Santa will arrive at The Mill amphitheater between 7:45 and 8 p.m. by way of a small train that will later be available for children to ride, but the festivities will officially begin at 7 p.m. with a live nativity provided by First Baptist Church of Villa Rica.
Other entertainment includes performances by Michelle’s Academy of Dance, the Villa Rica High School Chorus, Southern Dance Precision and the Thomas Dorsey Choir.
“This will be our biggest Christmas event ever,” Main Street Manager Kimberly Stovall said. “It’s just going to be a blast.”
As part of the ”Shop Villa Rica First” campaign, many of the shops in downtown will be open throughout the day on Saturday and many have agreed to stay open until 8 p.m. In conjunction with this effort, some of the shops will be on a raffle card that patrons will use to get stamps to be entered into a raffle drawing toward the end of the night with lots of donated prizes.
Admission to the event will be free, though there will be 30 vendors in “Santa’s Village” that will be charging fees for their wares while offering complimentary treats. There will also be a small fee for kids who would like to ride the trackless train through the Temple Street parking lot.
New this year is the Festival of Trees, a program of the Golden City Lions Club in which sponsors have funded eight trees that will each be specially decorated by local companies. The trees will be judged and prizes given with the trees planted after the event around the city.
“I think this will just kind of enhance the event,” Golden City Lions Club President Barbara Daniell said.
The Golden City Lions Club will also have a booth at The Mill to collect old eye glasses, phones and hearing aids to be refurbished or sold for parts so the Georgia Lighthouse Foundation for the Blind can support people who cannot afford to pay for surgeries and free eye clinics.
Since this is Toys for Tots grand finale, the Aubrey Gilbert Marine Corps Detachments will be present to accept toys and/or monetary donations to help kids from the West Georgia region. Patrons are encouraged to bring a new toy for the Toys for Toys effort.
“It’s not a requirement, but we’d love for everybody to bring a new, unwrapped toy for Toys for Tots,” Stovall said.
There will also be a wintery surprise late in the evening, though organizers are being very tight-lipped as to what that may entail. There will be white sand spread around Santa’s cottage to resemble snow and children are welcome to sit on Santa’s lap and have their photo taken.
“It’s just going to be a fun night,” Stovall said.