The Mayors Christmas Motorcade took off from Macon City Hall on Tuesday carrying a load of cheer to the patients at Central State Hospital in Milledgeville.
A city truck waited on Poplar Street, accompanied by police motorcycles, a fire truck and police command bus, while inside City Council chambers Mayor Robert Reichert talked to a roomful of St. Josephs Catholic School children about the annual event.
I believe in the magic of Christmas, he told the children.
Joining in the charity drive, which takes clothing, toiletries, games and other items to patients who may not have any remaining relatives, is a way to make that holiday magic real for all involved, Reichert said.
A host of city employees from many departments pitched in again this year.
About 80 Georgia cities participate in the Christmas Motorcade, which is operated by the Georgia Municipal Association. Now in its 55th year, when the annual effort started, the Milledgeville hospital was the only one in existence. Today motorcades visit seven public hospitals around the state, which house about 3,000 patients.
Macons effort got donations from many longtime corporate sponsors and some that had never participated before, said Felicia Green, the local chairwoman of the motorcade
It went much better this year, she said.
Six fundraising lunches, put on with corporate donations, raised $2,000, and more came in from a silent auction of donated goods.
We raised close to $5,000 this year, Green said. That enabled organizers to buy many items beyond the usual personal-hygiene products.
My heart is just full of joy that we could stretch our resources further, Green said.
Tuesdays gathering featured music from saxophonist Damon Brown and singer LaToya Woodford, prayers from Apostle Daniel Akins and a visit from Santa Claus.
Do yall like big surprises? Santa asked the St. Josephs students.
Yes! they replied.
Ive got surprises for each and every one of you. How about that? he said.
Each child got a toy and candy from Santa on the way out.
To contact writer Jim Gaines, call 744-4489.