By Hailey Blevins
In Beech Mountain, there’s a new winter attraction just in time for Christmas. Outside the Beech Mountain Visitor Center, a life size ornament sits, waiting for visitors to spot it and take a picture inside it.
Kate Gavenus, Director of Tourism and Economic Development, says that the ornament is meant to encourage visitors to stop and learn about Beech Mountain.
“That Christmas ornament was a product of the partnership between the Town of Beech Mountain and the Beech Mountain Tourism Development Authority. What we were wanting to do was make some point of visual interest along the Beech Mountain Parkway, and this was our first attempt. I think it was highly, highly successful.”
Kate has aptly nicknamed the ornament, “I’ve been calling it the Beech Ball. I like words and thought that was funny.”
The Beech Ball stands at a height of 12 feet inside. With the cap on the top, the ornament reaches 16 feet tall. It is 14 feet wide and has a total of 2,640 LED lights on it. This makes the Beech Ball the perfect spot for family pictures, day or night.
So far, the ornament has attracted many picture takers. “We’ve been keeping a tally sheet of the number of people we actually see stop and take family pictures at that Christmas ornament, and it looks like it’s been over 600. And that’s just in the time we’re open and can see people here in the visitor’s center,” says Kate.
Visitors are busy capturing their own memories inside Beech Mountain’s new ornament. “It’s fabulous. It’s going to be in everybody’s holidays memories and probably everybody’s ski memories too.”
The ornament will be up through the end of January, providing a “memorable point people can stop at” when they visit Beech Mountain, but this isn’t the only photo worthy spot at Beech Mountain. Much of Beech Mountain is lit up with Christmas lights and decorated for Christmas. “We light the entire commercial district, which is from the beginning of town down to the Beech Mountain Resort, but we also do some spots along the way down towards Pine Ridge Road and the Buckeye Rec Center as well.”
This means there are lots of amazing spoke to enjoy the Christmas lights. “For most of our lighting, our landscaper Susie Knepka is the one who is responsible. And she is also responsible for the little figures you see hidden in trees and for Santa lying in the tree of lights.”
Kate says that Susie works to keep Beech Mountain pretty year round, saying, “She’s just got this wonderful, creative mind. She’s out thinking new things all the time.”
The hope is that the Christmas ornament will get people to stop and encourage them to explore Beech Mountain more. “We want people to come and see it and enjoy it, experience the magic of it. Enjoy some of the restaurants, the shopping, the ski resort, the sledding hill, the hiking trails, maybe even some winter fishing. It’s just a neat place.”
Kate hinted that next year there will be some new additions to the attraction, but says that plans are currently under wraps until then. It’s beginning to look like Beech Mountain will have a new tradition to uphold for visitors looking for photo opportunities. “Hopefully, they’ll stop year after year, and be able to record their family’s memories there over and over again.”
Susie Knepka’s Christmas Designs Around the Town.
More Photos of Susie Knepka’s Work