Young and old alike came out in full force to celebrate the beginning of the holidays at events in Dawsonville this weekend. Despite the rain and cold, residents brought in the Christmas season with a parade, tree lighting and other festivities around town.
The Dawson County Parks and Recreation Department held its annual Breakfast with Santa event Saturday morning. The free event included Chick-fil-A biscuits, children's activities, visits with Santa, carriage rides and a bouncy house.
One Dawsonville family, the Martins, came out dressed for their Christmas pictures with Santa. Mom Megan, dad Daniel, sons Davey and Payton and daughter Jenette all posed for pictures astride the red sleigh after Santa heard the young boys' whispered Christmas wishlists.
"We came last year," said Megan Martin after filling out her information on a form so she could receive her family's photographs. "The kids love it and they have a blast."
Vendors and helpers included Boy Scout Troop 422, Rosebud Sweets, Dawson Family Connection, Wee Books, Dawson Eye Group, Bradley's Pumpkin Patch, LifeSouth Community Blood Centers, Moohan Martial Arts and more.
The senior center held their Christmas bazaar the same day from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. The bazaar is normally held in the Rock Creek Park gym during Breakfast with Santa, but the center decided to break off this year and hold the bazaar and annual art show at the center.
Paintings and jewelry made by the seniors at the center were on sale, as well as various handmade goods and gifts made by seniors in the community. The senior center quilt was also raffled off during the bazaar.
The main event in town on Saturday was the Christmas Parade and lighting of the tree. The parade began at 5 p.m. at Goodson's pharmacy and ended at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame. A few hundred people lined the streets in the rain to see the floats and groups go by, many of which threw candy to the umbrella-yielding onlookers.
Following the parade was a ceremony where the chamber of commerce presented the parade winners and the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame was open for free cookie decorating and hot chocolate, as well as where vendors sold gifts and handmade goods at the Jingle Market.
Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan officiated the tree lighting ceremony and thanked all of the sponsors and citizens that participated.
"We've got so much to be thankful for in this community," Grogan said. "We live in a wonderful place and you can't ask for anything better than being 10 minutes from the mountains, five minutes from the lake and 45 minutes from Atlanta, and also live in a community with real friends that come out and support the community like we have tonight. Thank you so much."
Representatives from the chamber of commerce, which assists in hosting the three events, said they were happy with the turnout.
"This year we had the greatest participation yet in the Jingle Market, Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting," said Christie Haynes, chamber of commerce president. "Despite the rain, we were thrilled with the turnout and love partnering with the City of Dawsonville to host this community event."
Harmony Baptist Church won Best in Parade for their giant Christmas tree and nativity float, and Daffodil Salon won Most Creative for their Elsa and Frozen inspired float. There were also four Best in Class Awards, which went to Cub Scouts pack 133, Rotary Club of Dawson County, Christmas for Critters and Dawson County Lions Club. There were 22 participating groups overall in the parade.
After the awards were given out, the giant city hall Christmas tree was lit for the first time this year as a gathered crowd looked on.
"There is something special about having so many of your friends and neighbors in the same place to celebrate the beginning of this cherished season," Haynes said. "The Dawson County Chamber is proud to host the event along with the City of Dawsonville and sincerely hope that it remains a community tradition for years to come."