The winners from Richmond Hill’s holiday contests are as follows:
Chili Cook-Off: Grand Prize, Notch 8; fist runner-up, Smoking Guns; second runner-up, Molly McPherson’s; third runner-up: Richmond Hill City Center.
Commercial floats: first place, Golden Wolf Riding Academy; second place, Life Moves Dance Studio; third place, Heritage Bank; fourth place, Gub-Gub’s Ice Cream &Coffee Club.
Nonprofit floats: first place, St. Anne’s Catholic Church; second place, First Christian Academy; third place, St. Anne’s Pre-School.
Performing groups: first, Calvary Day School Varsity & JV Cheerleaders; second, Richmond Hill High School Basketball Cheerleaders; third, ATA Martial Arts.
Youth groups: first, Cub Scout Pack 527; second, Cub Scout Pack 400; third, Girl Scouts of America.
Bands: first, Bradwell Institute; second, Windsor Forest High School; third, Groves High School; fourth, Bryan County High School; No. 1 Crowd Pleaser, Bradwell Institute.
Other awards: Judge’s Award – Best in Show, Golden Wolf Riding Academy; Mayor’s Choice Award, St. Anne’s Catholic Church; Best Use of Theme, St. Anne’s Catholic Church;
Boat parade: Best Overall, “Knot Fishin,’” Capt. Mark Gordon; Best Decorated, “Hadda Dream,” Capt. Kyle Christenson; Most Holiday Spirit, “Haulin’ ‘S,’” Capt. Frank Desmond; Charlie Brown Award, “Serendipity,” Capt. Steven Urreta.
Richmond Hill hosted Christmas-themed events, driving South Bryan residents out of their homes and marking the beginning of the holiday season in the city.
Events included the Christmas parade and flotilla, but it all started with the ninth annual Chili Cook-Off kicked off the weekend’s events Friday evening in J.F. Gregory Park. Around 700 people attended the event, buying Styrofoam cups or paper bowls filled with chili from 16 different vendors. There were other groups selling desserts, crafts and hot chocolate while Santa and Mrs. Claus posed for pictures with kids.
“We thought it went very well,” said Dana Brown, one of the organizers of the event.
It was the first time attending the Chili Cook-Off for Pat Stephenson, 43, of Richmond Hill and his family. By the early evening, he had tasted two bowls of chili and planned to hit up some more stands before calling it a night.
“It’s pretty cool,” he said.
Elizabeth Mencha, with the 13th Colony Patriots, a Tea Party Group, said it was her group’s first year participating in the cook-off. She and two other volunteers served “champion chili” and planned to donate money from chili sales to the Wounded Warriors Project.
“We’re excited to do it,” Mencha said.
The Patriots made 10 gallons of homemade chili, though Mencha said she couldn’t reveal what gave her stew a kick. She did say that there were two secret ingredients that made the chili “very special.”
Kim Lee, with Hot Lips Chili of Tallahassee, Fla., almost ran out of her chili within an hour. She and her husband Stuart, who live part-time in Richmond Hill, served the dish with Fritos, cheese and other fixings.
“It’s flying off,” she said of her chili.
Lee also couldn’t reveal what made her chili so good, saying the ingredients are secret. But she did say why she thought her dish was in high demand: “I have really good cornbread.”
Andra Steele and Billy Rae Cole of Savor Savannah Catering also ran out of chili. They offered people with naked chili bowls fixings, including jalapeños and sour cream they had left over.
Richmond Hill City Councilman Russ Carpenter, Vernon Rushing, the city’s Fire chief, and Father Joe Smith from St. Anne’s Catholic Church each tasted all 16 chili recipes submitted and picked four winners.
Next up on the festivities itinerary was the 15th annual Hometown Christmas Parade on Saturday morning in Richmond Hill. Mayor Harold Fowler led the parade as the grand marshal.
The day went very well and the weather was perfect, said Nancy Frye, one of the parade organizers.
“Everyone enjoyed it,” she said. “Everyone’s spirits were up.”
Hundreds of people lined the street or claimed their spot along the parade route with a folding chair. Onlookers dressed in their best festive outfits. Some even dressed their dogs up in holiday garments.
Local Boys and Girl Scout troops, school groups, church groups, dancer, businesses and school bands from all over the area participated, marching on foot or riding along the on homemade floats, embracing the “Christmas on the Coast” theme with beach or fishing scenes.
“I think [the parade is] great,” said Gib Robinson, “[It’s] much bigger than last year. More floats, more bands.”
Robinson and his wife, Bernie, live in South Bryan, and come to the Richmond Hill holiday festivities almost every year.
“We love it. It’s a good hometown parade,” said Bernie Robinson. “We’re doing the whole thing. We came to the Chili Cook-Off last night, and we’re going to the boat parade tonight.”
Buffy Shanholtzer, who recently moved to Richmond Hill from England, also enjoyed the Christmas parade.
“It was very nice, really good for the kids,” she said.
Billy Albritton, Shirley Hires and Steve Lane served as judges for the parade and picked winners for eight categories.
The Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce also held its second annual Christmas Stroll after the parade to promote shopping locally. Residents roamed through more than 40 stores in the city limits and South Bryan to shop and enter to win prizes from each store and a grand prize from the chamber.
Marsha King of Richmond Hill won the $500 grand prize.
“We hope they spend it in Richmond Hill,” said Bonnie Proctor, an organizer for the stroll.
She said there was a good turnout for the stroll.
“We think it went really well,” she said.
Holiday festivities in South Bryan ended with the 20th Christmas on the Ogeechee Boat Parade. Thirteen boats, decked out in holiday lights and decorations sailed down the river Saturday night, starting at the Point near Cape Hardwick subdivision and ending at the Fort McAllister Marina.
“This event was sponsored by the Offshore Outlaws,” said Tim Gaylor, who emceed the event. “We’re a fishing club, and we’ve done this event for the past four years. It’s a lot of fun.”
Hallie D. Martin, Katie McGurl and Glad Doggett contributed to this report.