MOULTRIE -- The annual Lights! Lights! Thanksgiving Night celebration will start at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 24. Residents will be able to see the downtown lights and community tree lit up as Moultrie officially kicks off the holiday season.

City of Moultrie Main Street Director Amy Johnson said this is the event of the year for Moultrie. Residents and out-of-town visitors look forward to the lighting each year, and local merchants spend all year preparing for it because it is such a big event for the city.

There will be a brief program taking place at Lewis Hill Amphitheater starting at 6 p.m., and Johnson said Crossing 47, a youth band, will be performing Christmas carols throughout the night. The group features vocalist Kaitlyn Payne, winner of the 2005 Junior Downtown Idol competition held at Spring Fling.

Santa Claus will arrive shortly after the program starts with all of his reindeer, Johnson said. Santa will then lead the crowd in a countdown, and the lights and community tree will be lit.

Johnson said pony and carriage rides will be available after the lighting, and more than 20 downtown merchants will be open for business. The Moultrie Junior Woman's Club will have pictures with Santa available for everyone.

David Hill, the artist for the 2005 Downtown Moultrie Association Christmas ornament, will sign the ornament during the festivities, Johnson said. This year's ornament features the Colquitt County Courthouse, a popular and often requested building for the annual ornament that is a fundraiser for the Downtown Moultrie Association.

Anyone who would like ornaments from previous years can contact Johnson at 890-5455. She has a limited supply of ornaments from 1991, 1993, 1996 and 1999 through 2004.

Preparation for the lighting is a long process, as Johnson said the city's electric department spent about two weeks setting up the lights around the courthouse square. The department is also responsible for setting the annual community tree on the square.

The city will hold its annual Christmas Parade on Saturday, Dec. 3, Johnson said. Applications are still available to participate in the parade by contacting Johnson, with All-American Christmas as this year's theme.

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