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Christmas Merry Go Round opens at 5 p.m. EST Friday, December 1

A local Christmas tradition dating back to 1956 resumes on Friday when the Christmas Merry Go Round opens to the public at 5 p.m. EST. There’s usually a big crowd at the opening. People  are usually in long lines long before the first riders are on the painted ponies for the first ride of the year.

A new attraction this year is something that should please the older attendees. Jackson Heating & Air of LaGrange will have their heated tent on site throughout this year’s Merry Go Round run. It’s a warm; place to be for  parents, guardians and grandparents who are accompanying youngsters on a fun evening on the old Langdale tennis court. The tent maintains a pleasant temperature while having big windows where those inside get a clear view of the Merry Go Round as  it takes the fun-seeking younger set for a fun ride in the cool evening air.

This year, Valley Parks and Recreation and the Greater Valley Area Chamber of Commerce will team up for a second annual Mill Village Christmas. It will be taking place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST on three consecutive Saturdays – Dec. 2, 9 and 16 – leading up to Christmas.

Vendors from the local area will be on hand to showcase and to sell their items. According to Greater Valley Executive Director Ashley Crane, the vendors will include people with such items was Paparazzi jewelry, quilts and crafts, cutlery and Tupperware, recycled wood, crocheting and knitting items, homemade soap, bath balms and lotions, homemade barbecue sauce and other barbecue items.

Something new this year will be a 5k run. The inaugural Slay the 5k will start at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Farmers’ Market Pavilion. It’s open to all age groups, and winners in each age group will receiver medallions.

The course is along the CV Railroad Trail from the Pavilion to Valley High and back.

On Saturday, December 9th, the Pavilion area will play host to Gingerbread House Day. From 10 a.m. till the noon hour, participants can decorate their own Gingerbread  House. It’s $5 per house, and everything needed to decorate it will be provided. “All you need is your imagination,” said Valley Parks and Recreation Director Laurie Blount.

Merry Go Round commemorative items will be on sale. Long sleeve  t-shirts (in both youth and adult sizes) are $15 each, short-sleeve Merry Go Round t-shirts are $12 each. 60th anniversary Christmas tree ornaments are $12 each.

This year’s Merry Go Round will run from Friday, December 1st till Thursday, December 21st. The hours are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. on  Mondays through Fridays, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays.

The Christmas Merry Go Round started as a Christmas gift to Valley area children some 61 years ago now. For many years it was located on a little league baseball field across from Fairfax Mill. In 1968, it  was on Shawmut Circle for one year before going back to Fairfax.

In recent years, the Merry Go Round has been at Valley Sportsplex for  three years before going to its present location in front of Langdale Mill.

At the outset,  the  annual attraction was sponsored by West Point Manufacturing Company and its successor companies. It’s now sponsored by the City of Valley, local businesses and individuals.

“It’s a tradition we are proud to continue from year to year,” Blount said. “Some people have ridden the Merry Go Round every year since 1956. Some people who grew up here and loved to ride it  when they were young, come back to  the Valley every Christmas season to ride the Merry Go Round with their children and  grandchildren. It’s a unique  Christmas gift that continues, and one anyone with ties to the Valley should participate in each Christmas season.”