.
The 10th annual Christmas in America Festival will feature a mass children's choir from eight county elementary schools in addition to a dance presentation by A&E Dance Studio, with members performing to Christmas music, said Columbia County Community Events Manager Stacie Adkins.
Grovetown High School choral students will sing the national anthem and perform two Christmas songs.
"I think it's going to be nice -- a good way to kick off the season," Adkins said.
The 20-foot Carolina Blue Sapphire Cypress tree, located near the park's playground, will be lit at about 6:30 p.m. Honorary tree-lighters this year are retiring school board member Mickie Blackburn and the 2010 Columbia County Merchants Association Fair Queen Lacey Ferguson.
Santa will arrive to visit with children at 5 p.m., and arts and crafts vendors will also be on site. Vineyard Church will pass out free hot chocolate and coffee.
This year, an additional snow machine will join two snowmen to create a winter wonderland near the tree.
Other areas of the park to be lit include the gazebo, fence, light poles and smaller trees surrounding the amphitheater.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.