The first weekend of December will be a busy one for downtown Nashville, with holiday celebrations galore filling the streets.
While some are new, like the Christkindl Market, one of those celebrations will be resuming its tenth year.
The annual Light Parade and Toy Drive will be Saturday, Dec. 4 at 6 p.m.
The Brown County Chamber of Commerce is sponsoring the Light Parade and the Toy Drive this year. The Chamber is also sponsoring a Holiday Business Decorating Contest with cash prizes: $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $100 for third.
About 30 to 40 toys have been donated so far to the drive.
People can donate today by dropping off a new unused toy at the Brown County Visitor’s Center. Weed Patch Music, the Toy Chest, the Clay Purl and Fallen Leaf Books are all official vendors for the parade and will collect anything purchased within their store.
The Light Parade began in 2011, started by local business owner Ted Hayes. He said the event is especially important this year, as it was canceled in 2020.
“Most people just look at Nashville as ‘people come, people go,’ but people live here,” he said. “Real people with real issues.”
Hayes said with inflation costs affecting different areas of life, people are stretched more thin than usual, so the drive is filling “more of a need” this year.
The Chamber has partnered with the Brown County Music Center to offer show tickets in exchange for a new unused toy donation as part of the Bring a Toy, Get a Ticket program. Tickets are for Carrot Top on Nov. 30 or Warrant on Dec. 4.
Kenny G is also set to take center stage at the music center this weekend on Dec. 5. Electronic music impresario, violinist and dancer Lindsey Stirling will extend the holiday festivities to Dec. 6 when she performs at the music center.
A wide range of decorative floats and decorated vehicles from Jeeps to motorcycles will line up for the Light Parade Saturday night. A few floats that will pulled by horses.
Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department Chief Glenn Elmore will lead the parade in a fire truck. There are about 50 floats registered so far.
Brown County Middle School students Skyla Ford, Sylvia Ford, Gavin Gromer and Brittany Ratzburg will carry the Chamber banner at the front of the parade.
A special Christmas guest will also be in attendance that evening: Santa Clause.
After the Light Parade everyone is invited to Coachlight Square and Washington Street where local musician Kara Barnard will lead the community in Christmas caroling. Washington Street will be closed to vehicle traffic at this time.
This is all coordinated with the Christkindl Market which the Chamber is also sponsoring. Anyone interested in being in the Light Parade can sign up at thebrowncountychamber.org.
The first annual Christkindl Market will be open from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 4 in Coachlight Square. The market will include artisan booths decorated for the season, live music, a tree lighting, and Santa and Mrs. Claus. A Christkindl Market Angel will also be on display.
Other holiday events are set for this weekend, too.
Friday, Dec. 3 will be the annual Children’s Christmas Benefit Auction at the Brown County Inn. “Believe: The Magic of Christmas” takes center stage at the Brown County Playhouse that night. The Santa Train will make a stop at the Jackson Township Volunteer Fire Department in Helmsburg.
The next day will be the Stuff a Stocking event in Nashville and the Reindeer Romp 5K and 8K at the Brown County State Park. When the sun goes down Saturday, the Holiday Light Parade and Toy Drive will take off in Nashville with “Believe” having another performance at the Playhouse, too.
The market will serve German gluhwein provided by Country Heritage, which is a mulled spiced wine. German foods also will be served. Other distilleries and a brewery will be represented at the market.
A Santa Shop will be set up in the Brown County Visitors Center for kids to buy presents for their families.
On Friday, Indy Polkamotion will perform polka music to kick off the weekend and a tree lighting will happen later that evening. The next day more music will fill the air as area bands perform, including Brown County’s own the Hammer and the Hatchet.
During a weekend of holiday festivities, it is important for the community to know and learn how to give to those who are less fortunate, Hayes said.
“There’s a lot of hurting people out there. Be generous and remember that there’s people out there in need. God recently blessed us and it’s our responsibility to pass that on,” he said.
Hayes said the reason he started the Light Parade and Toy Drive is because of the kindness he was shown as a child.
“I started this because when I was a kid people gave to us and I never forgot that,” he said. You never know the impact it’s going to have.”