by Madison V. Fisler
Dec. 6, 2013. On Saturday, Dec. 7, the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce, Banner Elk Tourism Development Association and the Town of Banner Elk will host the annual “Christmas in the Park” celebration and the Parade of Lights.
The highlight of the Christmas in the Park Celebration is the Parade of Lights in downtown Banner Elk. Everyone is invited to join in the parade with decorated cars and floats, no registration necessary. Simply line up between 4:30 and 5 p.m. and follow the parade to Tate-Evans Park for the annual tree lighting ceremony and to meet Santa Claus, according to the Banner Elk Chamber of Commerce.
The Banner Elk Parade of Lights is unique in the High Country in that it is a night parade that only takes to the street after nightfall at 5:30 p.m. The parade is truly a sight to see, as all of the floats are lit up with lights for the procession to Tate-Evans Park. People line the streets in excitement for the small but mighty parade in beautiful Banner Elk.
“This is only our second year doing a night parade,” said Jo-Ann McMurray, member of the board of directors and organizer of the event.
“People really seem to enjoy decorating their cars or wagons or whatever they have with lights to parade through town. There is no registration, so people get really excited to decorate and line up for the parade.”
Every year, hundreds of people turn out for the parade and it just seems to be growing. This year, it was decided to do an all day “Christmas in the Park” event to accommodate all of the people and to try to do something a little different.
“Every year it just gets bigger and bigger,”McMurray said. “It just keeps attracting more and more folks, so we just decided, hey, lets just make this an all day event and have as much fun as we can! This is something that holds a very special place in my heart. My dad did this in a little town in New Jersey when I was growing up. I followed him and worked with him and had children of my own, so I just felt like this was something I needed to do.”
Check out our photos of last year’s night parade:
But the celebration is more than just a spectacular night parade. The all-day event will feature plenty of fun activities for the whole family to enjoy from morning to night.
The schedule of events is as follows:
- Breakfast with Santa and the Sugar Bears at Dunn’s Deli 8:30-10 a.m.
- Screening of “The Polar Express” at Evans Auditorium at Lees-McRae College at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
- Pet photos with Santa at My Best Friend’s Barkery (call for appointment)
- Cookie Decorating with the Sugar Mountain Bears at Banner Elk Cafe 2:30-3:30 p.m.
- Beer tasting at Flat Top Brewing Company 1 p.m. until the beer runs out
- Reading of The Night Before Christmas at The Little Main Street Inn 3:30-4:30 p.m. (make sure to wear your pajamas!)
- The U.S. Army Special Forces Ice Carving Team 3-8 p.m. in Tate-Evans Park
- Parade of Lights from Lees-McRae College to Tate-Evans Park at 5:30 p.m.
- Luminary Lighted Train Rides in Tate-Evans Park following the parade
- Meet Santa after the parade in Tate-Evans Park
- Tree Lighting Ceremoy after the parade in Tate-Evans Park
- Live Nativity Scene in Tate-Evans Park, animals courtesy of Apple Hill Farm
Don’t forget to come meet Santa’s elves at the Bayou from 2-5 p.m with face painting, balloon animals and seasonal songs. Kids can write letters to Santa Claus at the Letter Writing Station as well. Meet Randi and Holly, two of Santa’s favorite elves, and join in for hours of interactive fun! This event is free of charge and open to the public, so come join in! The Bayou Smokehouse and Grill is located in the center of the Village Shops 1 block from the Banner Elk Stoplight. For more information, call 828-898-8952.
So if you’re looking for a spectacular day of fun and a night filled with lights, head on out to Banner Elk to enjoy “Christmas in the Park” and the Parade of Lights.