By Dave Russell
Santa will socially distance, carriage rides won’t clip-clop the streets and shops will limit customers, but none of that will stop Dillsboro from becoming a “Hallmark town” this weekend and the next.
Hallmark is what folks ask for when they call Dillsboro town Clerk Debbie Coffey to ask about the 37th annual Lights & Luminaries.
Dillsboro will deliver, she said.
The street festival dates are Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 4 and 5, and 11 and 12.
“Come early to get a good parking space, but things don’t really crank up until about 5:30 or 6 p.m.,” Coffey said. “That’s when we start lighting the candles.”
Dillsboro merchants and volunteers will light about 2,500 luminaries lining the sidewalks and roads.
The shuttle service from the parking lot in Monteith Park to downtown will not run due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Coffey said.
“We will have additional lighting and security if people choose to park at Monteith Park and walk to town because we have that new sidewalk open on Dillsboro Road,” she said.
A fully restored 1949 Chevrolet truck parked at town hall will serve as Santa’s seat, as he greets kids and sends goodies down his “Gingerbread Shooter.”
“That way we can socially distance and keep Santa and the kids safe,” Coffey said.
A “magic mailbox” with special service directly to the North Pole is in place at town hall, Coffey said.
“If parents can make sure to have a legible return address for the child, Santa Claus will send them a postcard,” she said.
Matthew Dickerson, known as The Dulcimer Guy, will play Christmas music from about 6-8:30 p.m. this weekend from the porch of Western Carolina Properties. Local acoustic duo Twelfth Fret will jazz up the evenings on the second weekend, Coffey said.
Stores will most likely not serve hot chocolate and snacks this year.
“We’re leaving that up to the individual stores,” Coffey said. “All the stores, when they started the phased re-opening, they figured out what their capacity would be, and they will have that limit in place.”
“We welcome everyone and encourage everybody to wear a mask, social distance, and wash hands,” the Dillsboro Merchants Association said in a statement. “If you come out and enjoy the season with us in Dillsboro and your favorite store or restaurant is a bit crowded, give it some time and let the crowds thin out. We are all open until 9 p.m. and some of us are open until 10 p.m.”