North Pole Stroll

An amazed toddler gazes on Santa's face Saturday at the North Pole Stroll at Big Spring Memorial Park in Athens. More than 300 children came to visit with St. Nick, according to Teresa Todd, director of the Athens-Limestone Visitors Center. The line to see Santa, who also read “'Twas the Night Before Christmas,” wrapped around the building. Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful provided hot chocolate.

Businesses and organizations can get into the Christmas spirit early by sponsoring a tree in Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association's biggest fundraiser of the year.

The annual North Pole Stroll is in its fifth year, and Teresa Todd, president of the tourism association, said they want this year to be bigger than ever. Last year, 55 groups came forward to sponsor and decorate.

"I would love to have 75 this year," Todd said. "We've grown each year, and that's the way I like to do it, in small stages."

Businesses, organizations and individuals can sponsor a tree for $100. They can then choose to decorate the tree themselves or allow their names to be displayed on a marker near a tree that another group has decorated.

"We have several people who are part of nonprofits who don't really have the funds to do both (decorating and sponsoring)," Todd said.

Each tree will be displayed from Dec. 2–27 in Big Spring Park in Athens. Todd encouraged sponsors to contact the tourism association by Nov. 4 to make sure the right number of trees are provided.

She also encouraged decorators to keep in mind the weather won't pause for North Pole Stroll, so decorations should be water-resistant and attached securely using zip ties, pipe cleaners or other materials.

"We had one tree that was decorated with beautiful decorative ornaments, but they weren't water-resistant, so they kind of melted on the tree," Todd said.

She praised sponsors for their generosity and support of the association.

"Over the last few years, it has become one of our sources of existence here," Todd said. "We really appreciate the sponsors who come out. They're very generous, and we are so fortunate for that."

Visit for a full list of rules, sponsorship forms and other information.

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