By Kris Testori
The rain and fog Friday evening didn’t deter hundreds of people from going to downtown Blowing Rock to celebrate winter and the Christmas season at the Blowing Rock Holiday Stroll.
The festive event captured the hearts of the folks who braved the weather to celebrate the holidays. “This was my first year joining in on the Christmas fun, and even though the weather stunk- it was still a magical event,” said Ashli Kemo. Kemo, dressed as Sparkles the Elf, was passing out candy provided by Spanger Restoration. “The atmosphere and the way the children’s eyes glowed when they saw Santa is truly what the season is about.”
The annual event, slated as a town-wide holiday open house, showcased the already glowing streets. Strolling carolers from the Blowing Rock Garden Club made their way down Main Street as food trucks served dinner options. Special guests, children’s crafts, and a Pop-Up Holiday Market added to the festivities.
Two of those special guests, Santa and Mrs. Claus, arrived at the Gazebo in Memorial Park and then participated in the stroll. Chilly and Crystal, the Winterfest Snow Pals joined them on their journey. Kids had an opportunity to send their letters to Santa at the Blowing Rock mailbox. The Carolina Snowbelles, a precision dance troupe, performed in various downtown locations and held a Meet and Greet following each performance.
Participants noshed on complimentary bites and drinks from local stores that stayed open late to celebrate the season. While there were too many offerings to list, some highlights include prosecco and an array of flavored brownies at Crown Gallery. Neaco’s poured their famous Holiday Cosmos. The Spice & Tea Exchange served up their favorite gourmet refreshments and appetizers made with the store’s spice blends. At Blowing Rock Antiques, Santa Claus and some of his elves passed out snacks and drinks. Kids had a chance to sit on Santa’s lap, take photos, and have their faces painted by elves.
Other events at the Holiday Stroll included a Pop-Up Market with local artists sponsored by the Watauga Arts Council. This Market, located at First Baptist Church, was also the location of two food trucks.
“It was great to see so many local businesses and organizations jump in to be part of this year’s event,” said Amanda Lugenbell, Blowing Rock’s Tourism Development Authority’s assistant director. “With their participation and the help of generous volunteers, the whole town rolled out another festive holiday welcome for all.”
At the far end of Main Street, The Blowing Rock Art and History Museums docent Sam Reep offered a Holiday Tour. The tour highlighted wintry scenes and holiday symbols throughout the museum’s current exhibitions.
To wrap up the night, participants were encouraged to drive through the Chetola Resort’s Festival of Lights, featuring a sparkling display with thousands of dazzling illuminations throughout the resort. The Festival of Lights illuminates at dusk each evening and remains up through Blowing Rock WinterFest at the end of January.