Celebrating Christmas in Camden
From light displays to plays to tours of home to a live nativity, there are many different ways to celebrate the holidays in Camden County. Here’s a roundup of the various Christmas events.
Camden County High School students will present Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol,” adapted by John Jakes, at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 9 and 10, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 11. They will also share the play with all nine of the elementary schools in Camden through Dec. 16.
The performance runs about 45 minutes in length and features students from the CCHS Advanced Drama class under the direction of fine arts director Dean Slusser.
Tickets are $5 in advance and $7 at the door. Advance tickets can be purchased at the Kingsland Welcome Center, Tribune & Georgian office in St. Marys or online at www.sellingticket.com/cchs.
Scrooge is visited by a ghostly apparition, Marley, fettered with the chains he forged in life. He comes to warn his former business partner that unless he changes his ways, the two will share the same fate. In the hours that follow, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Jared Adkins) is visited by three spirits and becomes a changed man.
The cast of characters is filled with familiar faces and some newer ones. Chance Wills and Will Hodges appear as Ebenezer as a young adult and as a child respectively. Scrooge's ghostly nemeses include Jeff Unger, Tori Tracey, Matthew Rector and Josiah Arreola. Joseph Burrows and Jazzmine Coleman portray Bob Cratchit and his wife, and Adan Necaise is Tiny Tim. The company is rounded out by more than 20 additional members of cast and crew.
There are several events Saturday, Dec. 10, in St. Marys.
Santa Express — Anything can happen on the Santa Express. The Grinch could become an elf. Frosty the Snowman could come alive. And it could even snow in South Georgia.
The Santa Express departs at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Saturday from Theatre by the Trax in downtown St. Marys, taking passengers on a journey to Santa Land where the magic begins. Entertainment all along the way gets everyone into the holiday spirit. Then Santa comes aboard with gifts for all the good little boys and girls.
Children of all ages from 2 to 92 will enjoy the storybook ride on the rails through woodlands and over marshlands.
“Last year’s Santa Express was so successful, we really wanted to think out of the box to make this year’s even more exciting,” said Barbara Ryan, entertainment director for St. Marys Express. “Of course, there’s always a happy ending and passengers really enjoy the interactive experience.”
Ryan expects an early sellout just like last year and hopes families will reserve their seats to avoid disappointment.
“For those who yearn for an old-fashioned family tradition holiday event, this is the ticket,” said Doug Vaught, stationmaster and narrator on the train. “Many of our families return each year to usher in their holidays by riding the Santa Express together.”
Each ride lasts about an hour and a half and takes guests through scenic woodlands and marshlands to Santa Village where it makes the turnaround. Tickets are $20 for adults and $14 for children. Children 2 and younger ride free. Tickets can be purchased at www.stmarysrailroad.com or by calling (912) 200-5235. Groups of 10 or more should call (912) 729-1103.
Tour of homes — The St. Marys Christmas Tour of Homes is a holiday tradition that captures the essence of Christmas. The tour will be held from 5:30 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10. In addition to Orange Hall, the tour will feature beautifully decorated private homes, churches and local businesses. The centerpiece of the tour, and the recommended starting point, is Orange Hall, a circa 1830s Greek Revival mansion that will be decked out with multiple trees and a festive holiday decor.
Historic homes this year include the 1874 Folk Victorian Collier-Casey House plus its vacation rentals, the Captains Quarters and the Commissary Cottage along with the uniquely shaped 1916 Oliver House, which highlights the original heart pine and oak interior elements. Participants can also enjoy the renovated historic district home of Barbara Lundin and Judy Furlong and, finally, the Kelleys’ new construction home on Dilworth Street.
The First Presbyterian Church will have more than 100 nativity scenes from around the world on display throughout the night, the St. Marys United Methodist Church will have the historic 1856 Methodist chapel open for tours all evening and the First Baptist Church will begin its Christmas musical “That’s the Good News!” at 6:30 p.m.
Refreshments and entertainment will be offered along the tour route, including sweet treats at the Spencer House Inn, Blue Goose Hostel & Café, Riverview Hotel and Cottle & Gunn. The Blue Goose will also offer a tour of homes special during the event.
Tour tickets are $15 in advance and $20 the day of the event. Advance tickets can be purchased at the St. Marys Welcome Center via cash or check. A tour map is provided so attendees can easily drive from point to point.
The Christmas Tour of Homes event is sponsored by the St. Marys Convention and Visitors Bureau. For more information on the tour or other events, call the St. Marys Welcome Center at (912) 882-4000 or visit www.visitstmarys.com.
Choir performance — The worship choir of First Baptist Church in St. Marys will present a Christmas musical called “That’s the Good News!” at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10, and Sunday, Dec. 11, at the church, 102 W. Weed St. “That’s the Good News!” tells the story of Will, a radio news announcer who is feeling empty and alone as he reads each day about the bad things that happen to good people and faces Christmas without his wife of 40 years for the first time. Through the help of friends, he comes to understand the real good news.
The annual live nativity begins at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 13, at Orange Hall. The scene will also be reenacted at 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with musical performances in between. Bleachers will be provided for those who wish to remain seated during the event.
Baby Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the angel Gabriel, the Three Wise Men, the Little Drummer Boy and live nativity animals will present the story of Jesus' birth with a backdrop of Orange Hall.
This event has been a tradition since 2006 and is sponsored by the City of St. Marys Main Street office and TDS TV.
St. Marys Little Theatre will present the original musical “A 1944 Noel” as its Christmas spectacular production for 2016. The play will be performed at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 16, and Saturday, Dec. 17, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, at Theatre by the Trax.
Written and directed by Hannah James, the original musical tells the story of a family whose father has gone off to fight in World War II leaving them behind to wrestle with uncertainty.
Traditional and original songs will be used to weave a story that will engage the audience until the final dramatic moments, according to Barbara Ryan, chair of St. Marys Little Theatre.
“A 1944 Noel” is the perfect way to get into the holiday spirit, Ryan said.
“The story is inspiring. The music is inspiring. The performers are inspiring,” Ryan said. “People of all ages will walk away from the theater with a better sense of what ‘peace on Earth’ really means.”
Tickets for “A 1944 Noel” are being sold now at Once Upon a Bookseller, On the Green Salon & Day Spa and Friese Studio of Music in St. Marys. Out of towners can call (912) 729-1103 to reserve tickets.
Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for children 12 and younger. Visit www.stmaryslittletheatre.com for more information or call (912) 729-1103.
Residents and visitors to the area are invited to the 37th annual Christmas on Devon Drive in St. Marys.
The residents of Devon Drive have been preparing for the Christmas season and entryways, mailboxes and many of the houses have been adorned with white lights and other decorations. Arches across the street give the effect of a wonderland.
From dusk until 10 p.m. Christmas Eve, Saturday, Dec. 24, the entire length of Devon Drive will be lined with luminaries on both sides, weather permitting. The residents hope everyone will stop by and share this occasion with them.
For the 12th year, it is planned to give something to the animals at the Humane Society of Camden County. Various items for use at the shelter are requested on Christmas Eve to add to the donation. Dog and cat food, litter, newspapers, Dawn detergent, treats and other needed items will all be accepted. A truck will be parked at the entrance to receive all donations.
Devon Drive will be one way on Christmas Eve. Drivers should use only their parking lights on their vehicle and drive slowly as there will be people walking. There is no rain date for the luminaries; they are lit only on Christmas Eve. The house lights are on every evening during the Christmas season.