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Crowds flock to Christmas on Green Street despite chill
Gainesville Newcomer’s Club members Linda Spencer, right, and Amy Schick, left, talk at the annual Christmas on Green Street event Sunday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Sunday evening’s cold weather didn’t seem to lessen the holiday spirit as visitors and participants gathered for the annual Christmas on Green Street.

Though perhaps it did make the hot chocolate, coffee and other treats that much more enjoyable.

Groups of people roamed the sidewalks and the street, which for the first time was closed entirely this year for the event. The historic homes along Green Street were decked out in festive Christmas decorations ranging from traditional greenery to giant snowflakes.

Dressed in Victorian attire, volunteer docents from the Gainesville Newcomers Club offered free tours of many of the homes. Jane Williams has served as a docent for several years and has gathered and made pieces of her costume over the years. Her assigned home on the tour was the Garner-Hulsey house, built in 1925.

Like Williams, Sharon Virgin has been a docent for several years. She said she enjoys meeting people and sharing the history of the beautiful, restored homes along Green Street. And she was ready for the cold.

"We have on long johns and lots of layers and big boots to keep warm," Virgin said with a laugh.

Syl Newkirk was new to the event this year, having been convinced to take part by "the girls," fellow club members.

"They said it was so exciting and so much fun, and we get to be together and get to know each other since we’re all new to Gainesville," Newkirk said.

Her favorite part? Entertaining the children. "I really want to see the children’s faces," Newkirk said. "When we first came out, all dressed up, the kids’ faces lit up."

Bands also played at several of the homes, including the Salvation Army band that performed on the front porch of the Turner Estes House, built in 1906.

Hall native Tommy Nix, a member of the Salvation Army band, said he has performed many times as part of Christmas on Green Street. He, too, was ready for the cold, keeping the mouthpiece to his horn warm in his pocket.

"It’s tough. The cold kind of dampens the music a little bit, but once you warm the horn up, it gets pretty good," Nix said.

For Amanda Bryan of Gainesville, Sunday evening was her first visit to Christmas on Green Street. "I just wanted to bring the kids out," Bryan said. "Now that they’re a little bit older, and they can actually withstand the cold weather."

Daughters Reagan and Morgan Bryan spent time drawing while waiting for the parade of antique cars to begin.

"Well, I’ve always liked cars for a long time. I draw cars. I look at cars. I go to VW shows," 9-year-old Reagan said, jumping up and down in anticipation. "I drew cars the whole way here."

The girls weren’t disappointed as long lines of cars, representing every decade since the automobile was invented, paraded down Green Street. The cars looped around and circled back down Green Street so paradegoers on both sides could get a good look at the custom paint, shiny chrome and sporty fenders. Of course, no Christmas parade would be complete without Santa Claus, who came last in the parade, riding in a white convertible.

The lighting of the Rotary tree at Academy Street, festooned with big, multicolored Christmas lights, wrapped up the evening at 7 p.m.