Thanksgiving leftovers are polished off and Black Friday shopping madness is over, which only means one thing for Richmond Hill: It’s the first weekend in December, and it’s time for annual holiday festivities.
Richmond Hill will start the holiday season on Friday evening with the annual Chili Cook-Off and bring festivities to a close with the Boat Parade on Saturday night. In between, there will be old traditions and some newer events to help get residents in South Bryan in the mood for the holiday season.
J.F. Gregory Park will be filled with smells of homemade chili Friday night during the 9th annual Chili Cook-Off. The event starts at 6:30 p.m. and also includes crafts, other food vendors, Silly Dilly the clown, pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and other activities for children.
The movie “Polar Express,” a holiday movie starring actor Tom Hanks, will also be shown at 8 p.m. Friday at the amphitheatre in the park.
“Basically it was established because it would be a fun family event and it wouldn’t be costly for the family,” said Nancy Frye, the zoning administrator for Richmond Hill and coordinator of the holiday events.
The festival is free, but residents will have to pay for chili, Frye said. Vendors are capped at charging $2 for a taste.
By Monday, 10 restaurants, organizations and individuals were entered into the chili competition, Frye said. They will compete for the grand prize of $350 and a trophy. First-, second- and third-place cash award and trophies will also be given out.
Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler will lead this year’s 15th Hometown Christmas Parade, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday.
The parade was originated by former Mayor Richard Davis, Frye said, and it is meant to nurture that small-town parade atmosphere.
“It’s something to give back to the town and get people involved,” she said “It draws a large amount of the people.”
The parade line up starts at the Richmond Hill Elementary schools complex and proceeds to Maple Street, Cherry Street, down Hwy. 144 to city hall, and then disperses in J.F. Gregory Park, Frye said. There will be six bands, various local businesses and organizations marching in the parade.
Each year, the committee members who organize the parade try to pick someone who is active in the city to lead the parade as the grand marshal. Mayor Fowler was this year’s choice, Frye said.
“We wanted to honor him as his first year as mayor,” she said. “We felt it was a good choice.”
Mayor Fowler said that he appreciated the title.
“I think it is quite an honor,” he said.
The Richmond Hill Chamber of Commerce will host its second annual Christmas Stroll from 11:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. at various stores in the Richmond Hill area.
Organizers said the event is meant to promote shopping locally. As of Monday afternoon, 46 businesses signed up to participate in the stroll.
“I’m really excited about the number of people participating,” Proctor said Monday.
Each store will provide light refreshments and entertainment. Shoppers can enter to win a $50 gift basket or gift card at each store, and a $500 grand prize from the Chamber of Commerce. The stores are scattered through Richmond Hill, South Bryan and Midway, and home-based businesses will be represented in the old courthouse annex building on Hwy. 144, near Hwy. 17.
The Winter 2010 Starving Artists art show will from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Station Xchange park in lieu of the Christmas Xtravaganza at The Station Xchange, according to Brandy Trout, the organizer of the show.
Trout said the event will feature at least 20 local artists selling handmade arts and crafts, paintings, drawings, jewelry, fibers, photography and other pieces of artwork for less than $100.
The event will have a street market atmosphere, and it is a great way for residents to buy unique gifts at a reasonable price, Trout said.
Festive boats will sail down the Ogeechee River on Saturday night as part of the 20th Christmas on the Ogeechee Boat Parade, and anyone with a boat is welcome to participate, said Butch Broome, one of the organizers of the event.
“It doesn’t have to be a big boat,” he said. “It can be a little boat.”
The floating parade will start at 6:30 p.m. at the Point near Cape Hardwick subdivision and will drift down to the Fort McAllister Marina, where Broome promised the biggest fireworks show in the history of Bryan County.
“The fireworks are great at the end of the parade,” said John Feckinger, the chairman of the group that organizes the boat parade. “The kids love that.”
There will also be live entertainment at the marina. Seven boats have signed up for the parade so far, Broome said, though he expects more than 20 to participate. There will be prizes awarded in different categories for holiday décor.
The boat parade has “exploded” since the first one 20 years ago, Feckinger said. It also ties in the weekend’s festivities.
Pembroke Tree Lighting
Richmond Hill isn’t the only municipality celebrating the start of the holiday season.
The city of Pembroke will host its 26th tree lighting ceremony at 4 p.m. Saturday in downtown Pembroke. The tree is located in front of the Pembroke Pharmacy on East Bacon Street, said Laverne Scott, the organizer of the event.
The ceremony will include the lighting of the tree and local entertainment. It is meant “to bring the people together in the community,” Scott said.
Pembroke will hold its holiday celebrations and parade on Dec. 11.