Jackson County Library decorations

If you feel as if you’ve stepped into a Norman Rockwell Christmas painting this weekend in Sylva … well, that means the organizers of “Christmas in Sylva – A Holiday Weekend” would have achieved their goal.

Christmas is going big downtown this year, thanks to the inaugural three-day holiday gala sponsored by the Town of Sylva, Main Street Sylva Association and the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

The event kicks off Friday with an official tree lighting and concert on the steps of the Jackson County Library.

The switch to light the tree will be thrown by Dana Smith, who was the winner of a raffle sponsored by the downtown association. Smith also won a set of four tickets for Greenville Swamp Rabbits hockey, with luxury box seats. The second-place winner was Tracy Fitzmaurice, who will receive tickets and a gift basket filled with goodies from local merchants; third place winner Chad Gerrety will also receive a gift basket. As luminaires light up Main and Mill streets, a concert of holiday music with Western Carolina University’s choral group, WCU’s concert choir and local musician Geoff McBride kicks off at 7 p.m. The tree lighting should take place at about 7:25 p.m. The event will last around 45 minutes, wrapping up with a singalong of “Let There Be Peace On Earth.”

The festivities continue on Saturday with a Winter Market recreating the feel of a traditional German Christmas market set from noon to 5 p.m. in the parking lot at Main and Landis streets. The market will feature local crafts and food, an opportunity for Christmas shopping downtown and children’s photos with Santa at Sassy Frass Consignment from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. There will be luminaries on Main and Mill streets after dark.

The weekend wraps up Sunday with the annual Sylva Christmas Parade, kicking off at 2 p.m. on Main Street. This year’s theme is “Christmas Around the World.” Fifty or more floats and groups will be featured.

There are several changes for the parade this year. The route will be in the opposite direction of what has been used for several years. It will start at Mark Watson Park and end at the Sylva Fire Department. Walkers will turn onto Mill Street rather than continuing to the Fire Department. Also, parking and traffic will be prohibited on Main Street starting at 1 p.m.

Traffic will be detoured on Municipal Drive and Dillsboro Road during the parade. Jackson Street will be used as a detour prior to the parade. This year’s grand marshal is Dan Schaeffer, Sylva’s retiring director of public works.