COVINGTON -- There are plenty of small town holiday festivities in the coming weeks to help folks get in the Christmas spirit.
The Lighting of Newton County's Historic Courthouse and official launch of "2011 Southern Christmas" in downtown Covington will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday.
Hosted by the Arts Association in Newton County and Main Street Covington, this year's festivities will include performances by Oxford Singing Children, The Newton County Community Band and Covington Regional Ballet. The event is expected to be larger this year with more participants, and will take place inside the Square Park instead of the usual spot on the courthouse steps. Several community organizations have been tapped to participate.
"We're trying to be more inclusive and we hope this will bring us all together, especially now, with so many bad things happening all around, to remember what the holidays are all about," said Abigail Morgan-Coggin with the Arts Association.
The winner of the 2011 Shining Light Award will be announced and will have the honor of flipping the switch to light the courthouse.
Carriage rides will be available from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Rides are complimentary with a receipt from a downtown business or $7 with no receipt.
Santa will be on hand at his workshop for good little boys and girls to put in their requests.
For more information, visit www.downtowncovington.org.
Nearby in Social Circle, the Lighting of the Tree will take place at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, on the lawn of City Hall. This year's theme is "Christmas Through a Child's Eyes."
Community church choirs will perform and Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand to listen to children's wish lists. Children can take hayrides through town to view the decorations, make their own tree ornaments and create cards for the troops. They can also roast marshmallows, with a little help from the local fire department.
The following weekend, on Sunday, Dec. 11, the Historic Preservation Society of Social Circle will host its First Holiday Primer. The event will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. at Gunter Hall, 403 West Hightower, behind the library.
Father Christmas will make an appearance and there will be games and carols for children. Light refreshments will be served. More information can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The city of Rutledge, which bills itself as "small but special," is inviting guests to their three-day Country Christmas. Holiday festivities will kick off the season Nov. 18-20.
Downtown merchants, including Red Doors Studio, Lily Beth's Gifts and Rutledge Frame and Art Gallery, will be open and furnishing refreshments, while crafters will set up shop in the park with an assortment of handmade jewelry, doll clothes, soaps, quilts, fall plants and more.
Plenty of good food will be offered including barbecue, funnel cakes, pork skins and boiled peanuts. Restaurants will also be open.
To really get in the spirit of a country Christmas, guests are invited to try out the horse-drawn carriage rides and youngsters can enjoy a mini-train ride. Pictures with Santa will be offered Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 4 p.m. at the City Hall Depot Building.
Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from noon until 5 p.m. on Sunday.