Richmond Hill is ready to officially start the holiday season with ‘A Magical Christmas.’
The annual Hometown Celebration is this weekend, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 2.
"This weekend is an opportunity to celebrate the holidays with the community," said Community Developer Jan Bass. "It really kicks off the season the right way."
Friday night is the start of festivities, with the annual Chili Cook-off at J.F. Gregory Park. It encompasses booths occupied by chili chefs and craft vendors, live entertainment provided by Arts on the Coast and the Richmond Hill High School Band, and a variety of kids’ activities.
"We keep getting more applications, and we’ll keep taking them up until the last minute," Bass said of the cook-off booths and parade floats.
Saturday, Dec. 1, the whole family can enjoy the parade as it makes its way through the streets of downtown Richmond Hill from 10 a.m. to noon. This year’s ‘A Magical Christmas’ theme will highlight the splendor of the season.
Immediately following the parade, the Station Xchange has planned a Christmas Xtravaganza that will have real snow, Christmas music, local performing artists, a petting zoo, photos with Santa, ornament making and cookie decorating stations, and complimentary candy canes and hot cocoa. During the Xtravaganza, Smile Innovations will host a refreshment stand. All funds will be donated to the R.O.C.K. Group, a community of individuals dedicated to protecting and nurturing children and eliminating reports of child maltreatment through physical, sexual, emotional abuse and child neglect.
New to this year’s festivities is the Nutcracker Tea that corresponds with The Nutcracker play, which has ongoing performances throughout the month. The special tea will be on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 2. Bass said it makes a great mother-daughter event, as the tea party will include a variety of sandwiches and cakes and the cast of the Nutcracker. There will be photo opportunities with the Sugar Plum Fairy and other characters, as well as raffles and free gifts.
Additionally, the Tour of Homes has a number of local residences and community buildings featured for this year’s holiday tour of the community. The route starts at 1 p.m. on Sunday and tickets will be available up to the last minute at the Historical Society.
Bass said the community should also be aware of the road closure associated with the parade; the close-off will be from 9:30 a.m. to at least 12 p.m. from Cherry to Cedar streets on Saturday, Dec. 1.
The Richmond Hill parade’s Grand Marshal is Margaret Davis Fennell Judy, who said she is honored to have been chosen this year.
Judy was born in Clyde, Ga., in 1962. She moved to Ways Station, now Richmond Hill, in 1940 and was one of the first graduates of Richmond Hill High School in 1944.
"I was honored with a scholarship by Mr. Henry Ford and sent to business school at Draughon’s Business College, now South Georgia College, in Savannah," Judy said, noting that she worked for the Ford Plantation while attending.
Judy continued to work for the plantation until it was sold in 1951 to International Paper, where she worked for another 30 years. She married Robert Fennell in 1946 and divorced in 1984, later marrying Leon Judy in 1988. She has one son, Robert ‘Bob’ Fennell Jr., who also lives in Richmond Hill.
Today, Judy said she continues to stay busy and hopes that one day soon, her book about the Ford Plantation will be completed for publication. She has been encouraged to finish it by Dr. Davis Lewis, a Ford historian at the University of Michigan. The book is about the plantation right up till the time it began to diminish as International Paper took over.