This Week's Poll


Christmas on the Square rained our Saturday

Everyone enjoyed the snow, Friday, at Christmas on the Square, before the Saturday rains.
-Photo Courtesy of Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce

By Tami Stevenson

The 34th Annual Christmas on the Square was rained out Saturday as a major storm hit the area.

Instead of the 20,000 or so shoppers the event usually attracts, the streets were filled with vendor vehicles parked next to their respective booths as owners rushed to pack up their wares, covering them with sheets, blankets and tarps just long enough to get them to their vehicles, Saturday, around 11 a.m. The Suwannee Valley Times caught two lonely shoppers carrying bags clutching their umbrellas as the rain beat down relentlessly, Saturday morning. Martha Tucker and Betty Carver said they braved the weather to get some cakes from Cakes by Pat and some fruitcakes from the Live Oak Church of God booths.

Saturday’s deluge caused the event to be cut short. Instead of shoppers, the streets were filled with vendor vehicles as everyone rushed to pack up. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Martha Tucker, left, and Betty Carver said they braved the weather to get some cakes from Cakes by Pat and some fruitcakes from the Live Oak Church of God booths. -SVT Photo by Tami Stevenson

Sharon Hingson, Suwannee County Emergency Management Assistant Director and EM Specialist Robin Peiffer were shuttling vendors and the few shoppers they came across in covered gulf carts, Saturday. CERT volunteers Bill Preen of Live Oak and Ron Haines of McAlpin, dressed in rain gear, directed traffic to let vendors in to pack up their booths. Hingson said the mood of the vendors and shoppers was still a positive one.

“Of course they are disappointed but they are still positive. They appreciate everyone pitching in to help,” she said. They had all been volunteering since Thursday, taking shifts.

Although Saturday was a bust, Thursday and Friday were a huge success. Opening the vendor booths on Friday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. was a first for the event. Many vendors reported they had a very good night Friday, which helped to cushion the blow of Saturday’s rain out.

The Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce hosts the event each year. Chamber Executive Director Jimmy Norris said Thursday night they had a great turnout for the run/walk event. Afterwards they showed a couple of movies. Polar Express was the community choice from the number of votes it received on their website prior to the event so they played that movie and Frosty the Snowman. With Friday being the first time they had vendors all set up and open for business, no one knew what kind of turnout they would receive.

“It was outstanding,” said Norris. “The shoppers came out. We were tickled pink with the turnout Friday night.” They had more snow brought in this year than in previous years for the kids and an extra slide so the lines were not as long.

Norris commented about Saturday, “We’ve been blessed over the years, we’ve had a little rain here and there but never to this extent. Being the 34th annual event I think we’ve been pretty lucky,”

They also decided, as it became evident lightening and more rain was headed their way, to reschedule the lighted Christmas Parade for December 15 at 6 p.m.

Christmas on the Square, this year, had around 250 vendor booths along with the many other activities planned. Norris expressed his gratitude to the more than 100 volunteers that came together from the community and local organizations to help make the event a success.

“I just want everyone to realize this thing takes a year to plan and would not be possible without everyone in the community. The larger it becomes, it is vital to the success of the event that we have the community involved,” Norris stated. “I’m so proud that they came together and they did it with a smile on their face. We didn’t hear people grumbling. They came to us and asked how they could help. That makes a huge difference.” He added, “It makes me proud to be a Suwannee County resident with such great people.”

They are already beginning the planning stages for next year’s Christmas on the Square and have a couple new ideas on the table. Norris said so far, they plan to make it a three day event again next year as well. He also wanted to invite everyone out on December 15 at 6 p.m. for the lighted Christmas parade.

The Jingle Bell Fun Run / Walk & Christmas Movie on Thursday had a great turnout.
-Photo Courtesy of Suwannee County Chamber of Commerce