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Motorcade delivers holiday spirit
Richmond Hill Councilwoman Marilyn Hodges, left, City Manager Mike Melton and Mayor Harold Fowler unload gifts Wednesday for patients at Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah for the annual Mayors Christmas Motorcade. - photo by Photo by Hallie D. Martin

They came bearing gifts.
Richmond Hill Mayor Harold Fowler, Councilwoman Marilyn Hodges and City Manager Mike Melton on Wednesday participated in the Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade. They packed the trunk of a car with donated gifts, drove in a procession to Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah and delivered the presents for the patients there.
“We’re glad that we can help out,” Fowler said as he transferred the gifts from the car to a cart.
Every year, the Mayor’s Christmas Motorcade helps serve people with developmental disabilities and behavioral needs in the state’s mental health hospitals, where some of the patients would not receive gifts without the motorcade, according to the Georgia Municipal Association. Additionally, the motorcade helps promote awareness of the needs of the state’s mental health hospitals.
Each municipality that participates in the motorcade collects gifts to donate to patients of the hospital and buses the gifts over to the hospital in a ceremonial motorcade, filled with fire trucks and decorated cars. The event, which is 52 years old, takes place every year in December at seven of the state’s regional mental health hospitals. 
The Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah has been participating in motorcade for at least 39 years, said Tracey Belton, the recreation/volunteer services coordinator at the Georgia Regional Hospital at Savannah’s department of behavioral health and developmental disabilities.
Around 20 municipalities, including Richmond Hill, Pembroke, Savannah, St. Mary’s, Statesboro, Midway, Camden County, Hinesville, and other areas, took part in this year’s Mayor’s Christmas Motorcade on Wednesday at Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah.
This year's motorcade turned out to be one of the biggest in recent memory. Around 180 patients received gifts, Belton said.
“It all went well,” she said.
Richmond Hill has been participating in the motorcade for about eight years, according to Steve Scholar, the planning and zoning administrator for the city. This year, the city collected around 75 donated gifts from the community.
City officials wanted to give back during the holiday season and liked the Mayors’ Christmas Motorcade program, Scholar said.
“We thought it was the right thing to do,” he said. “It’s a chance for people to do something good for the holiday season.”

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