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Posted: December 6, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Christmas magic at Chimney Park

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A place to play: Chimney Park is transformed into a winter wonderland with Christmas lights and a recently installed church steeple.

For the first time in what is hoped to become an annual holiday tradition, Newton County families can enjoy Christmas lights and figurines in the woods at "Twilights at Chimney Park" on Sunday, Dec. 7.

From 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. that day families can enjoy multiple lighted Christmas trees and Christmas figures, including an authentic church steeple lit for the season at the planned site of Chimney Park, which is located behind the Newton County Library.

Santa Claus will be on hand for personal visits as will local music performers including nationally-known storyteller Andy Irwin and strolling carolers from the Oxford Youth Singers.

Tickets to the event are $15 for adults, $5 for children and $35 for a family. Hot dogs, popcorn, hot chocolate and marshmallows for roasting on a bonfire will be included in the ticket price, which is a tax-deductible donation to the Friends of Newton Parks.

The Satsuki Garden Club will host a table where children can craft natural ornaments to hang on a tree for the birds and local photographer Kimberly Brown will be on hand to take photos with Santa. Tickets will be available in advance at Covington Cooks and United Bank, as well as at the door.

Volunteers from Friends of Newton Parks, Hands On Newton, First Baptist Church and Oxford College are helping prepare for the event.

"It’s a true community effort," said Terry Smith, chairman of Friends of Newton Parks. "Construction plans for the park have slowed with the economy, so this is our way of maintaining interest in this historical urban forest setting. We hope to introduce a whole new audience to the site with a fun and festive afternoon to set the stage for Christmas."

Chimney Park has been designed with some features particularly for special needs children and their families and will have an emphasis on passive play, nature education and preservation, creativity and imagination.

The lights at Chimney Park can be viewed each Tuesday and Thursday in December after Dec. 7 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. during the library’s evening hours.

"The more people we can expose to the need for preservation of the natural wonders that we enjoy in this county, the better our future will be," said Barbara Morgan, vice chair of Friends of Newton Parks. "It’s our hope and intention for it to become an annual event."

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