In a time-honored holiday tradition, a special honoree will lead the countdown and flip the switch Thursday in the annual lighting of the Newton County Historic Courthouse.
Josephine Kelly, director of Mainstreet Covington, said festivities on the square will begin at 5 p.m. with the arrival of Santa Claus.
“He arrives by carriage, which is sponsored by United Bank,” Kelly said.
After circling the square, Santa will stop at his satellite workshop located at the Ramsey’s Furniture Annex on Clark Street. There Special Moments Photography will snap portraits of those who want their photo taken with Santa.
Abigail Coggin, program director for The Arts Association in Newton County, said the Oxford Singing Children have been busy preparing for the lighting. The singers, who are fourth through seventh grade students, will perform two carols.
“The audience will have an opportunity to join in the carols,” Coggin said.
The Community Band, under the direction of T.K. Adams, will accompany the Oxford Singing Children as well as perform songs on their own. Members of the cast of the Covington Regional Ballet will also be on hand in their Nutcracker costumes.
“There will be lots of surprises,” Coggin said.
Vince Dooley, former football coach and athletic director of the University of Georgia, will be at Mayfield Ace Hardware on the square to sign books before, during and after the lighting event.
The lighting of the courthouse will begin at 6 p.m. The person selected from dozens of nominees to light the courthouse will remain unknown until the announcement immediately before the lighting.
While Kelly could not divulge who this year’s honoree is, she said this person has been a “diligent volunteer and advocate of the community” and is an “unsung hero.”
The lighting ceremony kicks off extended holiday hours for shops in the downtown district. Attendees will have the chance to play Elf on the Shelf, which is a scavenger hunt in the downtown stores that can earn participants Mainstreet Bucks in $5, $10 and $25 denominations. Mainstreet Bucks can be used at any participating downtown merchant.
Giveaways from the Holiday Fun Team include Main Street Bucks, holiday event calendars and hot chocolate provided by The Covington News.
Kelly said Main Street Bucks alone should draw a large number of people to the square for the event.
“These businesses made Covington Covington,” Kelly said, “and with the economy like it is, it makes sense to shop locally and keep as much money here as we can.”
For more information on this event, downtown merchants and other holiday events, visit www.downtowncovington.org.