Tree lighting

Sylva kicked off the 2019 Christmas season with a three-day event, starting with the official tree lighting. The 2020 tree lighting event was virtual due to COVID-19.

By Kaylee Cook

Jackson County has three days of Christmas celebrations starting Friday to kick off the holiday season.

Sylva’s Christmas tree has gone up in the downtown fountain, and the official lighting is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday. The tree is a Fraser fir about 20-22 feet tall from the Dave Penn Tree Farm in Glenville. Two groups will perform.

“We’re having Wonderworks Studio’s Children’s Choir performing and Triple Threat is going to do a dance,” said Bernadette Peters, economic development director for the Main Street Sylva Association.

The annual Christmas Parade and float contest will take place at 3 p.m. Sunday. This year’s theme is “Down Home Christmas.” The parade begins at the Sylva Volunteer Fire Department and makes its way along West Main Street, toward the historic Courthouse, ending at Mark Watson Park. There will be about 50 floats created by a vast array of local groups and organizations.

“There will be anybody from the Blazing Skeletons on their motorcycles to churches like the Summit Church,” Peters said.

The floats will be judged by a panel of three judges – Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Director Julie Donaldson, Sylva Herald Editor Dave Russell and Jackson County Health Department Director Shelley Carraway.

We chose Shelley this year because our Grand Marshal is front line healthcare workers, which is a group of people rather than individuals,” Peters said. “We just wanted to honor them and how hard they’ve worked and the sacrifices they’ve made.” 

Traffic will be routed to Municipal Drive during the parade. Grindstaff Cove Road will be closed from the intersection of Old Dillsboro Road to Mill Street. West Main Street from Dillsboro will be closed at the intersection at Mark Watson Park. Traffic will be routed to Dillsboro Road and then to Grindstaff Cove Road. Road closures will start around 3 p.m.

Sylva’s Christmas parade began in the 1930s, according to Peters.

“We have parade photos from the 1930s and ‘40s, so it’s one of the oldest Christmas parades in the region,” Peters said.

The Jackson County Chamber of Commerce and Jackson County Parks and Recreation will host a Holiday Fireworks Display at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17.


Other events

Cashiers will hold its Christmas parade at 3 p.m. Saturday, with a theme of “Santa’s Favorite Christmas Characters.” The best place to watch the parade will be from the Cashiers Crossroads or a livestream can be found at

Post parade, there will be a party at the Village Green’s Commons Hall hosted by Cashiers Cares. There will be refreshments, treat bags and the opportunity for children to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus.

At 6 p.m. Saturday, local band Mountain Faith hosts a free concert at 138 Old Mater Farm Road, according to the Facebook page of band members Summer Brooke and Brayden McMahan.

“The old band will be back together! We are so excited to make some music for you all again!” the post read.

Kaylee Cook is a Sylva Herald intern.