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Twilights at Chimney Park set for Dec. 2

COVINGTON -- Chimney Park will once again be transformed into a winter wonderland just in time for the holidays. Twilights at Chimney Park takes place from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 2 at the park, located behind Newton County Library.

More than 1,000 people attended last year's event, according to Barbara Morgan, vice chair for Friends of Newton Parks, the non-profit behind the park.

"We try every year to add something new to the Twilights experience to foster the aura of imagination and exploration that happen so naturally at Chimney Park," Morgan said.

This year, that something new will come in the form of a holiday dinner party set on the granite foundation of a mansion that was once located at the park. Musician Mack McKibben will be playing popular Christmas music on a baby grand piano crafted to replicate the one left abandoned before the house, circa 1910-1918, burned in the late 1980s, Morgan said. A see-through front door decorated with a holiday wreath, greenery and lights will encourage visitors to look within for hints of Christmases past, she said.

Also new this year, the actors' corps from Dramatic Arts Productions, Covington's new community theater company, will perform a scene from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" that will be staged Dec. 1, 8, 15 and 22 at 2125A Pace Street. Bill Pacer will star as Scrooge, while actors as Tiny Tim, Bob and Mrs. Cratchit, and the Ghost of Christmas Past will act in a scene set in the Cratchit home. Students from the Eastside High School Drama Department, dressed as Dickens' characters from "A Christmas Carol," will circulate as interactive participants in the revered Christmas tale. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be out and about in the crowd to receive Christmas requests.

The annual holiday festival of unique lighting displays includes storytelling by children's librarian Carol Durusau; caroling with performances by local school choirs and the Oxford Youth Singers; one-of-a-kind Christmas trees decorated by school art departments; a Gnome Home decorated for Santa's arrival; s'mores hosted by the Covington Lions Club around a roaring bonfire; refreshments including hot dogs provided by the Covington Rotary Club; popcorn provided by the Oxford Lions Club; and hot chocolate served by the Eastside High School Junior Service Guild. Giant nutcrackers crafted last year by the Southern Heartland Art Guild will be on display, as will a giant decorated Christmas tree and a May Pole-turned-Christmas tree. Members of the Heartland Women's Club will be selling Christmas greenery, and the Covington Service Guild will decorate the hot dog pagoda with festive lights and decor.

All activities and refreshments are included in the $5 per person entry fee that goes to support the annual event.

Twilights at Chimney Park is one of two signature events hosted each year by Friends of Newton Parks Inc. to raise awareness of the park, planned to include elements to make the outdoors accessible to people of all ages and abilities.

Just before Twilights kicks off, the newest leg of the county-wide trail that runs through Chimney Park will be dedicated in a ceremony at 4:30 p.m. featuring local officials and trail supporters. Known as the Eastside to Library Trail, it is a joint project between Newton County and the city of Covington.

The 2.5-mile trail begins at the Newton County Library on Floyd Street and meanders in a southeasterly direction through Chimney Park to Martin Street, proceeds east along Martin Street, and through undeveloped right of way to Eagle Drive. From there the trail will cross Eagle Drive by way of a pedestrian underpass and continue on an undeveloped 50-foot right of way south to Eastside High School and on to the Alcovy River.

The trail will connect the library and the downtown to future mixed-use developments, residences, retail, restaurants, the high school, a conservation easement and the proposed Alcovy River Greenway.

The total project cost, including the tunnel, is about $1.65 million. The Georgia Department of Transportation is paying for the most costly portion, the tunnel, and more than $900,000 in grant money has been received for the project.

The trail will be accessible to bicycles, walking, assisted mobility vehicles, but not golf carts, which are not considered safe with two-way traffic walkers.

Newton Trails Path Foundation is donating benches, trash receptacles and bike racks for the new trail. The public is invited to the dedication ceremony.