This weekend marks the 14th Annual Richmond Hill Hometown Christmas Celebration. Scheduled events include a chili cook-off, parades and a holiday tour of homes.
"The events this year will be the same as every year - just bigger and better," said Jan Bass, one of the coordinators of this year’s festivities.
Bass said she is pleasantly surprised at "the enthusiasm and number of residents coming out to participate in the chili cook-off and parade this year. The chili booths are sold out and we’ve got more parade participants than ever before."
The festivities kick off Friday night at 6:30 p.m. with the chili cook-off. Booths lining the J.F. Gregory Park pavillion will be filled with chili chefs and craft vendors.
There will be a variety of live entertainment. This includes a magician, face painting, a balloon artist, a caricature artist, inflatable rides and free pictures with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Local rock bands Shift N Gears (8 p.m.) and the Dave Turner Band (7 p.m.) will perform on the brand new amphitheater stage. Bryan County Animal Caregivers will be there as well, giving residents the opportunity to add a furry friend to their family for the holidays.
On Saturday, the festivities continue with the ever-popular Christmas parade, featuring a variety of floats, marching bands and many other sights and sounds. This year’s parade theme is "A Small Town Christmas." The 3rd sustainment brigade will lead the parade down Ford Avenue beginning at 10 a.m. Bass said close to 100 entries have come in for the event.
Immediately following, the annual Christmas Xtravaganza will get started at Station Xchange across the street from J.F. Gregory Park. The event will feature a ‘winter wonderland’ with real snow, local performing artists, a petting zoo, photos with Santa, ornament making stations, a cookie decorating station, complimentary candy canes and hot cocoa. Refreshment stands will be onsite at the event and the funds raised will be donated to Richmond Hill Dance Theater, a local charity for the performing artist.
On Saturday evening, the First Annual Christmas Stroll will take place from 5-8 p.m. The event, sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, offers an opportunity to win some holiday prizes. During the three-hour span, you can register for a door prize, valued at $50, at each of nearly three dozen local businesses. Registering will automatically enter you into the grand prize of a $500 gift card. Light refreshments will be served at each business as well. See page 13 for a route and list of participating businesses.
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.
The festivities concludes Sunday with a self-guided Richmond Hill 2009 Holiday Tour of Homes from 1-5 p.m. Tickets are available for $30 ($25 advance) at the Richmond Hill Historical Society Museum. It includes six beautifully decorated private homes, afternoon tea at St. Anne Catholic Church plus drawings for door prizes. Ticket proceeds benefit four local nonprofit organizations.