Morrow preparing for 'Christmas' celebration

Little children will get to show their creative side, while their mommies and daddies get to learn about local community programs, and ogle over some adult "toys" ahead of Christmas, next weekend in Morrow.

The city is slated to host its fifth annual "Christmas in the Park" event on Dec. 3, from 2 p.m., to 7 p.m., at Southlake Mall, which is located at 1000 Southlake Mall, in Morrow.

Morrow Business and Tourism Association President Michael Twomey said the event is expected to include arts-and-crafts activities; information booths run by area churches, non-profit organizations and community groups; performances by area school chorus groups; a tree lighting, and a car show.

Last year's gathering drew a crowd of approximately 7,500 people, he added.

"It's a celebration of the season, where we partner with different non-profits, churches, and civic groups, to provide fun activities for the entire family," Twomey said. "There will be crafts and different sorts of activities for the children, while their parents get a chance to talk with representatives of each group about the services they provide to the community."

Twomey said approximately 25 community organizations, churches and non-profit groups, including Arts Clayton, the Clayton County Humane Society and Clayton County Family Care, have signed up to be participants. He added that there will be a "Little General" train that children will be able to ride at the event.

He also said this year will mark the first time the event has ever included a car show. The show will be held in the mall's parking lot, he explained, and will be presented in conjunction with the U.S. Marine Corps' "Toys for Tots" Foundation.

"They [the Marines] are sponsoring it, and we're going to be collecting toys for ‘Toys for Tots' while we're there," Twomey said. He said that actual Marines will be on hand at "Christmas in the Park," and at the car show, to receive donated toys.

Much of the event will be held inside the mall, marking the first time it has been held indoors, according to Morrow's top tourism official. "Christmas in the Park" was held, for the last two years, in the city's Olde Towne Morrow development, which was shut down by the city last December, because of a wide range of issues.

Twomey said the city had been open to the idea of moving the event indoors even before the development was shuttered. "It was extremely cold the two years we held it at Olde Towne, so we had some discussions on the possibility of moving it to an indoor location where it would be warmer for everyone," he said.

The Morrow Business and Tourism president said that, after Olde Towne Morrow was closed, the city eventually decided to turn to the closest thing it had to a downtown, "Main Street"-type location — the mall.

"We really never have had a downtown area," he said. "The Mall has always been sort of a central place for the city. In fact, they call the row of stores on the lower level of the mall ‘Main Street,' so it seemed like a perfect fit to move ‘Christmas in the Park' to Southlake."