Sweetness & lights; Georgetown Christmas Stroll promises a wholesome getaway from big-city bustle

  BYLINE: David Vance
  DATE: 12-02-1999
  PUBLICATION: The Austin American-Statesman

  It's a wonderful life. That's a sentiment our cinematic friend George Bailey learned
  through much tribulation and his friendly guardian angel. It's a sentiment the holiday
  season easily tea-ches. And it's a sentiment small towns such as Georgetown, just 20
  minutes north of Austin, seem to know by heart. Witness this Williamson County
  hamlet's 20th Annual ``It's a Wonderful Life'' Christmas Stroll on Saturday around the
  downtown courthouse square. As a family getaway from big-city bustle, this evening of
  wholesome entertainment offers a warm glimpse of community on a potentially cold
  night. (OK, probably not so cold. It is Texas after all.) Though growing fast, Georgetown
  still remains Mayberry-esque in feel and strives to keep that small-town character by
  coming together with friends old and new. The stroll itself gets rolling at 3 p.m., just in
  time for the holiday shopping season. Shops on the square will be open , and vendors
  will line sidewalks selling their wares. Gift ideas include handmade arts and crafts,
  holiday decorations and homemade jewelry. Food appropriate to the occasion will also
  be available, with hot chocolate, apple cider and roasted chestnuts thawing and
  warming even the most frozen Scrooge or icy Grinch. L ocal church choirs full of
  costumed carolers will leaven the evening with lilting songs from the courthouse steps.
  To further enhance the olde-tyme feel, free carriage rides promise to take their riders
  back to a bygone era of a more romantic and leisurely life. For the children, a free
  barrel train ride offers to choo-choo chug the tots up, down and around the square to
  their own time and pace. The main ornament decorating the evening, though, is the
  45-minute to hourlong holiday parade around the square at 5:30 p.m. Marching to the
  mistletoe beat will be local organizations, festive floats and anyone who wants to tag
  along. The parade is open to everyone wanting and willing to take a stroll: One year
  saw more than 700 strollers parading around the square. Also, as part of the evening's
  community spirit, donations of toys and gifts for the Blue and Brown Santa programs
  (absent Deputy Barney Fife) will be accepted during the parade. After the parade
  though, the sun should have set, dark will have descended and the wonderfully old and
  Christmas-lighted courthouse will provide a spark to the spirit and all the light revelers
  need. If you've driven Interstate 35 through Georgetown this week or previous holidays,
  you've seen the magnificent courthouse square aglow in the east , shining like the star
  for the three wise men. Let it be your shining guide too, leading you to where the little
  town lies. Providing the heat for the evening, two stages set up around the square will
  hum with hometown entertainment until 9 p.m. Among those participating will be local
  school choirs, dancers and various musicians. One famous visitor who's no stranger to
  anyone should fly in for the occasion and feel right at home in the festive, hopefully
  wintery small town atmosphere. No, not Jimmy Stewart or Andy Griffith. It's the jolly red
  and white one from the North Pole. Participating in the parade with the Missus, Santa
  will also be available for picture-taking and present-requesting afterwards. Naughty or
  nice, young and old, he'll certainly welcome all comers, so don't even think twice. Now
  the holiday message should be as clear as a jingling bell announcing that an angel
  received its wings. Come and share the hometown happiness and season's spirit that
  George Bailey and Georgetown know so well. Don't be shy, I've told you why: It's a
  wonderful life indeed.