Pilot ready for Christmas season to begin

By Dean Palmer - Special to the News

Downtown Pilot Mountain will officially launch the Christmas shopping season on Saturday as the Pilot Mountain Tourism Development Authority (TDA) and the Pilot Mountain Unites group join to host the third annual Deck the Halls in Pilot Mountain holiday kick-off.

From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., a variety of festive community events and promotions will be featured, thanks to the participation of more than 16 local merchants and business and civic organizations.

According to Diane Blakemore of the Pilot Mountain TDA, the day is designed to fill a pair of objectives.

“We want this to bring people into town as we continue to work to create a sense of community for our local residents,” she explained. “We want them to enjoy being a part of this day and of this town. Now, a lot of people commute to other towns and cities for work and they don’t spend as much time here. We want to give them an opportunity and a reason to walk our streets and to meet their neighbors here.”

“This is also a chance for people to support their local businesses,” Blakemore continued. “That can be long-time favorite businesses or new business that some may not have heard of yet. But we want this to be a fun day without a lot of spending requirements. We’ll have a lot of free things, This is geared toward families and it should be a day the entire family can enjoy.”

According to Blakemore, the concept for the day came about three years ago from an idea for a window decorating contest along Main Street. The annual contest will again be a part of this year’s activities. 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 on Dec. 2, at the annual downtown tree lighting ceremony to be held preceding the Pilot Mountain Christmas Parade.

Other holiday touches will include Christmas music throughout the town and a performance by DJ Drew Pell. And merchants will be adding their own creative holiday touches.

Visitors are encouraged to begin their venture by stopping in at The Art of Massage. There they’ll be given a SWAG bag, provided by the Small Business Saturday national promotion, containing gifts from local merchants. The business will also be the site of an Igloo Village and will host an Art Hop from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., featuring live music, demonstrations and plenty of local art.

Participants can pick up a map for a downtown scavenger hunt, leading seekers to specific businesses where they can find answers to collect and, if returned, become eligible for one of five grand prizes. Each prize will be valued between $90-100.

Next door, The Living Room will feature an artisan’s bazaar, featuring an assortment of vendors offering handcrafted and locally made items of all types.

Other features will include a visit from Santa, scheduled for 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at the Town Hall Visitor Center. Santa will be available for free photo opportunities as well as time with children.

Frank Hamby will return to offer easily accessible hay rides 1 p.m.. to 4 p.m., beginning at the Stone Library and extending through the downtown area to the Pilot International Gift Shop. Periodic stops will be made throughout the route for visitors to stop at Town Hall or a favorite merchant and later reconnect to continue their ride.

In addition to other food opportunities, a pair of food trucks will be on hand in the Town Hall parking lot.

The front lawn of Town Hall will be transformed into a Winter Carnival, offering a variety of winter-themed games at no charge. Inside, youngsters will be encouraged to drop a letter with return address into Santa’s mailbox and a card-making station will be open to all. Families will be encouraged to make a pair of cards, one for a favorite friend or relative and a second to be given to brighten the Christmas of a local participant in the Meals on Wheels program.

The front lawn of the Stone Library will feature a Gingerbread Playland, with gingerbread houses for children to play in as parents are presented with holiday photo opportunities.

Scattered throughout town, participating merchants will be offering their own store promotions, give-aways, drawings and sales as craft stations, paint parties, door prizes and other holiday offerings.

“This event fits perfectly with the whole purpose of Pilot Mountain Unites,” said Kim Quinn, town commissioner. noted. “We bring our local businesses and residents together and encourage shopping locally. We’ve been having a separate Ladies Night Out event about this time and we decided we would join with the TDA for this.”

“This is our third year of doing this,” Blakemore noted, “and it’s gotten a little easier to plan. There’s less confusion and our businesses are excited. We’re pleased with the partnerships we’ve formed as we all work on using this to encourage people to come together as a part of our town.”

By Dean Palmer

Special to the News

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