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Thousands flock annually to the Christmas on the Square festival.

LIVE OAK — Tis the season to be jolly — and to descend on downtown Live Oak.

Starting Thursday night and carrying through Saturday, the 35th annual Christmas on the Square returns and will be bringing thousands of its closest friends with it.

The annual arts and crafts festival grew a year ago into a three-day event and the expanded event was a hit.

So Live Oak Mayor Frank Davis will start the festivities Thursday at 5:45 p.m. when he lights the Christmas tree — a living tree this year which was donated by Franklin White and Shade Tree Nursery — in Millennium Park.

The Jingle Bell Fun Run — both a 1-mile run for children, ages 5-12, and the 5K for runners 13 and older — follows the tree lighting as does movies in the park. From the time the runners take off at 6 p.m., the movies will begin playing for those not racing. This year’s selections are “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Frosty the Snowman.”

The festival then picks up Friday when vendor booths open at 4 p.m., followed by Snow on the Square and fireworks as well as games and bounce houses. The Mainstream Band, the Trey Tucker Band and Godiva are all scheduled to perform on the Millennium Park stage Friday night as well.

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A child races down one of the slides during Snow on the Square at last year’s Christmas on the Square.

More than 30 tons of snow will be dropped on downtown Live Oak for the night with slides opening around 5 p.m. The fireworks display is set for 9 p.m. with the vendor booths closing at 10 p.m.

Coca-Cola is planning to deliver a special surprise to the Friday night festivities as well.

With the festival expanding to Friday afternoon, streets will be closed starting at 6 a.m. Friday through 9 p.m. Saturday.

With the street closures and vendors setting up in the area, there will also be parking changes for the Suwannee County offices, which will remain open. Parking will be available for customers of the Tax Collector’s office and the courthouse at the Judicial Annex on Parshley Street, with handicap parking for courthouse accessible from Ohio Ave. immediately south of the courthouse.

The festival, which also will once again include Santa Land, live entertainment, a car show and ag exhibit, will last throughout Saturday, concluding with the lighted Christmas parade at 6 p.m.

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