‘Pretty magical” as downtown Macon celebrates the holidays


Liz Fabian

Travis Jean Emporium owner Scott Mitchell looks at his decorated window on Cherry Street as downtown prepares for the holidays.

As shoppers prepare for the biggest season of the year, downtown Macon entrepreneurs want to be on their lists.

Santa, reindeer, elves and the Grinch already have committed to visit as business owners pool resources to come up with creative ways to lure folks into stores and restaurants.

Emily Hopkins, of NewTown Macon, gave shopkeepers a pep talk during a recent Downtown Macon Community Association meeting.

“Be prepared to be incredible ambassadors to the thousands of visitors coming downtown to see the (Main Street) Christmas Light Extravaganza,” Hopkins said.

The third annual light show across four city blocks kicks off Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. with the free Macon Pops concert at Poplar and First streets.

Also beginning that night, the Holly Jolly Trolley Tour of Macon’s best holiday displays leaves from The Rookery at 543 Cherry St. each Thursday, Friday and Saturday until December 28.  Tours are scheduled at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. and end at the downtown light display. Tickets cost $10 for adults and $5 for children 12 and under.

The Extravaganza’s half-million lights will not be the only attraction drawing people downtown this year.

The Macon Arts Alliance at 486 First St. will open on Black Friday for the first time.

“We’re breaking with tradition,” executive director Julie Wilkerson jubilantly told board members.

She announced the gallery and its gift shop will be open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Nov. 29 and host a reception with Macon Magazine from 4-6 p.m. as crowds gather for the Macon Pops concert. The following week, the gallery holds a Handmade Holiday Reception during First Friday, Dec. 6 from 5-8 p.m.

The downtown business owners are also encouraged to feature specials for “Shop Small Saturday” on Nov. 30 when the Grinch will be posing for pictures at the Golden Bough Bookstore from 1-3 p.m. The tall green one from “Whoville” will be back at the bookstore at 371 Cotton Ave. on Dec. 7 and 14 at the same time.

“Whenever we partner together it tends to draw more people downtown,” said Kaitlynn Kressin, co-chair of the Downtown Macon Community Association.

Santa will arrive during the annual Christmas parade which winds through downtown beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 1. The Jolly Old Elf also will be back for selfies at Poplar and Third streets each Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 6-10 p.m. between Dec. 6 and Dec. 22. Santa will only have his live reindeer with him on Dec. 21.

Carriage rides around the lights also will be available for a fee during those three weekends in December.

Bibb County school children will sing in the season Thursday, Dec. 5 as they light the Community Tree in front of the Macon City Auditorium at 415 First Street.

Businesses are decorating windows to compete in the Metro Power Storefront Contest for a grand prize of $1,200, $800 honorable mention and $500 for the crowd favorite.

Liz Fabian
Downtown Macon stores will be competing in a holiday window contest sponsored by Metro Power.

Shoppers are invited to decorate themselves Dec. 7 for the “Downtown Tacky Christmas Crawl” from 6 p.m. until midnight.

“We just invite people to come downtown in their tacky Christmas sweaters and shop and take advantage of specials… and holiday drinks,” Kressin said.

You can snap “Selfies with Elfies” all day Dec. 7 at the Travis Jean Emporium at 522 Cherry Street. Travis Jean is open every Sunday through Dec. 22 from 12:30 – 2 p.m. for “Simply Holidays” featuring the works of local artists.

NewTown Macon will be handing out free S’mores with the donation of new or lightly used winter clothing for the “Scarves for S’mores” First Friday event from 5:30-7:30 p.m. on Dec. 6.

The Georgia Sports Hall of Fame’s “Hall-iday Hangout” offers free admission to the museum,  music, cookies and cocoa, children’s crafts and Christmas movies in the theatre Sundays from 4 – 7 p.m. on Dec. 8, 15 and 22. The hall will show “Polar Express” on Friday, Dec. 20, at 6 p.m. and give train rides on the lawn for the children.

If all these events tire you out, Ocmulgee Brewpub at 484 Second St. is throwing a “Christmas Pajama Dinner” on Monday, Dec. 9 where those wearing PJs will get a free kids’ meal with the purchase of an adult entrée.

Work off your holiday treats with Bike Walk Macon’s “Holiday Hustle” Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. Meet at the office at 338 Poplar Street and bike through downtown in your ugly Christmas sweater and enjoy Z Beans coffee and hot chocolate.

No matter what the temperature will be on Saturday, Dec. 14, it will be snowing at Rosa Parks Square for “Christmas in Downtown,” which boasts Middle Georgia’s largest free family Christmas festival and Holiday Market from 2-6 p.m.

“Everybody is doing amazing things for the holidays,” Hopkins said. “It’s pretty magical what’s happening in downtown Macon in December.”

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at [email protected] and 478-301-2976.

Liz Fabian
Downtown Macon businesses hope to capitalize on the thousands of visitors expected for the Main Street Christmas Light Extravaganza debuting Nov. 29.