Holidays warming up downtown Woodstock
by Juanita Hughes
November 28, 2012 12:00 AM | 1137 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Juanita Hughes
Juanita Hughes
If the gift certificate promotion at the Woodstock Visitors Center is any indication, Woodstock merchants had a successful Black Friday and an equally good Saturday.

The monthly Friday Night Live, one of many activities of the Main Street Program, sponsors a drawing for a give-away of a $100 gift certificate to be used downtown.

For each $10 spent with a downtown merchant during the three hours of FNL, the customer rates one entry in the drawing.

The decision to make the same offer available during this past Friday and Saturday brought a pleasant surprise. Around 100 people walked through the doors at the Visitors Center at Dean’s Store each of the two days.

The weather was great. The merchants had sales, the customers were in holiday mode, and although many were shopping for the next big holiday, the atmosphere was still one of Thanksgiving.

Local folks were hosting friends and relatives from such faraway places as Fairbanks, Alaska, and Chicago, Ill. A trip to Woodstock’s busy little small-town, hometown, downtown, shopping area was the perfect element to complete the Thanksgiving holiday.

I didn’t see Santa Claus all day, and folks were still saying Happy Thanksgiving instead of Merry Christmas. Families seemed to be enjoying just being together.

I realize that not everyone was fortunate enough to be with family for Turkey Day.

That’s why it warmed my heart to hear of one incidence where some folks with no nearby close family were treated to a home-like gathering at the home of a friend.

David and his friend, Nancy, planned the event. Invitations were sent to about 30 people, some of whom were related to one of them, others who were friends or neighbors.

Name tags were prepared using first names only, but with added information explaining their connections with the hosts or with each other. One might say “Joe, David’s neighbor” or “Louise, Nancy’s daughter’s sister-in-law” or, a little more complicated, “Phil, David’s cousin’s wife’s uncle.” Or “David, cook, host, friend, brother.”

Placemats came with writing utensils to be used in listing those things for which each guest was thankful. A couple of neighbor children happily wrote that they were thankful for Miss Nancy and Mr. David, and never mentioned their own parents. From the mouths of babes ...

It was reported that the food was great, and folks went home having made new friends and new memories. What a way to celebrate this special holiday.

While shopping is not the only focus in Woodstock this upcoming weekend, that does not mean that the streets and sidewalks will be empty. Just the opposite, it will be bumper-to-bumper, press-the-flesh, as the annual Christmas Jubilee and Parade of Lights and festivities in the park bring hundreds, perhaps thousands, into the downtown.

Come early before parade time, park in one of many lots, shop, eat, do some people-watching, and find a viewing spot for the parade. (In fact, the early birds out there might want to attend the 2 p.m. free … with a can of soup … presentation of The Lazy Elves by the Elm Street Players in their auditorium across the street from the park.)

Lighted floats, vehicles and walkers will leave the old Walmart parking lot at 5:30 p.m., reaching downtown around 6 p.m. After the parade ends, festivities in The Park at City Center will include music, food and gift vendors, Moonwalk, and the presentation of Preservation Woodstock’s Citizen of the Year Award, followed by some time with Santa in the gazebo and an added attraction this year, movies (Rudolph and The Grinch) at 8 p.m. at the park’s lower level.

All this on the first day of December, ushering in those magical days of anticipation for young and old alike.

Our family’s Thanksgiving, while not so global as David and Nancy’s, was one to remember. It was the usual crowd with some extended family, but minus our Tifton family.

We did the traditional photo, but this time the individual families were color-coded. The children were most entertaining, the food was outstanding, and whoever was in charge of the weather for Cherokee that day did a great job. Can you recall a better Thanksgiving Day weather-wise? Here’s hoping for a repeat of that for Woodstock’s Jubilee activities on Saturday.

The first year of this tradition was 1997, the Centennial of the city’s birth. It was the coldest Dec. 6 on record in Georgia at the time. Just in case, remember that the Visitors Center will be open and I’m in charge of the thermostat.

Juanita Hughes is Woodstock’s official historian and former director of the Woodstock Public Library.
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