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Christmas Season Lights Up the Area

The Spirit of Christmas will enter the air this weekend, as seasonal festivities kick off in Alston on Saturday, November 25, and in Vidalia on Tuesday, November 28.


The 2nd Annual Christmas on the Circle celebration will be held from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday, November 25, in the area near the Caboose. This event will bring food, vendors, crafts, kids’ train rides, face painting, slides, caroling, ornament decorating, and pictures with Santa to the area, and will officially begin the Christmas season as the Alston Tree Lighting and Dedication service will be held at 6 p.m. at the Caboose.

The event began last year when Event Director Kahla Outler had a desire to bring back a past tradition. “Some of my fondest memories from childhood are going to see the lights in Alston, the fall festival, and trick or treating. The fall festival has been long gone but the others are still traditions we hold,” She remarked. “My aunt, Faye Outler, started the lights in Alston and she was so talented and always brightened up the town. I remember helping her as a child. Many in our community have kept this tradition alive over the years. Our tree lighting ceremony has gotten bigger each year with more people attending. This sparked interest in finding a way to include our community in an event. The festival has been something we have wanted to do for many years. Last year we decided at the last minute to give it a try. We had a great turn out. We had 30 vendors. This year we have 55 vendors. It’s a growing event in our small town. We may be a tiny town, but this event has opened up opportunities for local small businesses to come and show off their talents.”

This year, the Tree Lighting and Dedication will honor the late Paul Downie, a longtime Alston citizen. As part of the celebration, attendees are invited to bring a single ornament for the city’s Christmas tree that will represent their family. “Mr. Jim ‘Paul’ Downie was a native of Montgomery County and lived in Alston most of his life. He was a retired farmer, and an Army Air Force veteran of World War II serving in the European Theater. He served on the Montgomery County Board of Education for 20 years, and on the Alston City Council for 40 years. He also ran the gas station in Alston for many years,” Outler explained. “We honor him this year for his dedication and service to his country and community. He was a family man who loved his wife, daughter, and grandchildren. He was a blessing to our community.”

Event organizers will also work to give back to the community around them, as donations of canned food or toiletries will be accepted to be distributed to the Hope House and Montgomery County Senior Center.

“I think the best part is that families can come and spend time together to kick off the Christmas season. Hopefully, the kids will look back at these special moments and cherish them as I do,” Outler emphasized.

For more information, call Kahla Outler at (423) 453-9020.


The City of Vidalia will light up with Christmas cheer on Tuesday, November 28, as they host the annual Tree Lighting Cer- emony at the Ronnie A. Dixon City Park. The ceremony will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, and will feature free hot cocoa, crafts, a coloring contest, toy drop, and performances from local talents, the Vidalia High School SoundTribe and Sassy Sister Dance Studio. Santa himself will make an appearance, as the city lights the Christmas tree in the park, symbolizing the beginning of the Christmas season.

“This is a great way for the community to come together and really kick off such a special season,” Downtown Vidalia Association Executive Director Tonya Parker commented. “Christmas is a time of joy, love, and fellowship, and the tree lighting celebrates just that. It is always so fun seeing families and children all enjoy this event, as the excitement of Christmas begins.”

Admission to the event is free and all members of the public are welcomed to attend. For more information, contact Tonya Parker at (912) 537-8033.

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