Mayor Tommy Allegood said the events will boost the city’s sense of community.
“With all our growth, I’ve always said we’re going to protect that Mayberry feeling,” he said about a population that increased from 9,000 to more than 20,000 residents during his 12 years in the top slot. “The Christmas celebration has been a really important tradition to be able to have that hometown feeling.”
It’s a hometown that aims to have something for everyone and so is branching out this year.
“We’ve always been a city that has celebrated diversity,” Allegood said. “It’s part of the quality of life.”
Hanukkah begins at sundown Dec. 8, and the menorah lighting will take place next week on a date yet to be announced.
However, a holiday celebrity is booked for Dec. 7 at 6:30 p.m.
“We have Santa coming to town. We have a tradition where he comes to town on the first Friday of December,” Allegood said. “Last year he arrived in a red convertible. Sometimes he arrives on a fire truck. One year, he was on a sleigh.”
Last year’s inaugural Victorian-era style sing-along was such “a big hit last year,” the Acworth Downtown Development Authority and Historic Downtown Acworth Merchant Group will repeat the event, Allegood said.
“We call it a ‘Dickens of a Christmas, Y’all,’” he said about the event, which will take place Dec. 14 at 6:30 p.m. “People dress up and they come and sing Christmas carols.”
The event starts at the Old Depot on Main Street and meanders through the historic district, led by North Cobb Christian School students in 1800s costumes.
The holiday momentum continues Dec. 15 from noon to 5 p.m. with more Santa photo opportunities at Frana Brown Park, strolling musicians, carriage rides, a living tableaux of scenes from Charles Dickens’ era and a living nativity at the Acworth Presbyterian Church.
Holiday needs of parishioners may be on the minds of the leaders of the city’s 30 congregations, who will meet Dec. 5 at 8:30 a.m. at City Hall during a semiannual symposium.
“We have our pastors’ meeting next week,” Allegood said. “Everyone shares the different types of programs and resources. There’s this big sharing of resources and volunteers.”
Faith-based communities are driving upcoming redevelopments, one by Freedom Church on Highway 41 and another by an unidentified church at 5300 Glade Road on the site of a former Kmart at the city’s gateway.
“One of our churches, which needs to remain anonymous, is very interested in opening up a community center,” Allegood said. “They’re thinking about how to create a large community center where you have different nonprofits doing work inside.”
Also next week, the Cobb Community Foundation, of which Allegood is the executive director, will present the 2012 James L. Rhoden Jr. Visionary Philanthropist Award during the Cobb Chamber of Commerce’s First Monday Breakfast at Cobb Galleria.
Looking ahead to the new year, the Acworth Police Department will hold the quarterly Georgia Teens Ride with PRIDE — Parents Reducing Incidents of Driver Error — program Jan. 16 at 6:30 p.m.
The program, offered by Acworth through the University of Georgia’s Georgia Traffic Injury Prevention Institute for nearly 10 years, is free.
Police Chief Wayne Dennard said the program helps families learn the goals of the 20 to 40 hours of supervised practice driving time required for a teen’s Class D license.
“It’s a great program. It goes over all the laws,” he said. “It talks about the curfews and all of the training and logging hours they have to do. It’s a great little class. It’s really worked out well for us.”
Parents and teens learn some of the material together, then split up for parent-only and teen-only sessions.
“It’s not a hands-on driving class, but it’s enlightening to the parents,” as well as the teens, Dennard said.
Long-term goals for the city include a downtown redevelopment project, including more senior housing following the success of a Walton Properties community that opened in August.
Allegood said the city is “just beginning” to work with the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department.
“We’re about two years away,” he said.