Naughty or nice? Santa is counting down the days

Fred McCormick Paul Clark
Black Mountain News
Santa will be posing for photos at the Monte Vista Hotel from 4:30-6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 4. The cost is $10, half of which local photographer Ray Mata is donating to Deck the Trees, an exhibition at the hotel that benefits Swannanoa Valley Christian Ministry.

The “Miracles of Christmas” is the theme of the Christmas Parade this year, held Saturday, Dec. 2 after hundreds of people make their way downtown for the annual event presented by the Black Mountain-Swannanoa Chamber of Commerce.

Leading the way will be Montreat College assistant track and field coach Britten Olinger, the grand marshal who nine months survived a terrifying crash in the center of town that nearly claimed his life.

Olinger's story inspired the parade theme this year, according to Bob McMurray, the executive director of the chamber. “We believe his surviving that ordeal was a miracle," McMurray said.

The theme is broad enough so that the more than 100 parade participants can find a way to work it into their makeshift floats. “The miracles of Christmas can be anything from Santa Claus going up a chimney to the birth of baby Jesus,” McMurray said. “And plenty in between.”

Participants will gather at Tractor Supply on Old U.S. 70 prior to the parade, which begins at 4 p.m. The procession will travel west and end at Cragmont Road. The chamber will award first-, second- and third-place ribbons for the best entries, McMurray said.

The parade is just one of the holiday festivities taking place on one of the busiest weekends of the year for the chamber. This year, at 10 a.m. Dec. 2 in front of the visitor center, the chamber will hold its annual silent auction for rocking chairs that have been displayed throughout the central business district this summer.

The day before, on Friday, Dec. 1, Holly Jolly - another chamber event - returns. Businesses downtown will remain open from 5-9 p.m. to welcome revelers (and shoppers). “For a lot of our residents this is their main trip into town for the year,” McMurray said.

The Owen Marching Band will kick off the festivities with a march down Cherry Street. Santa will be available for pictures at the Old Depot, and musical performances will be held at the intersection of Cherry Street and Sutton Avenue.

Here's your march-into-December rundown of holiday events, most of which were listed in more detail in last week's Black Mountain News. All events are free unless otherwise noted.

  • Dec. 1: Free photos with Santa, 3-4:30 p.m., White Insurance Agency
  • Dec. 1: Holly Jolly celebration, 5-9 p.m. downtown Black Mountain
  • Dec. 1: Pottery Market, 5-9 p.m., Black Mountain Center for the Arts Clay Studio
  • Dec. 1–31: Deck the Trees, The Monte Vista Hotel
  • Dec. 2: Rocking chair silent auction and open house, 10 a.m.-noon, Visitor Center
  • Dec. 2: Christmas Parade, 4 p.m., downtown Black Mountain
  • Dec. 2: Circle of Lights, 5-7 p.m., Lake Tomahawk
  • Dec. 2: Storytelling performance, 7:30-9 p.m., Black Mountain Center for the Arts. $15 advance, $20 door
  • Dec. 2: Montreat College Christmas Concert, 7-8:30 p.m., Anderson Auditorium
  • Dec. 4: Photos with Santa, 4:30-6:30 p.m., Monte Vista Hotel, $10
  • Dec. 7: Christmas parade, 3:30 p.m., Black Mountain Neuro-Medical Treatment Center
  • Dec. 9: Owen Middle School Holiday Craft Fair, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., school gym 
  • Dec. 10: Sue Richards harp concert, 2 p.m., Black Mountain Center for the Arts, $10
  • Dec. 15: Free photos with Santa, 10-11:30 a.m., White Insurance Agency
  • Dec. 15–16, 22-23: “It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show,” 7:30 p.m., Black Mountain Center for the Arts, $20
  • Dec. 17: "A Child’s Christmas in Wales,"  – 2 p.m., Black Mountain Center for the Arts, donations accepted
Montreat College assistant track coach Britten Olinger, in back, is grand marshal of the Black Mountain Christmas parade. He's seen here at home with wife Samantha, Kolbie (center) and new baby Easton Olinger.