By Nathan Ham
Santa Clause had a busy weekend in Banner Elk, finding time to take part in a pancake breakfast, take photos with pets, read stories to children and even take a jump into Wildcat Lake for the Polar Plunge.
Banner Elk’s Small Town Christmas brought big crowds to Avery County over the weekend that included a wide range of events.
The weekend started on Friday with caroling, hot chocolate and the lighting of the Christmas tree donated by Elk River Evergreens in Elk Park.
“That was well attended, we had probably 200 hundred people come out for that,” said Nancy Owen, Banner Elk’s Tourism Development Director.
Saturday started with the Reindeer Run during the morning sponsored by Williams YMCA of Avery County, followed by a pancake breakfast with Santa Clause. After that, Santa headed to the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce where people brought their pets to have a photo made with Santa, thanks to the Avery County Humane Society.
The fun didn’t stop there for good ole Santa as he spent the next little while at the Banner Elk Book Exchange where he helped children make Christmas cards and bookmarks and also read them a story.
The inaugural Polar Plunge at Wildcat Lake brought some great costumes and brave jumpers into the cold waters as a fundraiser for the lake and the Banner Elk Volunteer Fire Department. According to Owen, they were able to raise $1,000 dollars.
As the sun began to set, the Christmas parade lined up down Main Street and featured Santa Clause (of course) as the special guest. The Avery County High School band played a musical recital at the park and a synchronized Christmas light show mesmerized the crowd. The night was capped off with train rides around the mark and a big bonfire to roast marshmallows.
“It was a huge crowd, probably the biggest crowd yet. All the events were packed and really got everyone into the holiday spirit and it seemed like everyone was having a great time and really enjoying themselves,” said Owen.
Getting ready for the Polar Plunge
Scenes from the Christmas Tree Lighting