“We will be doing the official Christmas tree lighting in Friendship Plaza,” said Tara Currier, manager of the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority. “So we’ll have Mayor Pro Tem Dianne Tate doing the lighting at approximately 5:59 p.m., which is before the start of the Christmas parade. And then leading up to that beginning at 4 o’clock, Santa Claus will be here so people can come on down and get their picture made with him free of charge — just bring your own camera, sit in his lap and have your photo made. And we’ll have Christmas music going on and then dance demonstrations by Cartersville School of Ballet and Fusion Dance Company.
“[We are] also very excited to announce that we will have an ice skating rink available for kids of all ages to come out and ice skate from 3:30 until 6:30 p.m. That will be located just on the other side of the tracks on Museum Drive, right next to the Welcome Center and that is sponsored by Family Savings Credit Union and Kasasa. There’s just so much going on the night of the Christmas parade in downtown Cartersville.”
For Family Savings Credit Union, sponsoring an ice skating rink in downtown Cartersville is an opportunity to give back to the community this holiday.
Scotty Bell, branch manager of the Family Savings’ east branch, said, “Being able to support this event with ‘Kasasa On Ice’ is one way we can uphold our commitment to community growth. By offering Kasasa in Cartersville and integrating it into this event is just an example of how Family Savings Credit Union gives back to the community and puts dollars back into account holders pockets.”
At 5:59 p.m., the 50-foot Japanese Cryptomeria will be illuminated 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. 13.
Area residents are encouraged to enter a non-commercial or commercial float in the parade by Nov. 24. With entrance fees ranging from $50 to $200, proceeds from the parade will benefit local charities, such as Advocates for Children, Bartow Christmas Coalition, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County and The Etowah Foundation.
“We’ve had people as early [as] September calling and inquiring about how to get signed up and be a part of the parade,” said Jennifer Wiggins Matthews, Christmas Parade chair. “So we’ve had, as usual, a very good response. We hope that continues because we enjoy putting this together for the community. And we like it to be a big event full of lots of floats and things for the community.
“It’s great, I think from both aspects — to be a part of and to watch it,” she said, adding Bartow County Commissioner Clarence Brown will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. “It’s kind of the official kick off of the Christmas season for a lot of people here because it’s usually the Thursday after Thanksgiving, always being the first Thursday of December. And I think probably one of the great things is it doesn’t cost anything for people to come and enjoy. That’s the main reason that we do it is that we provide something for the Christmas holiday that doesn’t cost people anything to come out and watch and enjoy.”
The benefiting organizations also will receive funds collected in the parade’s bucket brigade, manned by members of the Exchange Club. Last year’s offering raised $10,000 for children’s charities, with $750 generated through the bucket brigade.
“[During the bucket brigade] we do ask people, those who can, to give a donation — their pocket change or a dollar — because all of the money goes to children’s charities,” Matthews said. “But as we walk along the parade route and [we] see the children’s faces in anticipation of seeing Santa Claus — [that] is worth any work that we have to do because they’re just so eager to see him.”
For more information about the parade, call 678-719-2306 or visit www.cartersvilleexchange.com.
Along with ice skating, another new addition to this year’s offerings will be the Jingle Jog at 5:45 p.m., which will be presented by Cartersville-Bartow County Exchange Club and Advocates for Children. Encouraged to wear festive attire, participants will jog the 1.4 mile course along the parade route.
Proceeds from the Jingle Jog will support Advocates for Children, which serves about 2,600 area youth each year through the Flowering Branch Children’s Shelter and providing services that assist in the awareness, prevention and treatment of child abuse. Since about 55 percent of Advocates’ annual $1.6 million budget is raised by the local community, benefits like the “Jingle Jog” are integral to the nonprofit’s success.
To register for the Jingle Jog, visit www.AdvoChild.org. Entry fees include $25 for early bird registration and $30 on Dec. 6, 4 p.m., at the Tabernacle Baptist Church parking lot.
For more information, visit www.AdvoChild.org or call 770-387-1143.