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Weather wont deter Christmas events
Celebration of Lights is tonight
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Forsyth County News

If you’re going

* Northside Hospital-Forsyth’s Celebration of Lights is set for 5 to 8 tonight at the hospital.

* Jingle Jog 5K begins with registration at 7:30 a.m. Saturday. The race starts at 8:30 a.m. at Cumming Town Center on Market Place Boulevard. Cost to participate is $30.

* 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

Though the weather outside might be a little frightful, organizers of tonight’s Celebration of Lights at Northside Hospital-Forsyth and Saturday’s Jingle Jog and Cumming Christmas Parade say the events will go on rain or shine.

The National Weather Service is calling for an 80 percent chance of showers tonight and a 50 percent chance Saturday, with temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s.

Despite the likelihood of damp weather, the Christmas activities will kick off at 5 tonight.

“We have some entertainment starting early, but the main event is from 6 to 8 p.m.,” said Katherine Watson, a Northside spokeswoman.

“Activities will include face painting, cookie decorating, arts and crafts, sand art, photos with Santa and much more.”

Most of the Celebration of Lights activities will take place under a giant tent in one of the hospital’s parking areas, so rain shouldn’t be a hindrance. The event culminates at 8 p.m. with the lighting of the giant Christmas tree atop the hospital.

All the lights on the tree represent people who have battled cancer or those who have cared for them. The public can buy lights during tonight’s event or any time before Christmas.

This year marks the 25thanniversary of the Celebration of Lights, which is also held at Northside’s Atlanta and Alpharetta campuses.

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

Entertainment at the local event includes pianist Samuel Mishkin at 5 p.m., Coal Mountain Elementary School at 6:10 p.m., Kelly Mill Elementary at 6:50 p.m. and Forsyth Central High School at 7:50 p.m.

Several local dance studios and Findley Oaks Elementary in north Fulton will also offer performances at various times between 6 and 8 p.m.

Saturday, the holiday events begin at 7:30 a.m. with registration for the Jingle Jog 5K, a fundraiser for the Forsyth County Community Connection.

The run, which is expected to draw more than 500 participants, begins at 8:30 a.m. The course will begin at Cumming Town Center, 2085 Market Place Blvd., and travel up Buford Dam Road and through downtown Cumming.

The course was changed this year so runners could head downhill toward the finish, rather than uphill as they have in years past.

Runners may sign up for the race Saturday morning at a cost of $30.

After the Jingle Jog, the annual Christmas parade begins at 10:30 a.m. along Market Place.

Like the Jingle Jog’s course, the parade start time has been shifted this year. Previously held in the afternoon, organizers decided to move it to the morning hours to hopefully encourage more spectators to eat and shop at the merchants along the bustling retail corridor.

Anna Barlow, tourism director of the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, said she is expecting the procession to be the largest in the event’s history.

She noted that float registration had to be closed since the 60 spots filled up so fast.

In addition, the parade will be led by a group new to the event this year, the 116thGeorgia Army National Guard Band.

Following the band will be a wide range of groups such as elected officials, area Boy and Girl Scouts, churches, civic groups and businesses.

“And of course Santa Claus will be at the end of the parade to wish everybody well and a merry Christmas,” Barlow said.

Last year’s parade attracted between 5,000 and 6,000 spectators.

“The parade is rain or shine, so we hope everyone will come out and have fun even if it is a little wet,” she said.