Pilot Mountain celebrated the holiday season Saturday evening with its 47th annual Christmas parade, preceded by the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree with a ceremony in front of Town Hall.
Spectators were welcomed to the tree lighting by Mayor Dwight Atkins, who then oversaw the lighting of the tree. A group of local residents and students who are North Carolina Honors Chorus alumni then performed several Christmas carols and classics.
They were followed by Diane Blakemore of the Pilot Mountain Tourism Development Authority, who announced the winning businesses from the town’s window decorating contest.
Eleven entrants took part in the contest with Miriam Haircolorist Salon claiming first place. Second place went to Access Books and More while Mount Pilot Country Store claimed third place.
The People’s Choice award, voted on by Facebook likes, went to Kritter Kutts Pet Grooming.
East Surry students Sara Terwilliger and Daphne Dotson then performed an unusual rendition of a pair of traditional Christmas favorites. Former East Surry student Andrew Millsaps concluded the ceremony with a performance of his own Christmas composition, “Newborn King.”
The annual parade then made its way from the East Surry parking lot along the length of Main Street. While this year’s parade was the first in the event’s history to charge a registration fee, participation did not appear to be affected.
“It was one of the biggest parades we’ve had in recent years,” noted Chris Wall, a member of the sponsoring Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad’s Parade Committee. “It went great and everybody had a great attitude toward the registration fee.”
A $10 fee was assessed for all business, commercial and individual entries, with all proceeds going toward the Give a Kid a Christmas charitable campaign. No fee was charged for charities, schools and churches.
“We had some ask us if $10 was all we wanted,” Wall said, “and there were others who qualified for no fee but the person signing up gave us a donation anyway. There was a lot of Christmas spirit on display and people were eager to work with us.”
An assortment of entries from local churches, businesses and individuals showed off the creative use of lights and floats. Local schools and public safety agencies were also well represented as were area troops and packs from both Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
A large turnout of spectators lined the street, Wall noted, with the downtown area especially packed.
“We want to thank everybody who came out to participate or to watch,” Wall said. “I think everybody had a great night.”