By Bree Collar, Fannin Sentinel Staff Writer
Thousands flowed into downtown Blue Ridge this past weekend celebrating the 20th annual Light Up Blue Ridge festivities.
The annual kickoff celebration to the holiday season began Nov. 29 with Blue Friday where downtown merchants offered special discounts for the Christmas season along with entertainment and town wide caroling that started later in the evening.
Hosted by the Blue Ridge Business Association (BRBA), the Saturday events filled the town with Christmas cheer as Santa visited with guests throughout the day before preparing for the parade where an estimated 70 floats were involved.
Community members Shannon York and Troy Shirbroun helped lead the parade, introducing floats as made they made their way down East Main Street. “From everything I’ve heard most people said it was the best parade they’d seen so far.
I think we had more floats than we ever had before,” BRBA President Cesar Martinez said. The sixth annual gingerbread contest was also on display and will continue through Dec. 15 at the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association Art Center where visitors can participate in voting for the People’s Choice Award.
Parade Organizer Pam Fink said, “It was another great weekend now in the history books. A little rain did not dampen our holiday spirit.”
A unique aspect to the 20th annual celebration was honoring local historian and World War II Veteran Dale Dyer by having him lead the parade.
Eight years ago Dyer received a key to the city and this year a resolution declaring “Dale Dyer Day” was declared by Mayor Whitener. “Without Mr. Dyer there are a lot of things that we wouldn’t know about the history of our little city and our county,” Whitener said.
“His service to our country in WWII as an Army Air Corps pilot speaks volumes about his commitment to his fellow man as he encourages others to lead, whether in armed service or in his community,” she said. Quoting Mr. Dyer, Whitener said, “No one gets much done without the help of others.”
After two decades, the 2019 event was proof that through community partnerships and support, Light Up Blue Ridge will continue for years to come!