With snow in the forecast, Holly Jolly goes off without a hitch

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News

A snowy forecast did little to dampen the spirits in downtown Black Mountain on Dec. 7, for the return of Holly Jolly. 

Hours after the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce announced that the Christmas Parade, originally set for Dec. 8, would be pushed back a week, the community prepared for the annual holiday celebration on Cherry Street and Sutton Avenue.

The Owen High School Marching Band performs on Cherry Street during Holly Jolly on Dec. 7.

With snow expected to move in early Saturday, chamber executive director Bob McMurray announced Friday that the parade would be moved to 2 p.m. Dec. 15. Holly Jolly was held as planned. 

"We have great weather tonight," McMurray said during event. "Obviously it's supposed to change over tomorrow, which forced us to move the parade, but this is a perfect night for Holly Jolly."

Kickoff for a good cause

On Black Mountain Avenue, Design Driven Studio kicked off a fundraiser for Swannanoa Valley nonprofit Bounty & Soul, which creates awareness about health and wellness in the community. The organization educates clients on the importance of diet and provides free healthy food in its weekly markets. 

Corinne Bello, who owns Design Driven Studio with husband Jose, is hosting an art show through December. Around 30 artists submitted work for the exhibit, which features works made mostly of repurposed materials. 

"We ask that people vote for their favorite piece by putting money in the gift box with corresponding number," Bello said. "Bounty & Soul is an awesome organization and we're honored to help spread the word about what they do."

Minutes before Holly Jolly kicks off on Dec. 7, Greg Garrison prepares to open The Hop Black Mountain for the first time.

The art featured in the show is available for purchase, but every piece must stay up until the show is over. The proceeds will be donated to Bounty & Soul. 

Just minutes before Holly Jolly kicked off, The Hop Black Mountain prepared to open its doors for the first time, just weeks after Greg and Ashley Garrison purchased the Sweet! on Cherry Street from former owners Walt and Sydney McDougald. 

A busy night for businesses

South of The Hop on Cherry Street, BAD Craft prepared for its "first real Holly Jolly," said owner Randy Giles. 

"Last year I didn't have my beer permit and only had a tiny bit of art," said the owner of the shop that offers craft beer and locally made art and desserts. "We could only give out free samples and some peanut butter pie that my son and I made."

Minutes before Holly Jolly gets underway, Kelly Ann Madden gets ready for a busy night at BAD Craft on Cherry Street.

A year later, BAD Craft features work from "at least 20 different artists," multiple desserts, 50 cans of beers and six on tap. The store also has an employee, Kelly Ann Madden, who was preparing to work her first Holly Jolly.

"I've attended Holly Jolly in the past, but I've never worked during Holly Jolly," she said. "We're both here because it should be pretty busy."

Less than 30 minutes after Holly Jolly began, BAD Craft was full. 

The Town Pump Tavern was also busy in the early hours of the celebration, but bartender Julia Rooks was anticipating a much busier night. 

A group of children prepare to watch a performance by dancers from the Black Mountain Center for the Arts during Holly Jolly on Dec. 7.

"This is probably my third year working during Holly Jolly," Rooks said. "It gets pretty busy; I have a picture from last year of me with like seven or eight people dressed up as Santa. The later it gets the more people show up."

David Bryan has been to nearly every Holly Jolly since he moved here around 15 years ago. 

"The festive atmosphere," he said when asked what keeps him coming back to the event every year. "Everybody comes out, and they're in a good mood and there is a lot of Christmas spirit. It's a good time every year."

The Holly Jolly experience for Owen High School junior David Shepard was a unique one. He volunteered to assist with traffic control. 

Owen High School junior David Shepard directs traffic during Holly Jolly on Dec. 7.

"I like to spend my time in the community helping out when I can," he said. "When I have the time I try to volunteer and do what I can."

Shepard was one of the 250-plus volunteers who helped construct a playground at Black Mountain Primary School. 

"Any event going on in Black Mountain, JROTC is typically there and I'm usually involved through that program," he said.

Holiday revelers were treated to a holiday performance by the Owen High School Marching Band, which marched up and down Cherry Street. Dancers from the school were joined by their younger counterparts from the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, as they entertained onlookers with performances near the Old Depot. Santa Claus met with local children nearby. 

"Every year this event showcases some of the best of what this town has to offer," McMurray said. "I'm glad we were able to do it all this year before all of the snow comes in."