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Residents enjoy Secret Santa Car Show, festival
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Roslyn Kaczor bounces on a bungee ride while visiting the Flowery Branch annual Fall Festival Saturday afternoon with her family. It was her first time on the bouncy ride, which had dozens waiting eagerly in line for a turn. - photo by Scott Rogers | The Times

Oakwood’s City Manager Stan Brown had some encouragement at Saturday’s Secret Santa Car Show for those who may get pulled over by the police in Hall County within the coming weeks: you may not necessarily be getting a ticket.

After last year’s Secret Santa Car Show, Hall County authorities were known to give out fruit baskets and goodies after pulling drivers over in place of what most would expect to be some sort of reprimand. Brown said the plan was to do the same thing after Saturday’s 2012 event.

“The goal is to make people’s day,” said Tim Hayes, owner of the Hayes Chrysler Dodge Jeep where the 2012 Secret Santa Car Show was held.

Hayes got involved with this year’s event because of his love for the Oakwood Secret Santa Program, which proceeds go to benefit every year.

“We don’t know who the gifts go to. It’s completely anonymous,” commented Brown on the process of gift-giving through the program, “But that’s how we like it.”

Community support for this year’s event was overwhelming, with at least double the amount of spectators and registered show vehicles than were present at least year’s event.

In fact, visitors were already inquiring on how they could get involved in next year’s event, and planning for 2013 will begin in the next week.

“Everybody’s having a good time. There are all age groups here and all kinds of cars,” said Tony Tankersley, who proposed the initial idea for the Secret Santa Car Show. “Hopefully, it’ll keep on growing.”

Those in Hall County also had the chance to visit the Flowery Branch Fall Festival and the Fall Festival at the Oaks and Lanier Charter Career Academy on Saturday. Visitors to the Flowery Branch Fall Festival, co-sponsored each year by Boy Scout Troop No. 228, could participate in a cake walk with baked goods supplied by Troop parents, meander through the booths of local food and crafts vendors and mosey around downtown Flowery Branch, among other festive fall activities.

Mary Slazbria, a Flowery Branch resident, brought her 4-year-old daughter out for her first fall festivals experience.

“This is her first time out at something like this, but this time of year just calls for being outside and going to these kinds of things. This is such a great town to have this festival in,” said Slazbria.

Scott Jackson, committee chairman for Troop No. 228, echoed Slazbria’s sentiments.

“We love to see families engaging in this kind of event together that helps promote a sense of community and belonging that is so missed in our society these days,” said Jackson. “Call me a little sentimental, but these things make for great memories and serve to tie us to each other with a sense of place.”

Lanier Charter Career Academy hoped to promote its mission at the Fall Festival at the Oaks. The innovative school in Hall County, which seeks to get students involved in the hospitality, culinary arts and marketing industries, allowed students to take charge of organizing this year’s festival to receive hands-on experience in event planning.

With more than 30 booths planned for the festival, including a hayride, campfire with marshmallow roasting, costumes, games, crafts, an outdoor movie and cupcake walk, the school’s students made sure there was something for everyone who came out to enjoy.

Rachael McClain, workforce development coordinator with Lanier Charter Career Academy, said there were numerous benefits to people coming out for the event.

“Supporting the next generation of our workforce is vital to our community.” she said. “The event is going to be fun.”

Regional events