Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade packs downtown

Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade had a solid roster this year, including Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus, the Mountain Garden Club Dancers, Three Wise Men with camels and sheep from the Highlands United Methodist Church, a giant inflatable shark for the Highlands Hurricanes swim team, Highlands Homecoming Court, Highlands Cheerleaders, marching bands from Franklin and Rosman high schools, bagpipers, and plenty of floats from local nonprofits and businesses descended upon Main Street for some good old fashioned Christmas cheer on Dec. 7.

Santa and Mrs. Claus spreading good cheer pretty much everywhere they looked.

Hosted by the Highlands Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, Executive Director Kaye McHan said the turnout was “huge” as spectators lined Main Street.

“Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade is a great treasure to the community,” said McHan. “It provides quality time for friends and family to get together and share the joy of community and the holidays.”

Highlands Hurricanes shark float makes its way through a sea of people in downtown Highlands last Sunday for the Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade.

Chamber Events and Volunteer Manager Beverly Wichman said this was possibly the largest turnout in parade history.

“The parade was larger this year with 51 entries,” said Wichman. “While we do not count, we believe there were the most spectators ever. The weather certainly helped!”

One of the reason parade-goers make this an annual tradition is getting to see the Mountain Garden Club Dancers who have put on a creative dance routine for the past 22 years.

MGC Dancer Chris Boltz breaking it down to “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”

MCG Dancer Jeannie Chambers has suited up the routine for 20 years and said the troupe begins practicing a couple times a week in October, but hits the dancefloor daily the week before the show. This year’s routine included a big finish straight out of Radio City Music Hall with synchronized high kicks.

“It’s really a lot of fun,” said Chambers.  “Seeing the reactions on all of the peoples’ faces is wonderful. All the comradery and laughing. I have two left feet, so you don’t have to be able to dance well to do this.”

The Mountain Garden Club dancers practicing for the big day at Highlands Rec Park.

The routine was choreographed by Ester Gooch to the song “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.”

The song and the costume are always kept a secret until the day of the parade. The ladies perform in rain or shine and spread the word about gardening and MGC’s Annual Plant Sale, May 23, 2020. Read about last year’s rainy parade HERE.

“Last year it poured on us, but after a while you just go with it,” said Chambers.

Wichman added the animals behaved well for the most part, camels were a bit stubborn, and the parade couldn’t come together each year without the support of the volunteers, the community, and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus.

Three Wise Men from Highlands United Methodist Church.

Students from The Literacy Council celebrate their favorite holiday literary characters.

Highlands Middle School Cheerleaders psyching spectators up during the parade.

Highlands Chamber Board Chair and owner of Highlands Hiker Hilary Wilkes rocking a red nose.

Blue Ridge Free Dental Clinic always pushing proper dental hygiene.

A red-nosed Steve Hott, coach of the Highlands Hurricanes trailing a huge inflatable shark.

Several friends from the Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society joined in the fun.

Highlands girls basketball representing at the annual Highlands Christmas parade.

Lenny Metrick says hello from Highlands Fire & Rescue.

Blue Ridge Early College Fire Academy Chief Lee Sudia representing Cashiers-Glenville Fire Department.

A slew of characters from the Three Wise Men were on hand in front of the Highlands United Methodist Church.

Park on Main John Woods getting in the spirit donning a reindeer costume.

Franklin High School marching band performed throughout the parade.

Rosman High School marching band also performed.

Kyle Merritt spreading good cheer with the crew from Old Edwards Inn.

Highlands Aerial Park hanging out during the parade.

Highlands Homecoming Court

Article and photos by Brian O’Shea
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