Santa Claus waves from a hot air balloon in one of the scenes for the 11th annual Festival of Trees and Lights at Clayton County International Park. The festival opens Dec 6. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
JONESBORO —Run, run, run as fast as you can. You might have a chance to make a Gingerbread Man.
Little children from across the Southern Crescent will get to make gingerbread at the opening of the 11th annual Clayton County Festival of Trees and Lights this week. Of course, it probably won’t be the type of gingerbread that runs around singing and taunting people about how fast it is.
The festival, which is a fundraiser for the Rainbow House family abuse shelter, will last until Dec. 22 at Clayton County International Park, 2300 Ga. 138, in Jonesboro.
Each year, Clayton County Parks and Recreation hosts the event, where families can drive around the park and see fanciful holiday light displays, featuring snowmen, reindeer, elves and Santa Claus. The parks department and Rainbow House partner to co-host the event.
They will split the proceeds, said International Park Administrator Troy Stubbs.
“All profits made inside the Nassau Building will go to Rainbow House,” he said. He added the county will keep the admission proceeds.
Every weekend throughout the festival, families will be able to go into the park’s Nassau Building and enjoy live entertainment, opportunities for pictures with Santa, cake walks, gingerbread making, arts and crafts, a game area, a Santa Shop where toys and other gifts are sold and concessions, said Stubbs. Hay rides will also be available.
There will also be karaoke nights at the park’s Nassau Building every Sunday at 7 p.m. during the festival. These activities are provided by Rainbow House.
Stubbs said festival patrons can partake in the activities by purchasing “Santa Bucks” inside the Nassau Building. “If they pay, say, $20 then they will get 20 Santa Bucks,” he said. “Mostly, everything will cost around $1. The Santa Shop might be a little more expensive because they will be selling toys.”
Crews spent this week installing the light displays around the park to make sure everything is ready and can be tested before the festival’s opening celebration. Getting everything ready, however, meant crews didn’t let Mother Nature deter them when freezing rain fell throughout the area Tuesday.
The crews just plugged along and worked in the rain, said Stubbs.
“It was cold, but it was going to rain [Wednesday] as well, so we had to go ahead and get it done,” he said while alluding to the fact that county parks were closed Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving. The festival will be open to the public Tuesdays through Thursdays from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m., and Fridays through Sundays from 6:30 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Admission during the week is $5 per car, $7 for vans and $15 for buses. On weekends, the admission will be $7 for cars, $10 for vans and $20 for buses.