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Chamber of Commerce names Walter Jardine as parade grand marshal

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Walter Jardine has been selected as the grand marshal of the 2023 Christmas parade. Submitted photo Walter Jardine has been selected as the grand marshal of the 2023 Christmas parade.

The Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce Walter Jardine is the 2023 Grand Marshal for the 59th Annual Festival of Lights Christmas Parade. Come wave and enjoy the sights and sounds of the holidays as Jardine and all the participants ride down Peterson Avenue on Saturday, December 2 beginning at 6pm. “Christmas in a Small Town”, this year’s theme, comes from Christian Wise, daughter of Chandler Wise and Abby Sweat of West Green. The theme and grand marshal are chosen by the Chamber Board of Directors.



Jardine has been a teacher/coach, journalist, and photographer in Coffee County dating back to the 1970s. He taught school for 32 years and worked at the Douglas Enterprise as a photographer and sometimes-sportswriter even longer. For decades, Jardine tirelessly covered every local sporting event he could -- from the youngest recreation department leagues all the way up to NFL and Major League Baseball games. He was a fixture on the University of Georgia and Jacksonville Jaguars' sidelines and, before the NFL awarded Jacksonville the Jaguars, the Atlanta Falcons' sidelines as well. It was not uncommon for Jardine to cover youth sports each day of the week then photograph Coffee High football on Friday, the Georgia Bulldogs on Saturday, and the Falcons or Jaguars on Sunday. If you or your child played sports locally in the last 45 or so years, there's a pretty good chance that Jardine took your or your child's photo at some point. He also made time for the Atkinson County Rebels and the South Georgia State College Tigers/Hawks. The amount of photographs he has taken in his career numbers in the millions and he is a walking history book of local sports. The contributions he has made to the youth of Coffee County and the athletic departments of the Coffee County School System, Citizens Christian Academy, and South Georgia State College cannot be overstated. His ever-present beard, long hair, and cameras are as much a part of a Coffee High School football game as the band, cheerleaders, and officials. Jardine also spent many years playing Santa Claus during Christmas whenever he was asked, including serving as Santa for the annual Jacksonville Jaguars' Christmas celebration at EverBank Stadium. Walter Jardine is truly one of a kind who will never, ever be replaced.



The holiday festivities begin Saturday morning with CHS' Santa's North Pole. FCCLA students will be in Atkinson Plaza with fun arts, crafts and activities for the kids, plus Santa and lots of his friends will be there for pictures by the giant Christmas tree from 8am – 1pm. All of the downtown shops and restaurants will be open for all your Christmas needs. Then the magic begins at 6pm when the parade lights up Peterson Avenue and makes its way from the Chamber of Commerce building to South Georgia State College. Registration for the Christmas parade will continue through November 27. Registration forms and rules can be found on the Visit Douglas-Coffee County GA Facebook page or picked up at the Douglas-Coffee County Chamber of Commerce located at 114 N. Peterson Avenue. For more information about or for an application for the Festival of Lights Christmas Parade, please call (912) 384-1873 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



And don’t miss the Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony Friday, December 1 at Atkinson Plaza. Mayor Tony Paulk will be there to light the giant tree and CCA Elementary Choir and CHS Chorus will be singing Christmas carols beginning at 5:30. There will be sweets and hot drinks available for purchase from Project Search Pop Up Coffee Shop. Santa and his elves will also be there for pictures and facepainting. Then explore the downtown shops as they stay open late and showcase their Christmas window displays and enjoy the John Glosson Christmas concert at the Martin Centre Theater. The Christmas tree lighting ceremony is a delightful holiday event that brings together the community to celebrate the festive season.



For more information about all the Christmas in Coffee activities, please call (912)384-1873 or email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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