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Auburn welcomes the holidays early

If You Go

What: Sounding off the Christmas Season

When: 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: Downtown Auburn, 1369 Fourth Ave., Auburn

Cost: Free

For more information: Visit www.cityofauburn-...

AUBURN -- In a matter of hours, the city of Auburn will be getting ready for the holiday season with its annual "Sounding off the Christmas Season" on Saturday.

"It's named 'sounding off' because we'd love to do it after Thanksgiving, but it's Black Friday," Rafael Avalos said, parks and leisure director of the city of Auburn. "Usually about 2 to 3,000 people show up mainly because of Santa. He comes in his sleigh pulled by real reindeer and parks in front of a 20-foot Christmas tree that is lit up. It's a great backdrop for pictures."

At the event, there will be food, caroling, craft vendors and the ceremonial lighting of downtown Auburn. One of the most popular activities is the nativity scene.

"We have a live nativity scene that's kind of interactive," Avalos said. "Joseph and Mary are walking around the crowd and Joseph is asking if they can lend them a room for his pregnant wife. From there Santa comes in, kneels before baby Jesus and says a prayer with over him."

There are two drives this year: toys and pajamas.

"The toy drive is done every year by the Auburn Police Department," Avalos said. "They always see the worst of the neighborhood. They know which families are truly doing bad throughout the year. So they pretty much set this up, find a few select families to bring food and toys to."

Attendees are asked to bring a new unwrapped toy to donate. Then, there are the pajamas.

"Pajama drive is the Mayor's Motorcade," Avalos said. "Instead of collecting a bunch of different things, the mayor decided to pick one: pajamas, mainly fitted for adults."

People can also bring new pajamas to donate on Saturday.

"The staff at regional hospitals tell us that without the Mayor's Christmas Motorcade, many patients would go without any type of gift or recognition over the holidays," Auburn Mayor Linda Blechinger said.

The pajama collection has already begun and will continue through Dec. 4, when the donations will be delivered to Georgia Regional Hospital in Atlanta.

Children can also benefit the Auburn Library by crafting for $1 and make a piece of artwork for the season.