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The season begins
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Every year Covington residents look forward to the annual Courthouse and Christmas tree lighting on the downtown square.

This year luminaries and a Holiday Fun Team will add to the familiar decorations and carriage rides.

Main Street Covington Director Josephine Kelley said Santa and his sleigh will arrive at 5 p.m. Thursday at his Victorian workshop at Ramsey's Furniture Annex on Clark Street.

"This year we've sort of re-done the workshop and added new pieces to it," Kelley said, "and this is the sixth year we've hosted Santa visits at Ramsey's on Thursdays and Saturdays until Christmas."

Complimentary carriage rides around the square start at 5:30 p.m. this Thursday and will continue, sponsored by a different downtown business each week, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursdays until Christmas.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, the Courthouse lighting sponsored by the Arts Association in Newton County and the Newton County Board of Commissioners will take place.

"One of the special elements of the evening is when we announce the person or persons who will light the courthouse," Kelley said.

Individuals or organizations selected to light the courthouse have to be nominated in a 500-word or less essay and exhibit a dedication to community service or leadership.

Attendees also will enjoy candlelight shopping thanks to Luminaries of Hope. Representatives will be on hand on the square during and after the lighting selling the luminaries.

Proceeds from the luminaries will benefit Newton County Relay for Life and local breast cancer awareness programs.

"Something new we're doing this year is a Holiday Fun Team on the street giving out balloons and temporary tattoos as well as Main Street Bucks to spend downtown," Kelley said.

Covington Pilot Club members will be present as well to sell tickets to Santa's Downtown Breakfast Dec. 8 at the First Presbyterian Church of Covington.

Members of the Covington Rotary Club will also begin promoting drop-off boxes in different locations around the county for their annual Empty Stocking Fund.

Covington Rotary Service Project Coordinator Darrell Tanner said the Empty Stocking Fund has provided toys to the county's needy children for more than 50 years.

Tanner said this is the first year drop-boxes have collected the toys. Previously Covington Cable collected the toys for a waiver of a hook-up fee, but Tanner said Rotary has not established a deal with Charter Communications which bought Covington Cable this summer.

Donations should be dropped off by Dec. 7. Tanner said gifts should be unwrapped toys between $15 and $20, but no gift would be refused.

"We would accept a coloring book just as quickly as we would accept a bicycle," Tanner said.

Families can sign up to receive toys by bringing a valid drivers license or other proof of residence as well as a social security card for each child they would like to receive a gift to the Salvation Army on Washington St. between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. until Friday.

People may also sign up to have a fruit basket or grocery store gift card delivered to elderly family members.

Those receiving gifts must reside in Newton County.

For more information about downtown holiday events or to purchase a Luminary of Hope, call Main Street Covington at (770) 385-2077.