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Magic of Christmas: Festival off Main set for Dec. 1-2

The Magic of Christmas begins Friday, Dec. 1 with McDuffie's annual tree lighting ceremony at 6:15 p.m. The wonder for all ages continues through the weekend with Breakfast with Santa, the Festival off Main and peaks with a night parade through downtown on Saturday.

Tree Lighting, 6:15-9 p.m., Friday, at the Depot

The evening begins with groups from each local elementary school singing at 6:15. The arrival of Santa and lighting of the tree will immediately follow these mini-concerts.

"Then everybody is invited back into the Depot, where they will have pictures with Santa," said Carolyn Gilbert, the director of the Chamber of Commerce.

The photos with Santa are $5, but other activities are free - making a Christmas ornament, making reindeer food and face painting. Mrs. Gilbert said each child will also receive a balloon from Santa.

Children may do their Christmas shopping at Santa's Secret Shop in the Annex. All items are $1 and include gift wrapping.

The Wrightsboro Foundation will sell hot dogs, potato chips and chili; and the Junior Woman's Club will sell hot chocolate, sodas and boiled peanuts.

Depot Dash, 9 a.m., Saturday

The annual 5K Depot Dash will be held on Dec. 2. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. on Journal Street in downtown Thomson. The course will wind through the streets of Thomson, and the finish line is on Journal Street. The race begins promptly at 9 a.m, and runners are asked to check in at least 30 minutes early. Race packets will be provided to all racers, and a long sleeve T-shirt will be provided to the first 125 who register.

"(Registrations) are coming in a little bit quicker this year than last year, so I'm expecting, weather working with us, a little bigger crowd," said Brad Adams, the race committee chairman. "Everybody can come burn off all the turkey they ate...the five pieces of pie and then sitting...watching football."

Runners have many opportunities to win awards, including a cash prize to the overall winners, trophies for overall male and female winners, and trophies by age group for males and females.

Racers are encouraged to stay after the race and enjoy the festival.

Pre-registration is at the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Thomson, or an application form can be printed from For more information, contact the Chamber at 597-1000. Pre-registration by November 24 is $15, and registering the day of the event is $20.

Breakfast with Santa, 10 a.m. Saturday

Children and their parents may enjoy a breakfast in the Depot with Santa, Mrs. Claus and elves. The breakfast is catered by Grits and Greens. There will be no photographer for pictures with Santa on Saturday morning, but Mrs. Gilbert said parents may bring their own camera.

Mrs. Claus will read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.

Seating for the breakfast is limited to 100. Advanced tickets may be purchased from the Chamber of Commerce. For more information, call 706-597-1000.

Festival, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Saturday

This year's festival boasts 132 vendors, which is nine more than last year, according to Vendor Chairman Johnette Bell. Mrs. Bell said she has organized the layout to accommodate more space for the vendors, and the children's rides will be in their own area behind Ivery's and the District Attorney's office.

Crafters include jewelry, live flower arrangements, blankets and quilts, custom clothes, dolls, handmade knives, handcrafted soaps and lotions, stained glass, custom mailboxes, outdoor metal sculptures, jams and jellies, fudge, Christmas ornaments, leathercraft and shawls.

A special this year is the Build-A-Bear vendor, which parents normally have to travel to a mall to find.

Artists will include watercolor, oil, pen drawings, and portraits done on the spot. Potters also will be demonstrating their talents during the festival.

"I'm real, real excited because we have such a huge variety of crafters, everything from painted glass to bent wrought iron," Mrs. Bell said. "There will be a lot of unique gifts, one-of-a-kind original gifts."

Food vendors include barbecue and ribs, fried fish, funnel cakes, smoked turkey legs, sausage sticks, boiled peanuts, a mashed potato bar, Italian deli and shish-ka-bobs.

According to Mrs. Bell, the vendors are from "all over the whole state of Georgia," Florida, North Carolina, Alabama and South Carolina.

Mrs. Bell said there also will be informative exhibits for adults, a wildlife exhibit, live pony rides and face and hair painting for children.

Live entertainment throughout the day will include the Crosstie Walkers, the Thomson High Jazz Band, the Briarwood Chorus and others.

Magic of Christmas Parade, 5:30 p.m. Saturday

This year's parade theme, "The Magic of Christmas," will light up the night at the county's first night time parade. The parade begins at 5:30 p.m. at Thomson Middle School on Main Street, and will end at Thomson Elementary School on Fluker Street.

"Everybody is excited about it being at night," said Debbie Jones, a parade committee member. "I think it'll be great for Thomson. It'll make Christmas downtown more elaborate."

Other parade "firsts" this year will be emcees, a live broadcast on WTHO radio and out-of-town judges.

According to Camille Ruddick, parade organizer, the emcees and judges will be on a stage at the Knox Shopping Center.

"They will judge them then, while they're moving," Mrs. Ruddick said. "So nobody will know who the winners are until after the fact."

Mrs. Ruddick added that the new judging procedure is due to the night parade. She said the entries may not be lit up while they are waiting for the start. She said the judges are Pam Eaton, who is a city council member and antique shop owner from Washington, Ga., and Steven Uhles, the entertainment editor at The Augusta Chronicle.

Emcees will be Bob Flanders and Pat Wilson. A parade Grand Marshall has not yet been chosen.

"We've had locals for the last several years, and so we're trying to find somebody famous that will excite the kids," Mrs. Ruddick said. "But we have some other irons in the fire, so it may be a local person."

Web posted on Thursday, November 23, 2006

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