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Warning: The Christmas spirit is catching
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I have always felt sorry for those folks that see Christmas right around the corner and complain they just can’t get in the Christmas Spirit. If you live near Covington and you name is not Scrooge you have no excuse to fail to get the Christmas Spirit.

The heart of our city is a great place to find the Christmas Spirit. It all started on Nov. 20 when on a beautiful fall evening there were three hours of fun and music. The music of Christmas came from the Bell Choir of the Allen Memorial United Methodist Church, singers from Livingston Elementary School, the Oxford Singing Children, the Newton County Community Band, the Covington Regional Ballet, the Washington Street Community Center Kids, and the Living Christmas Tree from the First Baptist Church of Conyers. If you missed this evening, mark your calendar for 2015 now.
That first evening brought us music and lights as a great start for the season. For Christmas, the lights around the square and on the buildings turned downtown into a Christmas Village. There are more than 70,000 lights. The lights and decorations are so much a part of spreading the Christmas Cheer. There is a beautiful tree, a giant wreath, a place for Santa and Mrs. Claus, as well a good photo opportunity with a sign expressing the spirit of our city.

And the next three Friday nights will add another key ingredient to catching the Christmas Spirit. The focus will be on families and children. Now if your household doesn’t include children don’t let that keep you from coming, for you will find, each Friday filled with Christmas joy. Each one built around a different theme.

Talking with Valinda Wheeles, the Director the Main Street Project, I was amazed at her excitement and enthusiasm. This is her first Christmas to head up Main Street which sponsors the events for Christmas on the square. One change this year is to move three of the special nights to Friday. This means that families can stay a little longer without worrying about rushing home to get ready for school the next day. Each Friday will start at 6 p.m. and end around 9 p.m. Each Friday will be built around a character from a children’s Christmas book.

There will some events that are the same each Friday. These include Santa and Mrs. Claus, Children’s Village, Reindeer Games, Balloon Artists, Inflatable’s, an opportunity to write a letter to Santa Claus, and a S’mores Station. And every Friday there will be a trackless train going around the Square.

On the first Friday, Dec. 5, the focus will be on the Grinch who stole Christmas. You are invited to dress as your favorite Whoville Character. Also groups such as churches, youth groups, families and other are invited to bring a decorated tree with a Grinch and Whoville theme. Of course a movie featuring the Grinch who stole Christmas will be shown. The other two Friday nights will have a movie that fits the night’s theme.

Following this first special Friday night, on Saturday morning will be the annual Christmas Parade sponsored by the Covington Lion’s Club at 10 a.m. The theme for the parade this year is “Songs of the Season.” Santa and Mrs. Clause will be the highlight of the parade. You can make an appointment for a picture with Santa following the parade up till 3 p.m. The pictures will be taken by appointment at Ramsey’s Furniture Store. For an appointment contact Jordan Wright at 678-908-7753 or at Appointments are also available on the following two Saturdays, Dec. 13 and 20 from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. again at Ramsey’s.

Pictures with Santa can be taken without appointment, on a walk up bases on all three Fridays. On Friday night you are also welcome to use you own camera or phone. Friday or Saturday would be much more convenient that going a great distance to find Santa. Why not make it a family tradition to get a picture each year as you journal your year and Christmas.

The other two Friday nights, Dec. 12 and 19 each have a special theme. One the 12th the theme will be Frosty the Snowman and on the 19th the theme is Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. On Rudolph’s night bags of reindeer food will be available in preparation for Christmas Eve.

Of course during all the Friday nights the merchants downtown will be open to at least nine so that the celebrations are going on, you can get in some great shopping. Find those unique gifts you are looking for and support your friends and neighbors at the same time. Every dollar we spend in Covington is one dollar that will enrich our community. Add to your evening by not only shopping, but by dining out as well.

Now in previous years there was a emphasis on Thursday nights. The move to Friday is an attempt to make this event more family and children friendly. But for you that can’t get Thursday off your minds, it has been declared “Girls Night Out” and most merchants will be open to at least 7 p.m. to encourage you to come and shop.

Handicap parking is available at the BB&T Bank on Clark Street. Golf carts from Fat Boys will be furnishing rides from the outlying parking for those that need a lift.

Right at the heart of our city is a place that you can catch the Christmas Spirit. Come and join the celebration.

B. Wiley Stephens is a retired United Methodist Minister and author who now resides in Covington