Christmas at the Courthouse in downtown Dayton is shaping up to be another spectacular event, event organizers said this week.

“There is something for everyone — from shopping with the downtown merchants for the adults, to photos with Santa for the kids, and even a Christmas Critters pageant for the other members of the family,” MainStreet Dayton Executive Director Rachel Marshall said. “Of course, everyone’s favorite is the annual Horse and Carriage Parade. Candlelight caroling and the lighting of the courthouse tree will conclude this festive Christmas event.”

Photos with Santa will be held at 1422 Market Street, across from the Gathering Place, beginning at noon.

“Bring your little ones, and your critters and have their picture taken with Santa,” Marshall said.

Registration for the Critters Pageant is at 2 p.m., with the pageant beginning at 2:30 p.m. After the pageant, Christmas music on the courthouse lawn will begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by the big event — the Horse & Carriage Parade at 4:30 p.m.

“Make sure to come down early and get a great spot to watch the parade,” Marshall said. “Visit the shops and restaurants downtown for great deals, and to enter the Festive Friday’s giveaway to win a Historic Rhea County Ornament. After the parade, candlelight caroling will take place on the courthouse lawn and the grand illumination of the courthouse when we turn on the Christmas lights and illuminate the Historic Rhea County Courthouse for the Christmas season.”

This year’s grand marshal for the parade is Tom Davis.

Davis has been an integral part of the Rhea County community for almost 40 years, Marshall said.

Davis moved to Dayton in 1976 after completing his master’s degree at the University of South Carolina to take a job at the then-Dayton Herald, currently The Herald-News.

Davis said that during his time at the newspaper, he got to know the county well in a relatively short period of time.

In 1991, Davis took a position with Bryan College as the Public Information Officer and it was at that time that he began working with the Scopes Festival with Dr. Richard Cornelius. Through Cornelius he learned a lot about the history of the Scopes Trial, Davis said, and he got involved with the Historical and Genealogical Society of which he is currently President.

In 2013 Davis left Bryan College to serve as the Rhea County Administrator of Elections.

“I’ve always been interested in government, so this position was very appealing to me,” Davis said. “I was excited to have the opportunity.”

Davis has also served as Dayton Chamber President, Vice Chair of the Economic Development Council — now the Rhea Economic and Tourism Council — and is a former Rhea County Commissioner.

He is currently president of the Scopes Festival and has been for the past 20 years. He is an active member at Westminster Presbyterian Church and is married to Susan Davis, a retired English teacher. The Davis’ are parents to Elaine Gates, Pamela Hollis, and Andrew Davis, and grandparents to Emily Hollis.

“It is because of Davis’ longstanding involvement in the community that we are honored to have him as our Grand Marshal this year,” Marshall said.

For parade and critter pageant entry forms, visit the Rhea County Welcome Center at 107 Main Street or visit