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Hundreds attend Winter Bazaar, greet St. Nick with celebrity excitement
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Hear as East Hall Middle School principal Kevin Bales talks about how he expects the school’s newly formed Students Aiming for an Education Team to improve attendance.


The reindeer weren’t needed at the second annual Sterling on the Lake Winter Bazaar this year. Saturday afternoon, Santa made his grand entrance by helicopter instead.

The red helicopter landed just outside the clubhouse of the subdivision and Santa was greeted by nearly 200 cheering fans.

The Winter Bazaar, an event created by Newland Communities, featured more than 20 vendors to choose from and drew some 300 visitors. Activities such as a tree decorating competition and silent auction were also included.

Entertainment at the event involved a visit with Santa, carriage rides, cookie decorating, shopping and the Prince of Peace Catholic Church choir performing Christmas carols. Father Fred Wendel of Prince of Peace church was there to judge the tree decorating competition.

One of the contestants, Mai Shedd, a resident of Sterling on the Lake, gave her tree a theme of giving.

Shedd said her tree had enough on it to satisfy anyone’s Christmas wish. It was decorated with more than 80 $1 bills, gift cards donated by various neighbors, sports memorabilia, and cards for a free tennis lesson and spa treatment. The proceeds of the auction went to Prince of Peace, but Mai hoped to give her prize money to the battered women’s shelter of Hall County.

Along with the giving tree, there were eight other trees involved in the contest and silent auction.

Heather Heard, also a resident of Sterling on the Lake, went with a classic red and gold theme for her tree. It was Heard’s first time attending and participating in the event. She said she was looking forward to the carriage ride and seeing the kids with Santa.

Heard said the Winter Bazaar was a "great event for the community and people in the area."

All trees were auctioned off, with a minimum bid of $50 and prizes were awarded to the trees with the highest bid.

At the bazaar, vendors such as Lia Sophia and The Full Nest, both of Flowery Branch, set up shop in the clubhouse to showcase holiday gifts. The bazaar is the main focus of the Sterling on the Lake event and had many returning vendors as well as some new ones.

Just outside the bazaar, Bekah Keller, 11, a student at Friendship Elementary, helped with the cookie decorating table. Decorations for the cookies included various kinds of icing and sprinkles.

Newland Communities, the developers of Sterling on the Lake, held the festival to promote community involvement.

Patrick Clark, vice president of operations at Newland Communities and Jennifer Petters, marketing manager, were both at the bazaar to oversee all the events.

"The goal is to have fun," Clark said.

"There’s beautiful weather, a wonderful turnout and the children thought it was cool," Petters said of the event.

The bazaar is one of many events planned by Newland Communities. The company also holds a Pumpkin Festival for Halloween and hopes to continue the Winter Bazaar.

Regional events