Photos by Jim Swinkola and Cindy McEnery
The most wonderful time of the year made its way to Banner Elk this weekend as the community’s treasured Small Town Christmas celebration returned to the High Country.
Friends and families gathered around the 40-foot Avery County Christmas Tree in front of the Historic Banner Elk School for a lighting ceremony and enjoyed Christmas carols performed by the Lees-McRae College Highlanders a cappella group before settling inside the school for a community wide viewing of the popular holiday comedy “Elf.”
Early birds started the day with the Reindeer Run 5K Race on Saturday morning, which was sponsored by the local YMCA, and had breakfast with Santa at Dunn’s Deli.
Throughout the day, children and families enjoyed a candy cane hunt at Tate-Evans Park, reading with Santa at the Banner Elk Book Exchange, treats with their pups at My Best Friend’s Barkery, Christmas cookie decorating at Banner Elk Cafe, ornament decorating at the Bayou and Christmas festivities with the alpacas at the nearby Apple Hill Farm.
Saturday afternoon, excitement filled the air as townsfolk prepared for the highlight of the season’s festivities — the Parade of Lights. As the only nighttime parade of its kind in the High Country, the event took place at nightfall and filled the dark sky with bright and glowing lights and luminaries.
The parade’s cars, floats, marching bands and other participants made their way through town along with Santa Claus, who arrived to the fun via fire truck. It concluded at the park, where Santa stopped to sit and spend time with kids who were eager to share their Christmas wish lists. Rides on the mini train were also very popular among the kids!
The next day, many folks spent the remainder of their weekends hunting for the perfect tree to take home from Avery County’s hundreds of farms.
Couldn’t be there? Enjoy these photos from the festivities and get excited for Christmas!
Donna Dicks reading to children at the Banner Elk Book Exchange (photos by Jim Swinkola):
Cub Scout Pack 807 preparing luminaries for A Small Town Christmas (photos by Jim Swinkola):
Williams YMCA Reindeer Run 5K Race (photos by Jim Swinkola):
Christmas celebration at Apple Hill Farm (photos by Cindy McEnery):