Christmas is in the air



With Thanksgiving arriving later than usual, Blount County Christmas activities will follow immediately on the heels of celebrating our blessings. The Festival of Lights and three Christmas parades will all be held within 10 days. Decorating contests, a festive tree contest, letters to Santa, and a light extravaganza are also part of the festivities. Mark your calendars to attend events celebrating the Christmas season. Oneonta Business Association

Kicking off the season will be Oneonta Business Association’s Festival of Lights. As part of OBA’s desire of “making Oneonta a holiday attraction and shopping destination,” many events will be held throughout the Christmas season.

The festival’s first event will be the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Friday, Nov. 29, at 6 p.m. The ceremony will take place at the gazebo and angel wings mural and will feature Santa Claus arriving by fire truck, free hot chocolate, performances by Miss Covered Bridge titleholders, along with music to enjoy throughout the evening.

The Festival Tree contest will feature more than 30 beautifully decorated Christmas trees on display near the gazebo from Nov. 29 through Jan. 1. Be sure to park and stroll, choose your favorite, and then cast your vote for the winning entry.

As the Festival of Lights celebration continues, two photo opportunities with Santa will be available.Santa will be at Miller’s Soda Shoppe Friday, Nov. 29, from 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. On Thursday, Dec. 12, he will stop at Neely School of Music and Arts from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There is no charge. Bring your camera for some memorable pictures.

Many local businesses have taken part in the Holiday Decorating contest. Check out those participating in the contest and vote for your favorite on the OBA Facebook page.

The young (and those young at heart) can stop by Miller’s Soda Shoppe and mail letters to Santa by Dec. 18. For a custom, individualized reply include a return address and $3 to help defray printing and postage costs. No two letters will be alike. Net proceeds will benefit the Light the Town fund.

Festival of Lights award winners will be announced Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 6 p.m., at the angel wings mural. West Blount

West Blount Fire Department, the town of Hayden, and West Blount Chamber of Commerce welcome everyone to the annual Hayden Christmas Parade Tuesday, Dec. 3, at 7 p.m. The parade route will begin at Hayden Primary School and end at the Town Hall. Everyone is encouraged to dress warmly as they enjoy this special night. Blountsville

Santa Claus will be coming to Blountsville Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m., for the annual Christmas parade. Immediately following the parade, Blountsville Town Hall will host an open house for everyone to enjoy free cocoa, cookies, and candy. Santa, Mrs. Claus, and the elves will be there for photos, so don’t forget to bring your camera. Blount-Oneonta Chamber of Commerce

The 2019 Blount County Christmas Parade kicks off Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. The parade will begin at the intersection of Ala 75 and Ingle Street near Zaxby’s and will follow the usual route down Ala 75 toward the Blount County Courthouse.

The “Parade of Lights” theme, which encourages everyone to really light up their floats, will be used again this year and allow people to make full use of their imagination when coming up with float design and use of Christmas lights. Cash prizes will be awarded for best non-profit floats.

Grand Marshals will be the state champion Hayden Wildcats softball team. Plans are for Santa to be near the head of the parade. Stay alert: a surprise snow storm is planned for the parade. Locally owned and operated S&S Foods of Cleveland is this year’s parade sponsor. Palisades Park

If Christmas lights are your thing, visit Palisades Park’s 19th annual Christmas Lights in the Park. The park will sparkle with displays decorated by businesses, churches, civic groups, and families.

The park is open to drive through each evening in December (except Christmas Eve and Christmas day) from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m. Admission is free, but donations are welcome.

The Palisades Park board will also host Santa in the Cottage at Palisades Park several nights during the Christmas Light Extravaganza: Fridays, Dec. 6, 13, and 21, Saturdays, Dec. 7, 14, and 21, and Sundays, Dec. 8, 15, and 22, from 5:30 p.m. until 9 p.m. Rickwood Caverns

Rickwood Caverns in Warrior has transformed the cave into an underground winter wonderland called Santa’s Underground Workshop. The cave is around 62 degrees year round, making it the perfect temperature to enjoy exploring.

Santa’s Underground Workshop is a self-guided tour that includes a mile walk into the cave and approximately 30 steps. The 110 steps at the end of the regular tour will not be included in Santa’s Underground Workshop tour; therefore, it will make the walk easier for anyone with mobility issues.

Santa’s Underground Workshop will be open daily through Dec. 30, from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. The caverns are closed Thursday, Nov. 28, and Dec. 24 through 26. The cost is $10 per person ages three and up.

Rickwood Caverns gift shop will also be decorated for the occasion and offers unique gifts, ornaments, snacks, and hot cocoa for purchase. There will also be movies playing, crafts, and Santa letters for the children to fill out at the nature center.

With all of the events scheduled across the county, get out and take the time to enjoy this wondrous season. There is something for everyone.