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Column: Join us for Christmas on Green Street
Shannon Casas high res
Shannon Casas

We have an old press. That’s what one of the press guys keeps telling me and anyone who joins me on a tour of The Times.

The Times building on Green Street was dedicated in 1970, and while not all of the press is that old, some of it is. When the Smithgalls sold the paper to Gannett, they came in and expanded the press by the early 1980s to print USA Today. 

Today, The Times is locally owned under the Metro Market Media umbrella, which invested in refurbishing the press in the past couple of years.

And with those upgrades, some other tweaks and a great crew downstairs, the papers are coming off the press looking great. 

The presses run daily to print our products — The Times, Forsyth County News and Dawson County News — plus all of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution products.

Sunday, we’ll again be running the press and inviting the community to come watch during the Christmas on Green Street activities.

It’s one of my favorite events we’re involved with, as I watch people stream into our building to make fun photos in our photo booth and then look through the viewing windows as the press rolls.

It’s the magic of Christmas plus the magic of creating a newspaper. I’ll be there, probably wearing an elfish hat and happy to share in all the magic.

Our longtime general manager, who for many years took the moniker of Santa’s cousin Norm at this event, has pointed out that our business is unique in that it creates a new product every day. 

Reporters gather information through interviews, documents and other sources and then inform the community about local news. Editors help them through that process and look over the final product to make it what it needs to be.

Page designers take those articles along with photos and fit all the pieces together on pages five days a week, including our two print editions and three ePaper exclusive editions.

Christmas on Green Street at The Times

What: Press viewing, photo booth, letters to Santa, free copies of Christmas on Green Street pocket publication including history of Green Street homes 

When: 4-7 p.m. Dec. 4, with parade at 4 p.m., open house at 5 p.m., press run ending at 6 p.m.

Where: The Times, 345 Green St., Gainesville

How much: Free

On print days, those pages get exported to machines downstairs that produce plates, four for each color page of the newspaper, using laser imaging technology. Those plates are then hung on drums on the press. 

Large rolls of newsprint, weighing 700-800 pounds each, run through the press at speeds to print 22,000 net copies in an hour.

The press then stamps the images from the plates onto the newsprint to create the final product, which is folded and output on a conveyor belt.

When The Times finishes printing before midnight, the staff downstairs makes sure all the coupons are inserted and then delivers those papers by 6 a.m. to 16 local post offices. That way, subscribers can get the paper that very same day. 

Then we do it all again. It never slows down.

It’s takes several teams working together, a lot of equipment plus paper and ink, and a lot of knowledge to make it all work.

I hope you can come see it in action on Sunday. The parade is at 4 p.m. and the open house portion of the event begins at 5 p.m. We’ll have the press running until 6 p.m.

We’ll also have our photo booth, plus kids can write letters to Santa.

And for a second year, we’ll have a Christmas on Green Street pocket publication that includes the history of 24 of Green Street’s historic homes along with a map and the schedule of event activities. Those will be available free at our office.

Shannon Casas is director of audience for Metro Market Media, parent company of The Times. She is a North Hall resident.