Returning soon to Green Street, this Christmas tradition celebrates Gainesville’s 20-year history

November 22—Everyday, Green Street remains a busy thoroughfare flanked by Victorian and neoclassical architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries.

But on the first Sunday in December, dressed in holiday grandeur, the half-mile corridor becomes a passageway to Gainesville’s past.

Christmas on the green street

When: 4-7 p.m. December 4

Where: Historic Green Street, Gainesville

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Since 2002, Christmas on Green Street has drawn crowds in the thousands to celebrate the holiday season with a parade and tours of historic homes, which claim a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

The tradition was invented by the Gainesville Historical Society, which held the festivities year after year until it disbanded in 2018, when the event moved to the city of Gainesville.

Today, it remains the largest single-day event the city hosts, according to Main Street Gainesville manager Nicole Parham, and a meaningful way to celebrate the Gainesville of Christmases past, present and future.

“The Historic District is the heart of Gainesville — the origins, the things that helped us become who we are now as a community,” Parham said. “When we can celebrate our past, it’s also a way of celebrating today and also what’s to come. There’s such a mix of generations coming together. I think so often in our culture, we separate all generations – we have programs for children and young adults programs and things for the elderly, but things like Christmas on Green Street bring all generations together to celebrate together.”

This year’s Christmas on Green Street is scheduled for 4-7 p.m. on Sunday, December 4, with vintage cars, festive floats and lively marching bands.

The festivities kick off with the roads closing at 2 p.m. and the food court opening at 3 p.m.

The parade begins at 4 p.m., beginning near the “Y” intersection of Thompson Bridge Road and Riverside Drive and continuing along Green Street to EE Butler Parkway before exiting left onto Spring Street.

True to tradition, Santa Claus will close the march aboard a Gainesville fire truck before magically appearing at the Norton Agency during open houses, which are scheduled to begin around 5:30 p.m. immediately after the parade.

This year, each house has its own QR code that customers can scan and learn more about their historical background.

The solemn lighting of the Rotary Tree, a giant holly bush dominating the corner of Academy and Green streets, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.

As a beloved tradition that stands the test of time, Christmas on Green Street remains an important way to preserve history and a sense of place amid Gainesville’s continued growth and development, according to Parham.

“It brings a sense of place, a sense of tradition, and as a community it’s part of our foundation,” she said. “These are things that bring our culture to life.”

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