If you’re looking for an injection of holiday spirit this weekend, you don’t have far to go as both Pembroke and Richmond Hill kick off the Christmas holiday this weekend.
The festivities start in Richmond Hill at 6:30 p.m. Friday with the 12th annual Chili Cook-Off and Crafts Fair under the pavilion at J.F. Gregory Park.
The event, which runs to 9 p.m., includes some of the best chili in the area, not to mention local crafts and fun activities for kids.
“We will also have clown and magician making balloon animals, face painting, two bouncy houses, a hay ride, barrel ride and pony rides,” said Richmond Hill’s Nancy Frye. “There will also be some local entertainment during these hours and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be there.”
It’s not too late to enter the cook-off either — the deadline to sign up is today. For more information, contact Linda Phillips at 756-2831 or Jennifer McCorkle at 756-3592.
Richmond Hill will be busy on Saturday as well, with both the 18th annual Richmond Hill Hometown Christmas Parade and Christmas on the Train at Station Exchange.
The parade, themed “A Down Home Country Christmas,” gets under way at 10 a.m. Carlton Gill is this year’s grand marshal and the parade will include local floats, high school bands, Scout troops and even the 3rd Infantry Division Band from Fort Stewart.
That will be followed by Christmas on the Train from 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. at Station Exchange.
Hosted by The Suites at Station Exchange and Georgia Living at Home, the event includes carriage rides from Carriage Tours of Savannah, while Keith & Ross will provide entertainment and Midnight Star Pottery will be among the vendors providing creative crafts. Santa and around 30 vendors are expected.
And that’s just getting things started.
At 6 p.m., the Christmas on the Ogeechee Boat Parade will get under way at Fort McAllister Marina and FishTales restaurant.
The lighted boat parade will get going at dusk and will be followed by what is boasted as one of the largest fireworks displays in Richmond Hill.
Meanwhile, Pembroke’s annual holiday celebration begins at 5 p.m. Saturday with the 29th annual Tree Lighting.
The ceremony takes place downtown and will feature the Bryan County Elementary School chorus.
Pembroke veteran Rex Waters, reportedly the oldest living veteran from Pembroke and a longtime member of the local American Legion post, will light the tree. Saturday is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Pembroke’s “Festival of Trees” in the Downtown Arts Center and “Winter Wonderland, a Festival of Lights” at DuBois Square will also open for viewing Saturday after the tree-lighting ceremony.
“The Festival of Trees is a competition of different groups and businesses displaying their trees,’ said Pembroke Downtown Development Authority Director Sharroll Fanslau, whose organization is sponsoring both events.
She said the “Festival of Lights” has been “freshened up” this year for residents.
All three events are free of charge, and the displays will be up until Dec. 28, Fanslau said.
Saturday’s opening sets the stage for the city’s 20th annual Christmas in Pembroke Parade & Festival on Dec. 14, which starts at 9 a.m. when booths open.
The parade on Main Street — aka Highway 280 — gets under way at 11 a.m. and runs from Warnell Street to Strickland Street.
Former mayor Harry Owens and his wife Elvia are grand marshals.
What’s more, this year the parade, which annually features floats, bands, classic cars and the Rusty Relics, a classic tractor group, will include members of the 3rd Infantry Division from nearby Fort Stewart.
There’s also a car show afterward — entries are still being accepted and trophies will be awarded — along with food, arts crafts, music and more.
“We’ve got a little bit of everything you can think of,” Fanslau said. “We’ll have shrimp and grits, and the Shell House will be up here again with shrimp and fries and we’ll have just all kind of food.
“We’ll have vendors here with everything from crafts to bows and leather goods. There’s a decorated bike contest, live entertainment, you name it. It ought to be a great time.”
For more information about participating in the parade or car show, or about the event in general, call Fanslau at 653-4413.