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South Hall cities ready for the season
Holiday festivities include parade, storytellers, crafts and choirs
Karrie Mixon and Flowery Branch Police Chief Gerald Lanich prepare a table of hot chocolate and other refreshments Thursday for the annual Christmas tree lighting event at the Flowery Branch depot. The city will host a Christmas festival and children’s parade on Saturday. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

South Hall Christmas kickoff

Breakfast with Santa
When: 9 a.m. Saturday
Where: First United Methodist Church, 5106 Spring St., Flowery Branch

Historic Flowery Branch Christmas Festival and Kids' Jingle Bell Roll 'n' Stroll
When: 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Saturday
Where: Downtown Flowery Branch
Community Christmas Celebration
When: 6-9 p.m. Friday
Where: Community center buildings on Railroad Street, Oakwood


Christmas won't slip past Oakwood and Flowery Branch.

The two South Hall cities are dressing up for the holidays, wrapping garland on poles and putting up colored lights and wreaths, and putting on festivals and Christmas tree lightings.

The "Historic Flowery Branch Christmas Festival and Kids' Jingle Bell Roll 'n' Stroll" is set for 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday in the downtown area.

"We really wanted to have a parade, because that is Christmas," said Janet Upchurch, a Main Street merchant and one of the event's organizers. "We wanted to change what we were doing and do a child's parade."

The event will kick off with "Breakfast with Santa," set for 9 a.m. at First United Methodist Church at Spring and Church streets.

Storytellers and crafts will be at stores along Main Street, including the new Calliope Sweets Bakery and Toasted and Tapped restaurant, and at community theater Fifth Row Center's new offices.

The "roll 'n' stroll" parade is planned for noon, with children encouraged to bring decorated bicycles, tricycles, wagons, strollers - anything that puts them in motion. Prizes will be awarded.

Santa Claus will lead the parade, starting at First United Methodist and traveling down Church Street, then turning left on Main Street to the historic depot.

Children can visit with Santa at the depot from 12:30 to 4 p.m.

As work progressed on the event, "everything started coming together as a community thing," Upchurch said. "... We're doing things that really center around the children and happiness."

Oakwood is planning its second annual "Community Christmas Celebration" 6-9 p.m. Friday in the community center buildings on Railroad Street.

The event will feature choirs and groups presenting holiday tunes. Santa and Mrs. Claus will arrive in town on a fire engine and light the city's Christmas tree.

Children also will be able to visit with Santa.

Visitors will be able to sample hot chocolate and other goodies, as well as roast marshmallows over a fire.

"We did this (celebration) for a number of years in a row many, many years ago and we kind of got out of the tradition and didn't do it for a few years," said Sheri Millwood, the city's events committee chairwoman.

"Last year, we brought it back, and it was a really successful event."

Oakwood also is stringing up Christmas lights in the City Park area around Railroad Street.

With the Mundy Mill widening that was completed last year, "a lot of our previous hookups for lights ... have all been replaced with other poles and we don't really have the physical capability to put lights on a lot of those poles this year," City Manager Stan Brown said.

"And it was going to be pretty extensive (work) to have to go back and rewire all those poles for Christmas lights, so what we're going to do is focus on doing a good job here in the City Park area. ... We are kind of thinking of using banners on some of the major corridors in the future."

Also, the city is looking at putting a holiday touch next year on the Thurmon Tanner Parkway stretch under construction between Plainview and Mundy Mill roads. The four-lane parkway is set for a Dec. 31 completion.

"We're going to have the nostalgia-type (streetlights in place already)," Brown said. "We've already talked about doing the wreaths and wrapping the garland around those, (with) bows and things like that."