Christmas in the Heart of Charleston

The annual Christmas in the Heart of Charleston celebration returns to the courthouse square Saturday. The event is scheduled to kick off with a parade at 4:45 p.m. and continue until 6:30 p.m.

CHARLESTON — Musical performances will mix with an appearance by a reindeer, chances to visit Santa Claus and more holiday activities at the annual Christmas in the Heart of Charleston event on Saturday.

Charleston's courthouse square will again be the site of the festivities that are set to kick off with a parade around the courthouse square at 4:45 p.m. About two dozen entries, the same as last year, are expected.

The grand marshals for the parade will be Dale and Debby Wolf, who are being recognized for their contributions to community and local volunteer efforts, Charleston Tourism Office Director Diane Ratliff said.

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Street closings in conjunction with the event are scheduled for 2-8 p.m. Saturday.

The streets that will be closed are Sixth and Seventh streets and Madison and Jackson avenues around the square and one additional block in each direction.

Those who attend the event will be able to visit most of the square's stores, some of which weren't open during last year's celebration, Ratliff said.

She said musical groups will make use of various locations while there will also be carolers and other performances strolling the square area throughout the festival, set to last until 6:30 p.m.

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The Charleston Moose Lodge at 615 Seventh St. will be the site of a variety of Charleston school student musical groups while a saxophone ensemble and vocalist Darcy Johnson will perform in the Coles County Courthouse.

Ongoing activities will include the reindeer on Monroe Avenue near Sixth Street, Santa seeing visitors and carriage rides at City Hall at 520 Jackson Ave. and tours of the tunnel that goes from the courthouse to the county jail.

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Outdoor features will also include a vendor for roasted chestnuts and costumed characters mingling with visitors.

Entries in the annual gingerbread decorating contest will be displayed in the window of Ealy's Appraisals, 700 Jackson Ave.

Entries will include gingerbread houses made during a workshop scheduled for 1-3 p.m. Saturday at the Diepholz automotive dealership, 631 W. Lincoln Ave.

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Dave Fopay is a reporter for the JG-TC who covers Coles County, the local court system, Charleston schools and more.

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