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Chili Town, Santa, holiday music and more at December F1rst Friday event
Web Holiday File photo
In this Herald file photo from last year, Jona Gaskin, center, has a brisk discussion over chili with pal and co-worker Mary Helen Law, right, during 2010's Downtown Statesboro Holiday Celebration and Chili Cookoff.

    For a short time this holiday season, Santa Claus will not be in a North Pole workshop prepping for his big night. The Christmas icon will instead be beard-deep in a bowl of homemade chili, kicking off the holiday in a way only the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority (DSDA) can.
    The jolly Claus will join hundreds of others Friday visiting downtown Statesboro to take part in the city’s annual Holiday Celebration and, as always, enjoy a delectable clash between the area’s finest chili-makers.
    “This event is our signature grand holiday celebration,” said Allen Muldrew, Executive Director of the DSDA. “The night is loaded with a bunch of events. Santa Claus will be downtown, next to City Hall, and we will again feature what may be our most popular attraction, aside from Santa Claus: Chili Town.”
    Beginning at 5:30 p.m., people may flock downtown to begin taking part in an array of free festivities, Muldrew said.
    The 2011 celebration will feature more than 20 local vendors, an annual lighting of the Christmas tree, a Main Street parade, craft shows, ornament decorations, kids’ activities and photo shoots with the Claus’.
    Festivities will be complemented by the ever-popular chili competition.
    “We have about 25 contestants registered so far,” Muldrew said. “You can just come downtown, get a sample cup, taste and vote on your favorite chili. It is a lot of fun.”
    The night also will include live entertainment throughout.
    Carolers and performers from Georgia Southern University will entertain people on the Bulloch County Courthouse lawn, a variety of events will kickoff at the Averitt Center for the Arts — including the playing of Rudolf the Red-Nose Reindeer — and community actors will perform a portion of A Miracle on 34th Street twice during the night in city hall’s council chambers.
    There will be various prizes awarded for games and contests, and downtown merchants will offer an assortment of holiday gifts.
    “This is our community’s Christmas event,” Muldrew said. “I think it expresses the best of the holiday season when our community comes together to celebrate and have fun like this. The event provides a great time for the family, for people to meet friends and just enjoy the season.”
    The celebration is scheduled to continue until 8 p.m.
    Streets in the immediate area will close at 3 p.m.
    Jeff Harrison can be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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