A pair of longstanding holiday traditions will return to downtown Georgetown next week.
Sussex County government will sponsor the 29th annual Caroling on The Circle at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, while the Greater Georgetown of Commerce will host the Christmas Balloon Parade at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Here are five things to know about the upcoming events:
1 Sing, Sing, Sing
Hundreds of county residents are expected to pack The Circle Monday night for the free caroling event.
The historic Sussex County Courthouse will serve as the backdrop for the evening of traditional and Spanish carols led by local singing artists Ed Shockley, Kevin Short and The Reminders. The Georgetown Middle School Choir and the El Centro Cultural group also will be on hand. Santa Claus is even expected to make a visit.
Following the festivities, free cookies and hot chocolate will be available at the Georgetown Fire Company, a block away on South Bedford Street.
In the event of rain or snow, the singing will be moved inside the fire hall.
2 Caroling For A Cause
In addition to raising holiday spirits, Caroling on The Circle doubles as centerpiece of county government’s six-week food drive.
Those who attend Monday’s festivities are asked to bring non-perishable food items to “Pack the POD,” a 14-by-7-foot portable storage shed on The Circle.
The county has been collecting food since Nov. 15 and will continue until the end of December. The items will then be distributed to nearly a dozen area food panties, churches and food banks.
Last year, the county collected more than 29,000 and hopes to match that number again this year.
3 Christmas in Candyland
Dozens of marching bands, civic groups, fire trucks, antique cars and floats will be adorned with a candy motif as they march along Market Street and around the Circle during the annual Georgetown Christmas Balloon Parade on Thursday.
That’s because the theme of this year’s parade is “Christmas in Candyland,” which is intended to reflect the sweetness of the season.
A panel of judges will rate each entrant and hand out awards afterward, including a prize for the participant that best represents this year’s theme.
Santa and Mrs. Claus also are slated to attend.
4 A New Balloon Twist
Balloons have played a major role in the parade since the Greater Georgetown Chamber of Commerce took over planning the event about five years ago.
During the first few years, the event featured a handful of large-scale Macy’s Parade-style inflatables, but the downtown in the economy convinced organizers to instead hand out thousands of helium balloons.
Page 2 of 2 - This year, the free balloons will be larger, but their distribution will be limited to children, according to chamber executive director Karen Duffield.
“In the past, we tried to hand out balloons to everyone, but even with 3,500 balloons, it just wasn’t enough for everyone,” she said. “This year, we thought it would be better if we directed the larger balloons to the children, who tend to enjoy them the most.”
Additional candy-inspired balloons will be featured as decorations along the parade route, she said.
5 It’s Not Too Late to Join the Parade
Anyone wishing to enter their marching band, group, vehicle, horse or float in this year’s parade has until Dec. 3 to submit an application, which can be found on the chamber’s website at www.georgetowncoc.com.
Parade entrants may pass out items, but are barred from throwing candy from floats or other vehicles. Santas other than the real deal are also frowned upon.