Pets, possibly Posey, part of parade, festival

Santa Claus makes a special appearance at the 2009 Spirit of Christmas Parade and Festival in Leesburg.

Santa Claus makes a special appearance at the 2009 Spirit of Christmas Parade and Festival in Leesburg.

LEESBURG, Ga. -- Now that they've got a year under their collective belts, officials with the Lee County Chamber of Commerce are expecting their second Spirit of Christmas Festival, held in conjunction with the annual Spirit of Christmas Parade, to be a big hit for both man and beast.

Planned for Dec. 4, this year's festival will feature more vendors, special events for dog lovers and maybe even a hometown World Series hero. Native son Buster Posey, the newly crowned National League Rookie of the Year for the world champion San Francisco Giants, may be a festival participant.

"We're still working with Buster's agent, trying to get him involved," Lee Chamber Director of Marketing Lisa Davis said. "Obviously, he's got lots of demands on his time now, but we feel pretty good that he'll get to be a part of the festival."

With or without Posey, the Spirit of Christmas Parade and Festival promises plenty of fun for the entire family, starting at 10 a.m. with the 22nd downtown Christmas Parade.

"We had 112 entries in the parade last year, and we're already around that number for this year," Chamber Administrative Assistant Cassie Barkley said. "The crowd estimate for the festival last year was between 2,000 and 2,500, and we think we'll surpass that this year."

For dog lovers, the festival offers an opportunity to show off their pets with Dog Gone Good Christmas events at the Lee County soccer fields on Starksville Avenue. For a $10 fee, which will be donated to the county's Fifth Friday Foundation Animal Shelter, pet owners can enter their dogs in a Doggie Fun Zone obstacle course competition, costume contest and pet tricks competition.

All dogs must be on a leash for the events, which run from noon to 4 p.m.

Meanwhile, kids will have an opportunity to have their photograph taken with Santa Claus from noon to 3 p.m. or listen to stories with Mrs. Claus starting at 2 p.m. at the Starksville Avenue gym.

Attendees of all ages can enjoy live entertainment, jumping inflatables, a cake walk, fun food, and explore the goods of a variety of arts and crafts vendors throughout the day.

"We already have more vendors signed up for this year's festival than we had last year, and we'll be signing them up through Thursday," Davis said. "A couple of new vendors that we're excited about are a collectible knives display and train rides for the kids. There will also be plenty of arts and crafts and food.

"We're also holding a $2,000 cash raffle. Tickets are $20 each, and you don't have to be present to win. We'll hold a drawing around 3:30, so tickets will be available up to that time."

For additional information about the parade and festival or for vendor registration, contact the chamber at (229) 759-2422. For more information about the Dog Gone Good Christmas, contact the chamber or e-mail Judy Powell at judyp@bellsouth.net.