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Annual Christmas activities shuffled
Parade in morning, festival night before
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Forsyth County News

If you’re going

* Northside Hospital-Forsyth’s Celebration of Lights is set for 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the hospital. To purchase a light for the tree, go to or call (770) 667-4483.

* Jingle Jog 5K begins with registration at 7:30 a.m. and the race starts at 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Cumming Town Center on Market Place Boulevard. Cost is $25 before Thursday and $30 after.

* The Cumming Christmas Parade begins at 10:30 a.m. Saturday along Market Place Boulevard.

* For more information about any of the Christmas events, go to

* Also: Don’t miss the FCN’s guide to the parade in Wednesday’s edition.

Some changes are coming to annual Market Place Christmas events this year, and organizers hope they will lead to a more enjoyable experience for everyone.

Anna Barlow, tourism director with the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said the Cumming Christmas Parade has been shifted from the afternoon to 10:30 a.m. Saturday.

“We wanted to start in the morning … so we’re not interfering with business with Market Place being shut down for the afternoon,” she said. “Hopefully, the merchants will be able to get a little bit more benefit for the shopping.

“This way maybe some people stay out after the parade to go and eat and shop.”

The time change also was made in order to have “better flow” from the day’s first event, the annual Jingle Jog 5K, which begins at 8:30 a.m. “We felt [the parade] would be a better event if we tied it in more with the Jingle Jog,” Barlow said.

In addition, Northside Hospital-Forsyth has moved its Celebration of Lights, which has previously been held on Saturday night after the parade, to 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

The celebration honors those who have been affected by cancer with the lighting of giant Christmas trees atop the Northside campuses in Cumming, Alpharetta and Atlanta.

This year, which marks the Celebration of Lights’ 25thanniversary, the local event will include entertainment from several dance studios, Forsyth Central High School and Coal Mountain and Hawk Creek elementary schools. There also will be plenty of family activities, such as a petting farm, free refreshments and arts and crafts.

Since it began in 1989, Celebration of Lights has raised more than $520,000 for the Northside Hospital Cancer Institute.

Lights on the giant trees can be purchased in honor or memory of family, friends and physicians. They can be bought at Saturday’s event and throughout December.

“The event is a great reminder of the hope and promise that the holiday season can bring, which is what we want for everyone affected by cancer,” said Lynn Jackson, administrator of Northside-Forsyth.

Saturday’s festivities will kick off with the annual Jingle Jog, a fundraiser for Forsyth County Community Connection, which also will sport some changes.

While runners will still begin at Cumming Town Center, 2085 Market Place Blvd., they will run up Buford Dam Road and through downtown Cumming. In previous years, runners have made their way in the opposite direction to Mary Alice Park.

“[Participants] felt they were running up a hill at the end of the course, so this year they will be running down at the end,” Barlow said.

All funds raised from the Jingle Jog, which has about 500 people registered, benefit the Community Connection, which helps local nonprofits and matches volunteers to them.

Cost to take part in the jog is $25 if registered by Thursday and $30 after. Race day registration will be available beginning at 7:30 a.m.

Barlow said she’s expecting this year’s parade to be the largest to date.

“We had to close off the float registration already because we are way beyond what we’ve been in the past,” she said.

Some 60 floats are scheduled to take part, which is up from 50 last year. They will be competing for the titles of best overall, most creative, most original and best use of the Christmas theme.

A wide range of groups will again participate, including several Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, Cumming officials and numerous churches, businesses and civic groups.

“The 116thGeorgia Army National Guard Band will be our lead band,” Barlow said. “That’s a new addition … It’s always a great honor to have them, but even more so since that Saturday is Pearl Harbor Day.”

Other features of the parade will be an antique ladder truck from the Forsyth County Fire Department and, of course, Santa Claus himself.

“He will be at the end of the parade to wish everybody well and a merry Christmas,” said Barlow, noting that last year’s parade drew between 5,000 and 6,000 spectators.  

“Hopefully, we’ll have at least that many again this year,” she said. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed that we have beautiful weather."