CONYERS -- Santa Claus and his elves, Mrs. Claus, Frosty the Snowman and other holiday characters are paying a special visit to Olde Town Conyers next week.
The Olde Town Christmas Party is set for Friday, and the Hometown Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting will take place the next day on Dec. 5.
To kick off the holiday season, the city of Conyers is inviting residents to the annual Olde Town Christmas Party from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday.
Visitors can enjoy visits and photos with Santa Claus at the Conyers Welcome Center and Depot, complimentary carriage and train rides and free refreshments like hot cocoa and cookies.
"It kicks off the holiday shopping in Olde Town Conyers," said Monica Coffin, Conyers Main Street manager. "And you can't beat giving Santa your Christmas list personally."
After visiting with Santa and Mrs. Claus, kids ages 5 to 10 years old can visit the Secret Santa Shop at the Depot, where they can shop for gifts for their friends and family for 50 cents to $5 and have them gift-wrapped for free.
"They come in with their lists and pick out a few items. It's a lot of fun," Coffin said. "It's neat to see how proud the children are when they come out of there."
The next day -- starting at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 5 -- is the 11th annual Hometown Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting.
The parade, which begins at 4:30 p.m., features more than 70 entries including floats and walkers.
This year, participants include city of Conyers Police Department, Rockdale County High School's MJROTC, city and county officials, Veggie Tales and Looney Tunes characters, Cub Scout groups and other area churches, school groups and community members.
This year the parade, which later will be shown on Channel 23, also features a women's side saddle group and the Salem High School marching band playing "Jingle Bell Jam" in the middle of the parade.
"It's impressive to see the number of organizations and variety of organizations we have," Coffin said.
After the parade, the celebration will continue with live entertainment and the tree lighting.
Performers include a chorus group from Pine Street Elementary School, a chorus and harmonica group from Peeks Chapel Elementary School, the Toe Jam Time Cloggers, a hip-hop dance group from the Academy of the Arts, a dance group from the Conyers School of Ballet and a Latino folkloric dance group from the A.R. "Gus" Barksdale Boys & Girls Club.
Holiday characters like Santa and Mrs. Claus, Santa's elves, Frosty the Snowman and others also will be walking around the celebration. Firefighters will be serving hot dogs, pizza, hot chocolate and other beverages.
Afterward, kids can have their picture made with Santa Claus in the courthouse.
"It's a day filled with fun," Coffin said.
During these events, the welcome center also encourages guests to enjoy ice skating at the Pavilion and shopping at new and existing shops, which may have special deals during the event.
The cost to skate is $7, and skate rentals cost $2; the Conyers Welcome Center on Railroad Street offers a special coupon for $1 off skate rental. The hours to skate are from 4 to 11 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Dec. 5; a complete schedule is available online at www.icedays.com.