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Festive, holiday activities take over The Square

By Valerie Baldowski

vbaldowski@henryherald.com

In anticipation of Christmas, a full day of events is planned for the McDonough Square today, when the first of three "Santa Saturdays" gets underway, according to Casey Case, media relations spokesperson for the City of McDonough.

This year marks the eighth annual Santa Saturdays string of events, said Main Street McDonough Program Director Linda Schenk.

Sears Home Appliances in McDonough and Renfroe Outdoors, an advertising company with billboards in Henry and Clayton counties, as well as other locations, will be a co-sponsor for the kickoff, Schenk said.

From 11 a.m., to 3 p.m., the Main Street McDonough Program will sponsor an appearance by Santa, waiting in his big, red sleigh to talk to children. Photos will be taken, but parents may bring their own cameras for additional photos, said Case.

Main Street McDonough will also sponsor a performance by the Henley Varner Band, from noon to 3 p.m. The Henry County Rotary Club will offer its third annual "Jingle Jog," a footrace to raise funds for the club. The race will begin, and end, at Shiloh Baptist Church, located at 262 Macon St., said Adam Stanfield, Henry Medical Center Foundation executive director, and one of the race organizers.

"As of now, we have 400 entrants," said Henry County Rotary Club President Kerry Arnold. "It's a great event for the people who run. The more money we get from this, the more people we can help this time of year."

Registration is from 2 to 3 p.m. The race will have a 5K run and a one-mile walk, beginning at 3:15 p.m., and an Elf Trot, beginning at 3:30 p.m. Registration is $20 to run, and $15 to walk, said Stanfield. "The [race] will generate between $8,000 and $10,000," he added. Stanfield said proceeds will go to the club's effort to build a children's playground at Haven House, a facility for victims of domestic abuse.

At 4:30 p.m., Main Street McDonough will sponsor the Home of Fine Arts Connection, and The Concert Choir, a group of teens and young children, who will give a musical performance, said Schenk. Main Street McDonough will also sponsor the annual Tree Lighting on The Square, scheduled for 5:30 p.m.

At 6 p.m., the City of McDonough will host its Christmas Parade. "Floats, bands, horses, dogs, antique cars, and so much more will comprise this huge annual event," said Case. "Eighty units make up this year's parade."

The route will include the Henry County High School parking lot, and the marchers will travel up John Frank Ward Boulevard, around the McDonough Square, down Keys Ferry Street, and left on Lemon Street, then back to the school parking lot, according to Case.

"Most of the merchants normally stay open for these events, since there are thousands of people out and around The Square for the entertainment, lighting of the tree and, of course, the Christmas parade," Schenk said.

She said Main Street McDonough organizes many of the activities as a way to showcase the downtown area. "It generates sales, creates activity, promotes businesses in the Main Street District by highlighting downtown's assets, encourages customer traffic, and establishes a sense of place," added Schenk.

Case said the next two Santa Saturdays, on Dec. 11 and 18, will feature Santa on The Square, from 11 a.m., to 3 p.m.