For Cartersville DDA Executive Director Liz Hood, one of her favorite moments about the annual ceremony is watching the children's expressions once the 50-foot Japanese cryptomeria is illuminated with white lights.
"Our phone rings constantly from Halloween on asking about Christmas events," Hood said. "Families love to come downtown and enjoy the parade and they enjoy the tree lighting. So having them on the same night means you can do two events in one evening. ... For a lot of families, this kicks off the holiday season.
"Other areas have a lighting of a great tree and this is our great tree in Cartersville. [I love] the moment that the tree is lit and [I hear] the 'oohs and ahs' of the crowd because it really is special to be downtown and see the Christmas tree lit."
Located in Friendship Plaza beside the Cartersville train depot, the ceremony will start at 5 p.m. with entertainment provided by the First Baptist Church of Cartersville's choir, vocalists Patti Holladay and Savannah Lowery, and the Cartersville School of Ballet. At 6 p.m., the tree will be lit just as the Christmas parade is starting its route through downtown Cartersville.
After lining up at the Tabernacle Baptist Church parking lot at 4 p.m., the parade participants will depart at 6 p.m., turning right on Church Street, left on Bartow Street, left on Main Street, left on Stonewall Street, left on Church Street, right on Tennessee Street and then return to Tabernacle Baptist. If the parade is rained out, it will be rescheduled for Dec. 9.
Residents still can enter non-commercial or commercial floats and vehicles in the parade. With entrance fees ranging from $50 to $200, proceeds from the parade will benefit the area youth organizations. For more information, call 678-719-2306 or visit http://sites.google.com/site/cartersvilleexchangeclub/.
As demonstrated on the Cartersville-Bartow County Convention & Visitors Bureau's Web site, www.notatlanta.org, Bartow County will provide a wide variety of holiday events. Seventeen events are listed for December, nine of which are holiday-related. From ballets to musical concerts, area theaters also will offer the public an array of festive programs.
The Cartersville City Ballet will help usher in the festivities with the classic Christmas ballet, "The Nutcracker." The ballet, which has been performed locally since the 1980s, will be presented at The Grand Theatre -- 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville -- Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 4 at 1:30 and 7:30 p.m.
"It's charming," said Terri Kayser, artistic director for the Cartersville City Ballet. "It's about a girl who receives a gift from her uncle and he's a bit of an eccentric. Then she kind of goes through this magical adventure and it all turns out OK in the end. Everything's good in the end. The ballet itself has a story to it and I think it's definitely the kind of story that children all the way through adults relate to.
"[During] the holiday season, some people come every year. They treat it as a tradition. ... We definitely play with the choreography a bit every year so that these people that come, they're going to see something a little bit different [each year]. It's not going to be the exact same thing they saw last year. We do it for the audiences but also I think it makes it interesting for those dancers who've been a part of it. As choreographers and artists, you always want to see what can I do to make this better? How can I improve this? What can I do to make this more interesting? So it's always a work in progress."
One of the most visible changes to repeat patrons will be the part of Clara's eccentric uncle, Herr Drosselmeyer. Previously played by the late Don Kordecki, who passed away in October, the role now will be portrayed by Allen Weirick.
"Don and I knew each other over 30 years and once we started presenting 'The Nutcracker' he always portrayed the part of Drosselmeyer," Kayser said. "Don was more than just someone who came every year and portrayed Drosselmeyer. He and I were definitely good friends and colleagues. He definitely brought a sense of good spirit to it. I feel like Don wasn't just a performer. He was a teacher.
"He definitely brought his excitement for the part and his knowledge of the theater on and off the stage. ... So definitely we're going to miss him but there's no doubt Don would want the show to go on. That's the kind of performer and person he was. I feel lucky with Dr. Weirick because to me he has a lot of similar qualities of Mr. Kordecki. He's a teacher at Woodland High School, so he's got that sense of teaching but he's also definitely got a wonderful sense of humor. And he just really relates well to everyone whether it be to adults or students."
Weirick will join about 100 other dancers in the production. Some of the featured roles will be Clara -- Ellie Fields and Tracey Dee Heath; Nutcracker Prince -- Tyler Bucher and McKenna Whipple; Sugar Plum Fairy -- Shelby Doyle and Rosie White; Dew Drop Fairy -- Sara Whitener and Doyle; and Mouse Queen -- Cara Collier and Whitener.
To obtain tickets for "The Nutcracker," individuals need to call 770-386-7343. Reserved tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for students.