The Lights! Lights! festival returns downtown Thursday night, the community’s annual entree into the Christmas season. But if you can’t experience the sights and sounds in person, CNS is offering you the next best thing.

For the first time, the event will be broadcast live both on CNS television and on the internet.

Santa Claus is expected to come down First Street in his reindeer-drawn sleigh, arriving at the courthouse about 6 p.m. to lead the crowd in the countdown to the illumination of the canopy of lights. After that, he’ll be available for children to whisper their Christmas wishes.

Cavorting through the crowd will be Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Elmo, and Woody from “Toy Story.”

On the courthouse grounds, artist Andrew Underdown will be signing the 2011 Moultrie Christmas ornament, which features Moultrie’s First United Methodist Church. Commemorative Lights! Lights! T-shirts will be sold there as well.

Crossing 47 will perform Christmas songs on the stage.

But if — for whatever reason — you can’t make it downtown, the event will be broadcast live on CNS’s local channel in Moultrie, Thomasville, Cairo, Camilla and Pelham, according to Moultrie Main Street Director Amy Johnson; in Moultrie, that’s Channel 6. It can also be seen via streaming video at www.moultriega.com.

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