Milledgeville a pint-sized Christmas powerhouse


For such a small town, Milledgeville goes really big for Christmas.

Take, for example, the Milledgeville Polar Express Trolley Ride. For its first few years of existence, people would line up in front of City Hall and around the block, waiting to get their hands on the coveted tickets. Then, Milledgeville Main Street decided to move the ticket-purchasing process online, which presented a new set of problems – scammers. Basically, the event has grown so popular, with tickets selling out in a matter of hours, that Main Street had to issue a scam warning...

The brainchild of Milledgeville Main Street, the Polar Express event begins with a trolley ride showcasing Christmas lights from around Milledgeville and wraps up at the Convention & Visitors Bureau’s building, which is transformed into the North Pole. Once inside, Santa Claus greets the children and trolley riders. During the trolley tour, a reading of The Polar Express, a popular book adapted into a popular movie, is played over the speakers. It's been happening each December since 2016, with the exception of the covid year...

The Polar Express also partnered with the Baldwin County School District and scooped up schoolchildren for several special daytime tours...

Photos by Eric Jones, the coordinator of school & community relations for the Baldwin County School District.

Then, of course, there's The Nutcracker at Russell Auditorium. The event turned 27 this December, believe it or not. This year's rendition included all-new costumes and some souped-up special effects, including a 24-foot dancing dragon and falling snow. All totaled, more than 200 people were included in the program, with the youngest being the 3- and 4-year-old "Tiny Mice" and the 5- and 6-year-old "Little Angels."

Few holiday sights in middle Georgia are more stunning than the way in which the massive Christmas tree inside of the Old Governor's Mansion rises to the building's rotunda. The mansion played host to several dozen tours this month, including the Candlelight Tour, which "showcased the Sweet Georgia Sound Ladies Acapella Choir, the First Baptist Church of Milledgeville handbell choir and the Milledgeville Singers Guild who are going to be our performing ensembles that evening," according to GCSU.

Newest on the scene is Lockerly in Lights, which was another hot ticket. Roughly 300 tickets were sold for the first Saturday nightwalking tour, which was held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The event continued each Friday and Saturday night through Dec. 23.

Lockerly in Lights made its debut in 2020. The momentum then continued to build, and the 2021 version sported dozens of displays and more than 50,000 lights. Lockerly in Lights then took a pause during the 2022 holiday season, as the arboretum essentially was a construction zone with several construction projects happening, mainly a new front parking lot. With an extra year to think about it, Lockerly leaders decided to mix things up for 2023. Friday, per usual, was still reserved for driving tours, but Saturday nights were for walking tours, with walking tours being a new concept launched this year.

Photos courtesy of Visit Milledgeville

This year's "lead financial sponsor" was Fowler Flemister Concrete, while also on board as financial sponsors are:

Zschimmer & Schwarz, Inc.

Citizens Bank of the South

Exchange Bank

Century Bank and Trust

Sinclair Reserve Realty

LAV Plumbing

Keller Williams Realty, the Kimi Clements Team

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