GAINESVILLE, Ga. (Nov. 27, 2023) – It won’t be long before the City of Gainesville transforms into a scene straight out of a Hallmark Christmas movie in preparation for one of the merriest events of the season: Christmas on Green Street.
“Christmas on Green Street caps off Main Street Gainesville’s jam-packed, but wildly successful year of entertainment offerings in the heart of downtown Gainesville,” said Main Street Manager Nicole Parham. “While the Blue Sky and First Friday concert series are extremely popular during the spring and summer months, nothing quite draws a crowd like our holiday-themed events, especially Christmas on Green Street. We always look forward to closing out the event season with thousands of our closest friends who are eager to start their holiday season off right and in the best community around!”
Held the first Sunday of December, Christmas on Green Street is slated for 2-7 p.m. Dec. 3 – but with a twist. To give attendees extended opportunity (and daylight) to explore open houses at historic homes and enjoy various activities, Main Street Gainesville is saving the best for last with the parade stepping off at 5 p.m. Staying true to the 2023 theme, “Making Spirits Bright,” parade entrants have been encouraged to cover their floats in Christmas lights – which we all know are best seen at dark!
“This magical event features the City’s beloved parade of antique cars, holiday floats, marching bands and community groups starting at the Gainesville Civic Center and continuing all the way down Green Street!” Parham said, with participating entries representing local businesses, civic and nonprofit organizations, and educational institutions, among others. “The lighting of Gainesville’s beloved native holly tree will also differ slightly in 2023 as the Rotary Club of Gainesville will lead Santa Claus to the tree and, upon arrival, will rely on his magic to light the tree following a brief countdown. No ceremony will take place before the lighting.”
From 2-6 p.m., attendees will have the opportunity to enjoy the following activities: food trucks, 2-6 p.m. at the Pinnacle Bank building; activities and performances at historic homes on Green Street, 2:30-4:30 p.m.; parade, 5 p.m. starting from the Gainesville Civic Center; and the Lighting of the Rotary Tree, approximately 6:30 p.m. (immediately after the parade) at Green and West Academy streets. Mark your top destinations on this activities map outlining participating Green Street businesses and what they’ll be offering visitors, whether it’s a children’s story time, live performance, cookies and/or hot cocoa. Enhance your overall experience exploring historic Green Street homes by downloading a map of the Historic Green Street Walking Tour.
“Enjoy musical groups performing on front porches, strolling magicians, face painters, balloon artists, storytellers, jugglers, Santa Claus, miniature train rides and more,” Parham said.
Find free and covered parking at any one of the following downtown parking decks, all located within walking distance to the holiday fun: Gainesville North Parking Deck, 100 Brenau Ave. (closest); Hall County Parking Facility, 225 Green St. (second closest); and Main Street Parking Deck, 301 Main St. (third closest). Parking will also be available at Gainesville City Park on Glenwood Drive NE. Please note the Gainesville Civic Center and First Baptist Church Gainesville parking lots will be used as staging zones for the parade – not public parking.
Additionally, please note historic Green Street from Spring Street to Enota Avenue NE will close at 1 p.m. to allow for the event to get underway and for parade floats to line up. Morningside Drive will become a one-way traffic route from Green Street to South Enota Drive NE. For a more in-depth map highlighting road closures, please visit exploregainesville.org. All roads are scheduled to reopen at 7 p.m. following parade clean-up.
For additional details, like helpful links for participating groups, open house etiquette and restroom information, "Like" and follow @DowntownGainesvilleGA on Facebook or visit exploregainesville.org.
The history behind the lighting of the holly tree
In 1934, the Gainesville Garden Club dedicated the park at E.E. Butler Parkway, Green and Academy streets – where the beloved holly tree lives – in memory of Mary John Dunlap Mitchell, a Rotary Club of Gainesville member active in local improvement projects. Today, the Rotary Club maintains this open space for the benefit of the community. The Rotary Club of Gainesville regularly prunes the native holly tree (Ilex opaca) and provides year-round landscape services to this triangular park space. The Rotary Club furnishes the Christmas lights while the City of Gainesville provides the workforce to add and remove the lights each year. The lighting of the holly tree, which heralds the Christmas season, has been a tradition of the Rotary Club of Gainesville since the first lighting in December 1982. As part of the Christmas on Green Street celebration, the Rotary Club will end the parade – just ahead of Santa on the fire truck – and together they will count down the lighting of the tree as they arrive to its location as the grand finale of the parade.