Albany, Leesburg ready for parades

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY -- With Thanksgiving 2009 now a memory, both Albany and Leesburg will welcome the Christmas season with parades Saturday.

In the Good Life City, the halls are decked in preparation of Albany's 19th annual Christmas parade on Saturday.

With the theme, "Holly, Jolly Christmas," the yearly event will kick off with pre-parade entertainment at 5 p.m. Saturday on the 200 block of Pine Street and Broad Avenue.

"The Murphy Dancers will perform," said parade representative Teresa Stanton of the Albany Water, Gas & Light Commission.

In addition, food vendors will be on hand with concessions to purchase.

Following the entertainment will be the lighting of the city's Christmas tree, which will tower above the downtown area.

"It's a 25-foot Leyland cypress," Stanton said. "The tree was donated by Dot and Glenn Dowling."

While sporting 10,000 lights to give off a Yuletide glow, the cypress has an additional significance, as well.

"This tree is called Sara's Tree," Stanton said. "The tree lighting will be held in memory of Sara Underdown, who was with the Albany Chamber of Commerce and died of cancer."

The 6 p.m. tree lighting will signal the beginning of the annual Christmas parade, which will be led by two 6-year-old costumed children, Hunter Farrow of Leesburg and Cohdi Rosen of Albany.

"They'll be dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy," Stanton said.

Following the pair will be approximately 125 parade entries, including area high school bands, clowns and floats.

Of course, Santa Claus will make his appearance at the event, while taking a break from his visit at the Albany Mall.

According to Stanton, the Albany Christmas parade draws approximately 40,000 spectators each year, including visitors from outside the area surrounding the Good Life City.

"We've had them come as far north as Macon," she said.

Southwest Georgians ready for a morning parade can head to downtown Leesburg Saturday for its "Spirit of Christmas Parade and Festival," which kicks off at 10 a.m. with floats, high school bands and additional holiday attractions.

Following the parade will be an all-day festival, which will feature the chance to have photos taken with that jolly old elf, Santa Claus.

Admission is free.

The event will also include a gingerbread house contest, live entertainment and vendors offering gift ideas and food for purchase.

Leesburg's Christmas celebration will culminate with an outdoor movie, which kicks off at 6 p.m.

For more information about the Albany Christmas Parade, contact Stanton at (229) 883-8330, ext. 210 or tstanton@wgl.albany.ga.org.

For more information about Lee County Chamber of Commerce's Spirit of Christmas Parade and Festival, call Lisa Davis at (229) 759-9224.