The folks at the Highlands Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center have been working with town staff to come up with a way to orchestrate holiday festivities during the COVID pandemic. Though events planned for the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the first Saturday in December will not be like events of the recent past, they will be memorable just the same.
Light up the Park
Dubbed “Light up the Park,” the lights and wreaths hung up throughout town will turn on at 6 p.m. on Nov. 28 and the public is invited to drive through Kelsey-Hutchinson Park and tune into WHLC who will be broadcasting carols, a Christmas Story, and hosting the lighting of the park opening.
Santa and Mrs. Clause
Before 6 p.m., Santa and Mrs. Clause will ride a firetruck through town to end up at the K-H Park where elves will toss candy canes to folks driving through.
Since Governor Roy Cooper has extended Phase 3 and mass gatherings of only 50 people are allowed through Dec. 4, the Chamber thought it was best to err on the side of caution and encourage people to drive through the park – pausing of course for candy canes and pictures – rather than gathering in-person this year. There is no program.
To be COVID safe, Santa and Mrs. Clause will not be in Santa’s Hut this year, but families can still use the hut and sleigh for photos from Nov. 28-Jan. 1 and letters to Santa can be deposited in the mailbox on site.
Highlands Ice Skating Rink will be open on Saturday, Nov. 28 from 1-8 p.m., but reservations are required. Register online HERE.
Drive-up movie ELF at the PAC
The movie “Elf” will be playing the evening of Saturday, Nov. 28, at Ray’s Drive-in at the Performing Arts Center drive-up theatre on Laurel Street. The movie is free and starts at 7 p.m., after the town lighting. Reservations are required because there are only 32 unobstructed view parking spaces. Call 828.526.9047 or register online HERE.
Olde Mountain Christmas parade (CANCELLED)
The following Saturday, Dec. 5 a hybrid Olde Mountain Christmas parade will take place from 6-8:30 p.m. Instead of folks lining Main Street watching the parade go by, folks in their vehicles will drive by floats set up in the center of Main Street from 3rd to 5th streets in a predetermined traffic loop.
Traffic will continue through K-H Park on Pine Street where Santa and his elves will again be on a firetruck giving out candy canes and the Pinnacle Brass Ensemble will be performing on stage.
Shop owners will be encouraged to keep the lights on in their stores to help light up the Main Street and those with floats are being encouraged to use decorative lights.
In addition to floats, there will be antique cars, the homecoming court, and music courtesy of bands set up along the way – the Curtis Blackwell Band, the Dean English Band and bagpipers, too.
Pictured at the top of the article are Santa and Mrs. Clause making their way through Highlands during last year’s Olde Mountain Christmas parade.
By Kim Lewicki, Highlands Newspaper