Last Updated: Jan 8th, 2015 - 07:42:25

Prince George Gets in the Holiday Spirit
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Dec 3, 2012, 13:35

photo by Caitln Davis Prince George celebrated a festive weekend with breakfast with Santa and the annual holiday parade.

Locals in search of holiday festivities found them in Prince George County on Saturday. The day started with “Breakfast with Santa” at the new Prince George Parks and Recreation headquarters before the annual Prince George Christmas Parade marched down Courthouse Road.

During the third annual “Breakfast with Santa,” children posed for pictures with Santa, decorated ornaments for a Christmas tree and had their faces painted, all over a holiday breakfast. Debbie Lafland, Special Events Coordinator for Prince George Parks and Recreation, said the event was held for the first time in the newly renovated North Elementary facility, which made a world of difference.

“We’re able to decorate this room here and leave it set up,” Lafland said. “It’s such a large room. We’ve never had space like this before.”

The Girl Scouts of Prince George were on hand to help with the event. Jill Magruder, Girl Scout Troop Leader, said the girls enjoy events like the breakfast.

“Anytime we do stuff around the community they love it,” Magruder said.

She said her scouts were having a great time that morning and that she loved seeing all the children with a special Christmas gleam in their eyes.

“The kids get so excited when they make their little Christmas tree ornaments,” Magruder said. “And Santa Claus looking at the kids and the kids looking back at him, they’re amazing.”

Travis and Rachel Lowe and their children Jenna, Ethan and Tyler, got their picture taken with Santa before getting their faces painted.

As she watched her children play, Rachel Lowe said the event had been great.

“I think it’s nice...It’s something for them to do. There’s breakfast, activities and of course, Santa,” Rachel said.

Jasmine Ellis was one of the next children on Santa’s lap. She told Santa that her favorite sport was basketball and her favorite thing to do was skating. And instead of asking for toys for Christmas, Jasmine asked for something a little more special.

“I asked Santa if I can Christmas with my family.”

Her mother, Tiffany Ellis, said she loved to see her daughter at events like the annual breakfast, interacting with other children. She also said sitting on Santa’s lap does not have an age limit.

“She’s 11 years old, but you’re never too old to sit on Santa’s lap,” Tiffany said. “I sat in Santa’s lap last year.”
photo by Caitlin Davis Jasmine Ellis took her time on Santa’s, who enjoys skating and basketball, asked for a Christmas with family.

Lafland said the sprit of many of the county’s holiday events could be seen in the families enjoying the festivities.

“So much of the stuff that we do is geared towards the children,” Lafland said. “The breakfast, the tree lighting, everything.”

Later in the afternoon, at the Prince George Regional Heritage Center, children were making and decorating ornaments for the tree in the courthouse. Carol Bowmen, Executive Director for the Heritage Center, said the fourth annual event was two-fold.

“It’s just a community kind of outreach,” Bowman said. “It gets the kids involved in the center and it’s to support the parade.”

Russell Filipovich brought his twins, Ethan and Ian, to decorate ornaments before heading out the see the parade. He said this was his first year participating in the holiday events scheduled for Saturday.

“I saw this [on the county website] and thought the kids would like the parade, and they would like this,” Filipovich said.

As soon as Ian hung his ornament on the tree, he was ready to head down the stairs and join the crowds lining the streets for the parade.
photo by Caitlin Davis Russell Filipovich and his sons, Ethan and Ian, made ornaments on Saturday.

The floats scattering candy and holiday wishes on their route around around the courthouse complex adhered to this year’s “Candy Canes and Christmas  Carols” theme.

“I really think this year went above and beyond the theme this year,” Lafland said. “They did really, really well. A lot of hard work went into these floats.”

Bill Gandel, a member of the Prince George Board of Supervisors, watched the parade from the yard of the court house. He said each year, the parade gets better than the year before.

“It’s great to be a part of this community with good spirit,” Gandel said.

He said that the weather, which hit an unseasonably warm 63 degrees, made the event more enjoyable and signified good developments ahead for the county.

“The weather is an omen for Prince George that things will turn up and be better for us,” Gandel said.

When asked what his favorite part of the parade had been, he said he was biased.

“I like the dancers, of course...I’m biased for dancers. I am ballroom dancer,” he explained.

Also sitting along the parade route outside the Heritage Center was the judges table. Teresa Knott, clerk to the Board of Supervisors, said she was enjoying her first year as judge, but was feeling the pressure to choose between a number of standouts.

“It’s great,” Knott said. “There have been great performances already.”

In the final analysis, Woodlawn Baptist Church won for best decorated float, while the Appomattox Regional Library took the prize for best decorated public service vehicle. The most spirited and themed float prize was claimed by Steppin Out. The judges choice award went to Gregory Memorial Church and the best overall entry award went to Dance Craze.

Teresa Isom and Jenny Michael and her daughter, Emma, had come from Chester to see the procession of floats, dancers and classic cars. Emma’s favorite part was the horses, bedecked in Christmas gear. Michael, who teaches at South Elementary, was there to support the community and members of her class who appeared in the parade.

Further down the parade route were Grace and Lola Hale, of Prince George. Grace Hale brought her daughter to the parade to get her in the Christmas spirit.
photo by Caitlin Davis The Grinch arrived at the Prince George parade on horseback, but was unable to crush the holiday spirit in the air.

“It’s pretty good,” Grace said. “It’s longer than it normally is. It is very put together and very creative. Plus my daughter is going to be coming home with a lot of candy, so I can’t complain about that.”

Although Lola waved at every passing participant, her biggest wave and shout was saved for Santa, who arrived on a float after a morning of taking Christmas wishes from children over breakfast.

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