Valdosta Daily Times

December 9, 2012

Christmas Festival draws crowd to Hahira

Jason Schaefer
The Valdosta Daily Times

HAHIRA — The parade lasted only about 25 minutes, but the festivities filled the morning and afternoon Saturday during the Hahira Christmas Festival Saturday, getting residents north of Valdosta in the holiday spirit.

One of the key attractions during the event was an ice sculptor from Athens, Ga. who carved Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer out of a 300-pound block of clear ice, showering the audience of children with “snow” in the process.

Using a chainsaw, a drill and other electric tools, Glen Hughes carved a pre-drawn pattern into the ice and began chipping away, chopping heavy chunks of ice off with the saw and grinding out details with smaller tools, all the while sending a cloud of ice shavings up in the air to fall in the hair of onlookers close to the stage.

Hughes called up Hahira resident Tom Patterson to use an ice pick to break up one of the larger chunks of ice cut away from the block, so the excited children could get a piece of the action.

Other attractions included more than a dozen booths with local and out-of-town crafts makers, a bouncy house, a bungee trampoline and pony rides for the children, a horse-drawn carriage and festival food.

The event drew a crowd of several hundred from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which lined up along the streets to watch the parade roll by from noon to about 12:25 p.m. The parade included representatives from the fire department, the post office, taxis, Cass Burch, Smok’n Pig BBQ, and the Lowndes High School Bridgemen.

“It’s bigger this year,” said Downtown Development Coordinator Stacey Dershimer. “It seems to get bigger every year.”

The event helps “get the community out and about, and lets them know what’s going on in town,” Dershimer said. Downtown Development attempts to host about four public events in the downtown area each year—one for every season.

“Halloween’s a big one, and we do the Easter egg hunt in the spring,” Dershimer said. “For the Christmas Festival, we try to do something new every year.”

Hughes and his ice sculpture was one such new attraction. Dershimer looked up area ice sculptors and found K&Z Ice Carving online. When she reached out, they were happy to make the 230-mile trip.

“People like this are why I like coming out to festivals,” Hughes said of the audience.