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Twilights to light up Chimney Park
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The annual festival of lights called "Twilights at Chimney Park" will be held from 5-7:30 p.m. Dec. 8 at the popular park. Admission will be $5 per person, with children under 2 admitted free.

The celebration will feature new elements as well as familiar favorites, including Covington’s official Santa Claus, caroling school choirs, the Oxford Youth Singers, s’mores around a bonfire, hot dogs, hot chocolate and popcorn, and imaginative lighting displays. Some 1,600 children, parents and grandparents attended last year.

Every year, the Board of Friends of Newton Parks Inc. (FONP) repeats favorite elements while adding new twists.

"It’s a challenge," says Board Chair Jean Austin, "but we and our volunteers enjoy the excitement of something new as well as festival-goers!"

This year there will be a Fairy House Snow Village filled with enchanting fairy houses made of natural materials and decked out in a holiday theme. Because this year’s Fairy House Festival was canceled due to heavy rains, Linda Shore imagined a new way to use the spring-themed creations.

"For Twilights, we decided to remodel the fairy houses with holly and pine boughs, giving them a wintry, holiday feel," she said.

Also new this year will be an Elf Costume competition. At 6 p.m., those attending are invited to gather at the bridge to view the parade of small elves organized by the Eastside High School Junior Service Guild. There are four categories: children through age 4; grades K and 1; grades 2 and 3; and grades 4 and 5. First, second and third prizes will be awarded in each age group, and everyone will get a candy cane.

This year, the park has a new entrance from the parking lot at the Newton County Health Building, where ample handicap-accessible parking will be marked. There is no entry from behind the Newton County Library. By candlelight and under the watchful eye of giant Nutcrackers, those attending will wend their way up the brand-new, curving concrete pathway that will enable individuals in wheelchairs to enjoy easy access – for the first time – to the park’s events and activities.

Funds for the paved access were raised at the September Tribute to David Waller that brought more than 200 people together to honor Waller and support his commitment to Chimney Park.

Additionally, Snapping Shoals EMC donated funds for the walkway from its Unclaimed Capital Credits program.

Beginning at 5:15 p.m., school choirs will perform near the lighted church steeple. The schedule is: 5:15 p.m., Fairview Elementary; 5:45 p.m., Liberty Middle School; 6:45 p.m., Clements Middle School; and 7:15 p.m. Newton High School. The chorus from West Newton Elementary School will serenade early crowds at the entrance.

There is also an annual competition to decorate trees in all-natural or recycled materials. Liberty Middle School, Eastminster School in Conyers, and American Heritage Girls Troop GA0211 are participating.

Refreshments will be provided by several organizations: United Bank of Covington will cook and serve hot dogs; Oxford Lions Club will provide popcorn; Violets Junior Woman’s Club, hot chocolate; and the Covington Lions Club will host s’more’s around the bonfire.

The Heartland Woman’s Club will sell Christmas greenery, and Southern Heartland Art Guild member Ann Wildmon has designed and made new signs for Twilights. The Newton County Recreation Commission provides tables and water.

Actors from Dramatic Arts Productions will perform scenes from "A Christmas Carol," and Michael’s Music will provide music within the foundation of the old home that once stood on site. Boy Scout Troop 222 will direct parking and help with the bonfire.

Girl Scout Troop 2582 hand-made new lighting from chicken wire and string lights to hang in the trees.

"Twilights is even more special this year," says Austin, FONP chair, "because so many people have donated financially and with their own time and effort to prepare the park for this event."

In particular, Snapping Shoals EMC and the City of Covington collaborated to install permanent power sources within the park, with the permission of the Newton County Board of Commissioners. Students from the Newton College & Career Academy were invited to participate as a learning experience.