WEST JEFFERSON — As the holiday season nears, hundreds of Ashe County residents and visitors lined the sidewalks of Jefferson Avenue for the West Jefferson Lions Club’s annual Holiday Parade Saturday, Nov. 16.
With more than 100 participants in this year’s parade, the crowd was treated to nearly two hours of holiday fun, including appearances from local elected officials, businesses, churches, marching bands, nonprofits and of course, Mr. Claus.
“It was as smooth as any we’ve ever done,” Gwynita Steele, Lions Club president and parade organizer, said.
West Jefferson Chief of Police Brad Jordan led the parade starting promptly at 3 p.m., followed behind by the Ashe County High School JROTC, Ashe County Sheriff B. Phil Howell, N.C. Rep. Ray Russell, state Sen. Deanna Ballard and U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx.
This year’s parade included four marching bands, including the award-winning ACHS Husky Vanguard, as well as a special appearance from WBTV news anchor John Carter, who served as the parade’s grand marshal. At the intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Main Street, Christmas tunes were played, which Steele said was a new addition for this year.
Steele said the Lions Club could not express enough gratitude for the West Jefferson police and fire departments for ensuring that the parade was as safe and functional as any she has ever seen.
“They did a great job,” Steele said.
Turnout for this year’s parade was also impressive, Steele added, saying that the crowd stretched from Hillbilly Grill down to Ashe County Ford.
“I thought it was a great turnout,” Steele said.
The theme for this year was “Christmas in the High Country,” she added.
Divine Hope Baptist Church’s float, featuring a bible verse, crosses and a mountain cabin, won best interpretation of the parade theme. Dancin’ Debbies won best youth float, and Keep Ashe Beautiful earned first place in best civic entry.
“It’s a community service that the Lions Club provides for the town and for Ashe County,” Steele said.
West Jefferson Light Up the TownFollowing the parade, a crowd of a few dozen people gathered on the porch of The Hotel Tavern at 5:30 p.m. for the West Jefferson Business Association’s Light Up the Town event, sponsored in partnership with SkyLine/SkyBest.
“We’re glad that you’re here for our sixth annual Light Up the Town,” said Edward Hinson, executive director of sales and marketing at SkyLine/SkyBest. “It’s just one of our most fun times of the year when the community can come together and light up the town, literally and figuratively, with our Christmas lights.”
After a countdown, Hinson and WJBA President Crystal Miller flipped the oversized light switch, illuminating Christmas lights located around Backstreet Park. Free hot chocolate and photos of Captain America and Spider-Man were offered throughout the evening.
More photos from the Lions Club Holiday Parade can be found within this edition of Ashe Post & Times.