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Hattiesburg kicks off the Christmas season with bright lights, loud music and Santa Claus at 6 p.m. Thursday, beginning with the Parade + Tree Lighting Event at Town Square Park.

Hattiesburg kicks off the Christmas season with bright lights, loud music and Santa Claus at 6 p.m. Thursday, beginning with the Parade + Tree Lighting Event at Town Square Park.

Mayor Toby Barker said this year’s event will be special.

“The holiday season in Hattiesburg is always meaningful to so many folks,” he said. “This is the third year we have done Christmas lighting; each year, it gets bigger and better. It’s one of the only times in South Mississippi that you’ll see snow.”

The Hattiesburg Jaycees Annual Christmas Parade is one of the night’s highlights.

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The parade will begin at 6 p.m. at Hawkins Elementary and wrap up at Town Square Park, where the program for the tree lighting will begin at 7:25 p.m.

“The parade itself that the Jaycees put on is such a historic tradition, and they do such a good job with it,” Barker said. “Follow that up with the Christmas tree lighting, which turns all of our downtown lights on at one time. We are expanding those this year, so we are really trying to make it a festive time of year.”

The parade will begin at 6 p.m. at Hawkins Elementary and wrap up at Town Square Park, where the program for the tree lighting will begin at 7:25 p.m.

Additional activities include photo opportunities with Santa and Mrs. Claus in Santa’s Village, smART Space art horses, as well as food and beverage vendors. To conclude the night, several downtown Hattiesburg businesses will be open.

Below is a quick look at the agenda for the night.

• 5:30 p.m. - Santa's Village (gazebo at Town Square Park) opens for photo opportunities

• 6 p.m. – Annual Jaycees Christmas Parade, begins at Hawkins Elementary and will finish at Town Square Park

• 7 p.m. – Music program at Town Square Park begins

• 7:25 p.m. – Tree Lighting by Mayor Barker and Mrs. Kate Barker at Town Square Park

• 7:35 p.m. – Art Makes Art, Inc. Performance (Creators of Hattiesburlesque) at Town Square Park

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