MILLEDGEVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Mayors from across the state are pulling together to give gifts to patients of Georgia's mental health and retardation hospitals.
The motorcade kicked off the annual donation for Central State Hospital. Trumpets filled the air, cars and motorcycles covered the streets and crowded gathered to watch the parade.
"It's a day we look forward to every year," Milledgeville Mayor Richard Bentley said.
And it couldn't come at a better time. Bentley says some of the mental health patients at Central State Hospital may not get gifts or see family during the holidays. So this fundraiser and parade gets everyone in the Christmas spirit.
"The fact we can have people who care enough in our community and other communities to provide that for them, it's just a blessing in of itself," Bentley said.
A blessing that's been giving for more than 50 years. The Georgia Municipal Association began the Mayors' Christmas Motorcade in 1958. Over 50 years later, the tradition is still going strong. Hospital officials are grateful for the mayors' donations and gifts.
"The outpouring of love and support that they mayors have brought and the gifts that they bring really do make Christmas time really special to these folks," Dan Howell, Regional Hospital Administrator for Central State Hospital, said.
Everyone in the community gets to enjoy a Christmas parade and kick of the season in style.
"Our community is a community that cares and this is the day that we actually prove it," Bentley said. "And to have others see that and share in the Christmas spirit, it's a wonderful day for that reason."
For the patients and staff at Central State Hospital, it's the reason for the season.
At least 10 mayors have donated so far and officials expect more to participate. Officials don't have an exact number of how much money was raised, but do expect donations to go up this year.