Towns gear up for merry times

It's that time of the year again, when the towns in and around Alachua County gear up for the holiday season with their festive parades and other merry activities.

AIDA MALLARD/Special to The Sun
Published: Wednesday, December 1, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 30, 2004 at 10:25 p.m.
Parades and tree-lighting ceremonies will usher in the holiday season in the communities in and around Gainesville.
Some will hold traditional day-time parades, while others will fill the night with Christmas lights. High Springs usually holds an evening parade, while Keystone Heights is trying the idea out for the first time this year.
Alachua will hold a Christmas parade at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11 on Main Street and U.S. 441. The theme is "Peace on Earth," and the grand marshal will be Glen Markham, a World War II veteran.
High Springs will hold a "Twilight Christmas Parade" at 6 p.m. Saturday. The theme is "A Country Christmas," and the grand marshal will be Wes Skiles, a renown photographer.
Waldo is celebrating "Christmas at the Caboose" at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 16. Santa Claus will make an entrance via a fire truck, and there will be community caroling.
Hawthorne will hold "An American Christmas" beginning at 10 a.m. Saturday with arts, crafts, activities for the children and food booths. The parade will be held at 3 p.m.
Melrose will hold a Christmas parade at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11. The theme is "Peace on Earth." There will be an Arts and Crafts Festival at Melrose Elementary School, SR 26/21, and the Melrose Bay Gallery will hold its annual Holiday Open House from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Keystone Heights is holding a Christmas parade at 6 p.m. Saturday. The theme is "Festival of Lights." Immediately following the parade, there will be a tree-lighting ceremony and community caroling at the nature park across from City Hall.
On Friday night, downtown merchants will hold a special event featuring live music and sidewalk sales.
Instead of a grand marshal, the town will honor Clay Electric employees who worked around the clock in the aftermath of the hurricanes.
Lake Butler is planning a "Christmas Parade and Celebration" at 6:30 p.m. Friday.
Starke will be hosting its third annual "Country Christmas Craft Show" from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday at the fairgrounds. A parade in downtown Starke will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 11.
Chiefland will sponsor a "Christmas Parade and Festival" Saturday around the train depot at Trailhead Park on Highway 19 South. The parade begins at 3 p.m. at Chiefland High School.
Other events include caroling, refreshment stands, and, of course, Santa.
There will be a drop-off booth for Toys for Tots and for non-perishable foods. Near dusk, there will be a tree-lighting ceremony.
In Bell, there's the 24th annual Bell Christmas Parade and Crafts Sidewalk Sale from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The parade begins at 2 p.m. and Santa visits from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the train depot. There will be live entertainment, arts, crafts and food booths.
Williston invites residents to its "Light Up Williston Celebration" at 6 p.m. Friday. There will be a parade followed by entertainment at the Linear Park Pavilion.
This year's grand marshals will be the city of Williston employees who worked so heroically during hurricane season. Pictures with Santa as well as food and refreshments will be available.
The highlight of the evening will be the illumination of the Christmas lights.
Micanopy hosts "Christmas in Micanopy" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10 at Micanopy Christian Fellowship. Eight area churches will take part in a holiday music festival.

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