-- — THUMBS UP: To Valdosta Police Chief Frank Simons. This week, after more than 17 years as the city’s top law-enforcement officer, Simons announced he will retire at year’s end. There will likely be several tributes and honors for the police chief in the coming weeks. As he promised taking the job in 1995, Simons moved the Valdosta police force to national accreditation and has kept it there. The City of Valdosta is a better place for Simons having taken the job, and we wish him well on all of his future endeavors.
THUMBS UP: To the Valdosta State University Planetarium for its annual “Star of Bethlehem” show. The show tells the astrological story of what may have been the phenomenon that led the Magi to the manger. VSU presented three showtimes Friday night for this stellar production. It’s been a Christmas tradition for nearly 30 years and we salute it.
THUMBS UP: To Linda Chase and Dance Arts. Speaking of Christmas traditions, this weekend marks the 40th anniversary of Dance Arts’ “The Nutcracker.” In 1972, Linda Chase brought her original choreography to this holiday classic, opening at Mathis City Auditorium. With one December exception, Chase has directed her “Nutcracker” every holiday season since. For the third year, the Valdosta Symphony Orchestra has partnered with Dance Arts, presenting Tchaikovsky’s familiar music live. “The Nutcracker” plays throughout the weekend.
THUMBS UP: Since we’re honoring Christmastime traditions, we must say a special thanks to Ricky Plair, who will help Santa Claus again this evening during the annual Valdosta Christmas parade. For decades, Plair has donned the famous red suit to wave at generations of children along the parade route. Add a thumbs up wave back from us and a salute as well, Santa Ricky!