published: Friday, November 30, 2012
Christmas celebration is Dec. 8
ROXANNE BROWN | Staff Writer
The City of Groveland is preparing for its 21st annual Christmas celebration set for Dec. 8 starting with the 4 p.m. parade, a tradition that everyone, especially the children, line up along the streets for.
If one attends, most of the children can be seen with their plastic bags ready and open wide in anticipation of the candy they will be receiving.
Community Redevelopment Agency Manager Deandrae Spradley, charged with coordinating the holiday festivities, said this year will be no different since all the participants are prepared to toss the goodies out as usual.
"We have bags and bags of candy ready for the parade," Spradley said. "Although the holiday season is already in full swing, it's a nice event for the entire family and it gets the kids excited."
The parade is set to begin at North Illinois Avenue and East Orange Street (State Road 50) intersection. Participants will then turn left onto S.R. 50 (heading wrong way on S.R. 50); left onto South Main Avenue; right onto Swanson Road; right onto South Lake Avenue; and right onto Cherry Street.
More than 25 entries for the parade are expected, including Santa and Mrs. Claus, who make their annual appearance at the end of the line atop one of Groveland's fire trucks, and surprise "Disney" characters, who are participating for the third year.
The grand marshal this year is Judge James Baxley, a Lake County native who was appointed county court judge in June 2010 by Gov. Charlie Christ. He took office on July 15, 2010.
At 6 p.m., newly elected Mayor Jim Gearhart will lead the official "Light Up Groveland" ceremony with a welcome, the tree lighting and musical accompaniment by the Cecil E. Gray Middle School band.
"A lot of people look forward to the event," Gearhart said. "It brings the community together and into the Christmas spirit. I hope this coming year, we can do some more things to bring the community together, and I'd like to encourage more businesses to get involved.
"I'd also like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, though I hope to see everyone there," said the mayor.
Children in attendance will also be invited into the Lake David Center, 450 S. Lake Ave., for a visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus.
"Be sure to come in and receive your free photo," Spradley said.
The Christmas Stroll, another holiday favorite, will run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the churches located on Main Street. There will be entertainment, carolers, refreshments and other treats to be enjoyed by participants at each stop.
Participating this year are Groveland Baptist Church, First Baptist of Groveland, Zion Lutheran and Edge Memorial United Methodist Church.
Spradley said each stop will also feature some sort of Christmas-themed entertainment, including a live nativity at one, and local school or church choirs singing carols at another.
The events are all free but the city is suggesting that participants bring
one new, unwrapped toy for the city's donation to Toys for Tots. Toys can be dropped off at city hall, Spradley said.
Two new things have been added by the city as a way of making sure the Christmas spirit in everyone extends beyond the Dec. 8 celebration and sticks around for the remainder of the month.
Food vendors will for the first time be at located just outside the Puryear Building, with tasty foods to liven up attendees during the Light Up ceremony.
In addition -- and after a long hiatus -- all the trees down the Main Street corridor in the downtown area have been decorated and will be lit up for the enjoyment of the entire city throughout the month.
"We are bringing the tradition back after it hasn't been done for about 10 years," Spradley said. "People had been asking for it, and we thought it would be nice for the community to have that. It's something we wanted to do for our residents."