The third annual Deck the Halls in Pilot Mountain event proved to be quite the attraction Saturday, drawing Christmas shoppers, their families and others eager to start their holiday celebration to downtown Pilot Mountain.
Visitors from surrounding communities and beyond filled the street to take part in a varied program of activities, including a scavenger hunt, a hay ride, interactive holiday decorations for children, crafts and other creative activities and, of course, a visit from Santa.
Merchants enhanced the holiday shopping by offering an assortment of specials, give-aways and promotions.
The day was coordinated in a joint effort by the Pilot Mountain Tourism Development Authority and the group, Pilot Mountain Unites, best known for its Ladies’ Night Out events.
“I always try to attend the Ladies’ Night Out evenings,” noted Shoals resident Dewana Knight. “I love all the downtown events.”
Knight spent a busy afternoon with her family, enjoying some local shopping while encouraging her children to take part in the activities.
“This is the first time I’ve brought my kids with me and we’ve all enjoyed it,” she continued. “I love the idea of having a Christmas event with shopping and something to do for the whole family.”
Merchants were also upbeat about the day and its potential. Owner Cook’e Jessup of Mount Pilot Antiques said she expected the day to pay dividends throughout the holiday season.
“It’s a good idea and we’ve had a good day,” Jessup noted. “I like this. People are working hard to promote our town and businesses and they’re being successful. I appreciate all the effort that goes into organizing and promoting something like this. This will continue to help us as we go into December. It shows people that we’re here and gets them to thinking of shopping Pilot Mountain.”
The concept for the day came about three years ago from an idea for a window decorating contest along Main Street, promoted by the tourism authority. The contest continued this year with four winners to be named. Judges will determine the first, second and third place winners while a People’s Choice winner will be named based on likes from the Deck the Halls In Pilot Mountain Facebook page. Winners will be announced Saturday evening, at the annual downtown tree lighting ceremony to be held preceding the Pilot Mountain Christmas Parade.
The Deck the Halls event was timed to coincide with a national Small Business Saturday-Shop Small effort initiated in 2010 by American Express as a way of encouraging support for small business. The day is held annually on the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Pilot Mountain tourism representative Diane Blakemore was pleased with the early results from the day.
“It’s gone really well,” she said. “We’ve had lots of people come out and we’ve been seeing lots of smiles. I’ve heard that some people were selling out of popular items. It’s a great start for the holidays and everyone seems to be enjoying themselves.”
Pilot Mountain Unites Director Kim Quinn pointed to the distribution of a “SWAG bag,” provided by the Small Business Saturday national promotion and containing gifts from local merchants, as a way of estimating the event’s popularity. She noted that of the 500 bags prepared, almost all were gone by 4 p.m.
“We’ve had a really good turnout,” Quinn noted. “This has been a day of people shopping and having fun.”