Officials: More than quarter million people visit Mississippi small-town Christmas celebration

Published 6:03 am Saturday, January 7, 2023

Officials with one of Mississippi’s grandest Christmas celebrations report that more than a quarter-million people visited Marion County during its “Experience Columbia” event.

Organizers are busy dismantling the temporary ice skating rink that was built for the event and taking down the Christmas decorations that covered most of downtown Columbia. After saying farewell to this year’s event with a New Year’s Eve bash, including music by Mississippi’s Chapel Hart, officials are now saying hello to the economic impact of the celebration.

Officials with the event say that ran from Nov 19-Dec. 31 said that nearly 300,000 people visited the ice skating rink, stopped to enjoy the Christmas laser and light show, enjoyed the annual Nativity drama, Christmas parade and other live events that were planned during the 42-day celebration.

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Lori Watts, president of the Marion County Development Partnership, told WDAM in Hattiesburg that the event had a total regional impact of about $22 million across the Pine Belt.