By Lora Scripps
Ready or not, it’s here — the most wonderful time of the year.
From the annual Reliance Bank Christmas parade to Sippin’ Cider on The Square, Limestone County is coming alive with the sights, sounds and smells of the season.
Residents and visitors alike have a number of holiday activities to choose from:
• Third Annual Holiday Tour of Homes
Sunday from 1-5 p.m.
Self-guided tour will feature five beautifully-decorated Athens homes. Each home will feature sweet treats created and provided by local caterers. Advance tickets are $15 and can be purchased at SheaLeigh’s, Pam's Home Furnishings, First National Bank — U.S. 72, Smith Infinity-Huntsville, Class Act Hair & Nail Salon, Crawford’s, Pablo's, Trinity's, the KALB office, or from any Athens Ladies Civitan members. Tickets will be available the day of the tour for $20 at any of the featured homes. This event supports Athens Ladies Civitans outreach to adults and children with developmental disabilities. Additional information at 256-233-0258.
• Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Christmas Tree Lighting
Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 5 p.m. at the park.
Local children referred from the Boys & Girls Club will receive toys from Santa and Mrs. Claus. A few bicycles will be given away. Snacks served. Children must have been referred to receive toys or be in the bicycle drawing. Sponsored by the Lincoln-Bridgeforth Park Committee.
• Reliance Bank Christmas Parade
Thursday, Dec. 5, at 6 p.m.
It’s holiday tailgating in Athens. Folks start parking early in the day to claim their favorite spot. Up to 8,000 spectators attend. This year’s theme is “A Storybook Christmas.” Includes floats, high school bands, horses, and of course, Santa. One of the highlights is who wins the grand prize float award, which traditionally has gone to Friends in Ripley (eight wins), a group created to honor the memory of Ripley farmer Ed Black. The route starts at Athens High, goes west on Hobbs Street, around The Square, south on Jefferson Street and ends at Hometown Grocery.
• Farmers Market Renovation Ribbon Cutting and Athens Saturday Market
Saturday, Dec. 7
The market area will open at 2 p.m. so citizens can see improvements made with the $20,000 Lowe’s/Keep America Beautiful grant. Those who volunteered to do the work will explain the improvements. There will be a ribbon cutting at 2:30 p.m. The Athens Saturday Market Committee will then host a special day at the market from 3-7 p.m. with vendors, crafts, etc.
• Athens State University Community Band Christmas Concert
Sunday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m. at Carter Gymnasium
Get in the Christmas spirit by enjoying holiday tunes performed for free. The Community Band is directed by Dan Havely.
• Athens State University Community Chorus Holiday Concert
Thursday, Dec. 12, at 7:30 p.m. in the ballroom
Tickets are $5. Buy tickets online at athens.edu/CLL or go to the Center for Lifelong Learning at 121 S. Marion St. on The Square.
• Sippin’ Cider
Saturday, Dec. 14, from 5-8 p.m. on The Square.
Parents can do some holiday shopping on The Square and enjoy a night of fun with the family. Activities include roasting marshmallows, a mini-art camp offered by Athens Arts League, decorating gingerbread men and other crafts. Get a ballot at any participating business and vote on each merchant’s cider to determine who wins the Sippin’ Cider Cup. Events are free and sponsored by the Spirit of Athens.