Downtown Cartersville kicks off Christmas season Thursday

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Cartersville will usher in the Christmas season with three festive events Thursday evening.

Along with the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority’s Free Pictures With Santa and Christmas Tree Lighting being held in conjunction with the Cartersville-Bartow County Exchange Club’s Christmas Parade, the Bartow History Museum will present its Family Friendly Sip ’N Stroll.

“We are extremely excited about this year’s tree lighting event because this will be our first year lighting our brand new tree,” said Courtney Sutter, Cartersville DDA’s marketing and promotions coordinator. “The new tree stands at about 25 feet tall and 9 feet wide. It is a commercial grade beauty with all the bells and whistles.

“We believe the new tree will be a great addition to downtown Cartersville because as we continue to grow as a community, we want to be able to offer the best events and experiences. This will be a fun-filled night you won’t want to miss thanks to our event sponsor Cartersville Medical Center and Santa sponsor Chick-fil-A at Cherokee Place.”

At 3:30 p.m., the tree ceremony will begin at Friendship Plaza beside the Cartersville train depot, with the conifer being illuminated by Cartersville Mayor Matt Santini at 6 p.m.

“We wanted to upgrade our Christmas decorations and we got the new tree donated unexpectedly from Kings Upscale Resale,” Sutter said. “We knew the existing tree was in poor shape, the city had an arborist look at it to confirm, so we took the opportunity to create a place for the new tree and make sure the old tree was safely removed.”

During the DDA’s offering, visits with Santa will take center stage.

“This year, Cindy Harter Photography will be bringing a new set up that includes a Christmas decorated RV,” Sutter said. “Cindy and Santa will be set up from 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. inside the plaza. Pictures are first come first serve, so we highly suggest getting to the plaza early to secure your spot in line. While you are waiting in line, Chick-fil-A at Cherokee Place will be serving a variety of menu items to keep you and your family full.

“We will also have Bartow County School System at the plaza giving away free books for children ranging from infants to fifth-graders. To stay warm, Advocates for Children will be selling warm drinks and giving out free cookies. Once pictures have ended, the Cartersville School of Ballet will put on a free performance from 5:30 p.m. – 5:50 p.m.”

Presented by Shottenkirk Honda for the second consecutive year, the Cartersville-Bartow County Exchange Club’s Christmas Parade will depart at 6 p.m. 

After lining up at the Tabernacle Baptist Church parking lot at 4 p.m., the parade participants will turn right on Church Street, left on Bartow Street, left on Main Street, left on Stonewall Street, left on Church Street, right on Tennessee Street, left on Howard Street and then return to Tabernacle Baptist. In case of rain, the parade will be rescheduled for Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.

“People should come to [the] parade to kick off the Christmas season in Cartersville,” said Jim Edwards, president of the Cartersville-Bartow County Exchange Club. “The parade provides a means for the town to unite in one place to celebrate the holiday with friends and family.

“The parade route is stacked five or more people deep along the entire route. If attendees want a prime viewing spot, they will need to arrive early to claim their spot.”

Area residents can enter a noncommercial or commercial float or vehicle in the parade through Wednesday. The official deadline has passed, so participants will be charged an additional $50.

Proceeds from the parade — donations to the Bucket Brigade at the beginning of the event and entrance fees — will benefit Advocates for Children, Bartow Christmas Coalition, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County and the Etowah Scholarship Foundation.

“The Bucket Brigade is a lot of fun to lead off the parade and see everyone along the parade route,” said Jennifer Wiggins Matthews, member of the Cartersville-Bartow County Exchange Club. “We encourage people to give to the Bucket Brigade, because it allows us to donate more money to the children's charities supported by the parade.

“The event is a free event for the community to attend and all we ask is for everyone to share a $1 or their pocket change to help us raise more money for the children in need in Bartow County. I am amazed each year by the people who donate to the Bucket Brigade and we greatly appreciate everyone who donates.”

For those taking part in the Bartow History Museum’s Sip ’N Stroll, a designated viewing spot will be secured for the parade after initially meeting at the TRC, 1 Gilmer St. As the parade concludes, Sip ’N Stroll attendees will embark on their walking tour that will conclude at the museum with cocoa, cookies and Christmas carols.

“We will be using downtown homes and businesses to help us tell the history and stories of Cartersville Christmas traditions past and present,” said Joshua Graham, program manager for the BHM. “We really want to build on the wonderful tradition of the parade itself to gather together to watch it as a group, and once it passes us by, start our guided tour that will talk about Christmas traditions of the past 100 years. We will have hot cocoa stops at local business partners, such as Strands Salon as well.”

Tickets — $12 for adults and $10 for ages 6 to 18 — need to be purchased in advance and can be obtained at www.BartowHistoryMuseum.org.

For more information about the parade or to obtain an application, visit www.cartersvilleexchange.com or call 770-382-8571. Further details about the Christmas Tree Lighting can be obtained by contacting the Cartersville DDA at 770-607-3480.