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Mayor's Motorcade revving up for Santa's arrival

First stop: Gainesville-Hall County Senior Center

POSTED: December 16, 2007 5:03 a.m.

Santa Claus is coming to Gainesville for a good cause on Friday.

Santa is scheduled to arrive via firetruck at the Gainesville-Hall County Senior Center Friday morning as a part of the annual Mayor's Motorcade event.

The Mayor's Motorcade is an effort to bring the holiday spirit to those at area behavioral health facilities. As a part of the event, city employees and Gainesville residents are encouraged to give monetary donations or purchase a gift for behavioral health patients in the area.

This year, the city will spread the cheer to AVITA Community Partners in Flowery Branch and the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital in Rome.

"This is our holiday contribution," said Carol LaMonica, senior secretary at the community service center.

On Friday, AVITA Community Partners will get a check of donations that were collected from the public over the past couple of weeks.

"I was really pleased with the response we got," LaMonica said.

The event also provides gifts for residents of Northwest Regional Hospital. Over the past month, the city has collected gifts of personal hygiene items, clothing, snacks and other miscellaneous gifts such as CDs and cards. After the motorcade, LaMonica will take the gifts to the Rome hospital for administrators to give to the residents for Christmas and birthday presents.

Most of the gifts come from city of Gainesville employees, LaMonica said.

"A lot of times, these people are forgotten," said Gainesville Mayor Robert "Bob" Hamrick. "This is just to ensure that, yes, our community is thinking of them."

The program serves about 3,200 of Georgia's mental patients who currently reside in the state's seven regional mental hospitals, according to the Georgia Municipal Association Web site.

In 1958, Georgia's governor, Ernest Vandiver, asked the Georgia Municipal Association to start the annual event to provide gifts to patients of the state's mental hospitals.

The event, held at the Gainesville-Hall County Senior Center, will begin at 9:30 and last about an hour.

Melody Marlowe, Gainesville's chief financial officer, will play holiday songs on the piano while Gainesville employees sing along. Santa is expected to arrive with a police escort by 10 a.m.



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