When the Richmond Hill Christmas parade gets under way today at 10 a.m., it will be led by a grand marshal who holds a special place in the city’s history. And then some.
"There wouldn’t be a Richmond Hill without people like Tommy Darieng," Mayor Richard Davis said. "He is a very important figure in the history of this community."
Darieng is the only living member remaining of the first Richmond Hill City Council, when the city was incorporated in 1962. It was Darieng who developed the marina and the park at Fort McAllister in the 1960s. He is also credited with connecting the city to natural gas.
"He was the first person to welcome me to Bryan County and make me feel at home," said County Commissioner Toby Roberts. "Tommy and his family have contributed so much to this community and have helped make it the great place it is today."
Davis said he suggested Darieng as the grand marshal as a token of appreciation for his dedication to the city. He said Darieng has been a dear friend of his for many years. In fact, their relationship traces back to Ford days when both their fathers worked for Henry Ford.
"Tommy has played an active role in this community during the 46 years that Richmond Hill has existed," Davis said. "From city business to the volunteer fire department – you name it. Tommy has always taken a great interest in this community and has served it well. I can’t think of a more deserving Grand Marshal to make this holiday celebration a special one."
Darieng and his family will lead the parade from its starting point at Richmond Hill Primary and Elementary schools, along Linwood Ave., left on Cherry St., left on Ford Ave. to City Hall, left on Richard R. Davis Dr., right on Cedar St. into J.F. Gregory Park.
The parade will also feature heavy military involvement in conjunction with this year’s theme – Home for the Holidays.
Darieng said he is especially proud to lead a parade with military participation and gives "a salute to our service military men for keeping us safe." He said Christmas is his favorite time of year and there are few things he loves more than this community, "so this is a great honor."
Immediately following the parade, the annual Christmas Xtravaganza will get started at Station Xchange across the street from J.F. Gregory Park. This year, the event will feature a ‘winter wonderland’ with real snow, Christmas music, local performing artists, a petting zoo, photos with Santa, ornament making stations, a cookie decorating station, complimentary candy canes and hot cocoa.
On Saturday night, the spotlight will shift over to the Fort McAllister Marina for the Christmas on the Ogeechee lighted boat parade, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Awards will be presented to the best in show and attractions will include live music, food, and beverages after the parade.
On Sunday, the Richmond Hill Dance Theater will host ‘Santa’s Gift Shop’. Youngsters will be able to select gifts for their family members, with many selections available for $1-$5.
For more information, visit the City of Richmond Hill’s website at www.richmondhill-ga.gov.