(Photo by Tim Jaynes, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Those looking for some bargains and holiday fun should find it during this weekend's Charleston Christmas Celebration.
Festivities will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday with a Christmas parade traveling down Main Street. This year's theme is "Songs of Christmas."
"Charleston used to have an evening parade and all the merchants would stay open late. We thought we would bring back that old-fashioned Christmas spirit we used to have," said Claudia Arington, executive director of the Charleston Chamber of Commerce.
Charleston's Christmas parade is usually held early on the Saturday of the first weekend of December, and East Prairie conducts a parade that night, Arington said.
"We didn't want to mess with East Prairie's parade, and the merchants have been so willing to help," Arington said.
All the local merchants are planning to be open after the parade, and each will offer promotions.
"The Chamber office will be open, and we are going to have hot drinks and cookies for everyone," Arington said. " Santa and Mrs. Claus will be here if you want to have your picture taken with him so bring your camera and snap away."
After the parade and visiting with merchants, the First Baptist Church of Charleston will present a piano praise concert.
"If you are not in the Christmas spirit, you certainly will be after this wonderful concert," Arington said.
The concert will feature six pianos and 12 pianists under the direction of Betty Hearnes of Charleston.
"People like the pianos," Hearnes said. "It's all Christmas music, and the church is decorated really pretty."
The concert will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday with another performance at 6 p.m. Sunday at the church.
Hearnes, who is also the chair of Arts and Tourism commission in Charleston, said the city is asking its residents to "light up their homes" for the event.
"Everybody's trying to spruce up the front of their houses, including the court house and city hall," Hearnes said. "I think everybody's pretty excited."
Hearnes said different musical groups will be featured around the houses on the tour.
Also, the drawing for a $1,000 raffle will take place following the parade on Saturday. Tickets are $25 each and available at the Chamber office.
"We're selling only 100 tickets, and there's not many left," Arington said. "It's a high-dollar ticket but it gives people more of a chance to win."
The winner doesn't have to be present.
Meanwhile, Arington said those who plan their evening around the event, which is sponsored by the Charleston Chamber of Commerce and Charleston Arts and Tourism, will be in for a treat.
She said: "We are excited about the town and all the fun activities that have been planned."