CITY PICKS 

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THEATRE — Charleston Stage's phantasmic take on the old holiday standby
A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas
Opening Fri. Dec. 2
8:15 p.m.
Shows Dec. 2, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14, 15, 16, 17 at 8:15 p.m.; Dec. 4, 11, 18 at 3 p.m.
$35/adults, $33/seniors, $25/students
Dock Street Theatre
135 Church St.
577-7183
www.charlestonstage.com

If you're saying to yourself, "eh, if you've seen one Christmas Carol, you've seen them all," think again. The timeless story of the miserly, miserable Scrooge and his life-changing journey through the past, present, and future gets a new spin from Charleston Stage this year as Mike Christensen, Charleston Stage's prop and special effects wizard, premieres his fantastic vision of Charles Dickens' classic. The "ghost story" promises snow, fog, pyrotechnics (including fireworks!), and flying provided by award-winning special effects team Flying by Foy. Charleston Stage founder Julian Wiles wrote the new adaptation, which focuses on the spooky aspects of A Christmas Carol and contains all new songs created by veteran arranger Wendell Smith.
OPENS FRIDAY


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CULINARY EVENT — Does Justin Locke have what it takes to beat the fire chief?
Celebrity Chili Cook-Off
Sat. Dec. 3
2-5 p.m.
$25
Charleston Maritime Center
10 Wharfside St.
747-4849 ext. 210
www.jaspca.com

Come out to this fifth annual event and set your mouth aflame while sampling the cooking talents of local celebrities, from Fire Chief Rusty Thomas to TV news personalities Patrick Villegas, Brad Franco, and Justin Locke, to radio personalities Morgen from The Bridge at 105.5, TJ Phillips from WEZL, and Tanya from 95SX's "Two Girls and a Guy." There will also be a silent auction, and admission includes chili, beer, and wine. Proceeds from this event support the John Ancrum Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which is currently working to build a new, bigger facility to house and prepare for adoption the thousands of homeless animals in Charleston County.
SATURDAY


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EVENT — Just imagine the energy bills for that sucker
Charleston Tree Lighting Ceremony
Sat. Dec. 3
5-6:30 p.m.
Free
Marion Square
Corner of Calhoun and King streets
724-7305

Charleston Christmas Parade
Sun. Dec. 4
2-5 p.m.
Free
Begins at the corner of Calhoun and Meeting streets
720-1981

The festivities at the tree lighting ceremony, where Mayor Joe Riley and Santa Claus will light the magnificent 60-foot Tree of Lights, include performances by The Have Nots!, the Charleston Community Band, and various other choral and dance groups. Then on Sunday, the Tri-County Fire Chiefs Association presents the 25th annual Christmas parade, featuring bands, floats, marchers, and performers parading through downtown Charleston. The parade begins at the corner of Calhoun and Meeting streets, then proceeds down King Street to Broad Street to Lockwood Boulevard. If you only have the stomach to endure one Christmas-y tradition this year, do yourself a favor and visit the Tree of Lights at some point, then look up and spin around while standing directly under the center. It'll really ramp up that ho-ho-ho spirit.
SATURDAY AND SUNDAY


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VISUAL ARTS EVENT — 'Tis nobler to both gift and give
Winter 2005 CharitableArt Walk
Fri. Dec. 2
5-8 p.m.
Free
Various locations
577-7100
www.frenchquarterarts.com

The French Quarter Arts Gallery Association hosts this event, featuring nearly 30 downtown galleries located in Charleston's historic French Quarter opening their newest exhibitions. OK, so there are plenty of art walks that take place over the course of the year (well, four, really, since they're quarterly) -- but each year, only one of them doubles as a way to give back this holiday season while simultaneously picking up a nice gift or two to give in lieu of the same old tie and dress shirt Dad always gets.. A portion of the evening's sales will benefit Team in Training, an organization affiliated with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of America.
FRIDAY


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EVENT — Plenty of red-ribbon ring-ups
Shopping With Friends
Sat. Dec. 3
All day
Various locations
747-2273
www.aids-services.com

After witnessing the popularity of the annual Dining With Friends event, national and local retailers decided to join forces for Shopping With Friends -- Live, Love, Shop!, which benefits Lowcountry Aids Services. On a day that's prime time for holiday shopping, select businesses will donate 10 percent of their net sales to the charity. Last year, 70+ retailers raised over $60,000 in the one-day event. This year, over 100 stores have signed on; for a full list of participating stores, visit LAS' website: www.aids-services.com/shopping.html. There will also be a brunch sponsored by Allure Magazine, where guests can mingle with Charleston Magazine writers and Art Smith, Oprah Winfrey's personal chef, plus enter to win a spa getaway. To reserve a seat at the brunch table for $35, call the number above or visit LAS' website.
SATURDAY


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CONCERT MUSIC — The stars are brightly singing
Charleston Symphony Orchestra Gospel Christmas
Sat. Dec. 3
8 p.m.
$25, $5/students
Gaillard Auditorium
77 Calhoun St.
554-6060
www.charlestonsymphony.com

The CSO Gospel Choir, led by director Vivian E. Jones and guest conductor Vincent Danner, will ring in the holiday season with their sixth annual Christmas concert. The 80 members of the CSO Gospel Choir will raise their voices as one to perform down-home traditional arrangements and beloved Christmas favorites such as "Give God the Glory," "Amen," "Glory, Glory to the Newborn King," "Three Black Kings," and "O Holy Night" as the CSO provides the orchestral accompaniment.
SATURDAY


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FILM — Take a break from the Christmas madness
Campfire
Tues. Dec. 6
7 p.m.
Free
Charleston County Main Library
68 Calhoun St.
805-6803
www.ccpl.org

The Charleston County Public Library presents Campfire as part of their free, monthly Film Movement series, which shows award-winning, first-run independent and foreign films from the world's top film festivals. Director Joseph Cedar's Campfire, an award-winning Israeli film set in the West Bank in 1981, tells the story of a widow and her two teenage daughters as they try to find a way into one of the newly established Jewish settlements. "Without a husband to assist with heavy lifting and prayers, her family is viewed as a liability. Reluctantly, Rachel agrees to go on blind dates while her daughters enter romantic quandaries of their own; these encounters are awkward, charming, and devastating," says Time Out New York.
TUESDAY

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