HIAWASSEE, Ga – Christmas starts this weekend for Towns County with several of the area’s big events starting on Friday and Saturday.
Mountain County Christmas in Lights began November 26 and runs through December 26 at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Ga. It’s open every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 6:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. The event is an immersive light show with Christmas music, arts and crafts vendors, food, hot chocolate, and pictures with Santa. Those under 12 are free and 12 and older must pay $6.
This year the event features an expanded outdoor craft show which opens from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday. Cowtown is a new activity for 2020 where children can learn how to make butter, ice cream, and soap.
Christmas Parade is on Saturday, November 28 at 6:00 p.m. The Towns County Sheriff’s Office sponsors the event and this year’s theme is “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” The parade route begins in the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds parking lot and ends at South State Bank. Everyone’s encouraged to bring their candy buckets, chairs, and enjoy the twinkling lights and floats.
The Brasstown Holiday Show starts on Friday, November 27 at 1:00 p.m. and lasts until Sunday, November 29 at 3:30 p.m. It’s an indoor arts and crafts show.
Southeast Tourism Society recognizes Mountain Country Christmas in Lights and Brasstown Holiday Show as Top 20 events. The society identifies the best tourist attractions in Alabama, Arkansas, The District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.
To wrap up the holiday season, Brasstown Resort is hosting a 2021 New Year’s Eve Gala. The party alone costs $299 per couple including taxes and gratuities. The guest room package is $659 with upgrade options available.
The open bar begins at 7:30 p.m. with a gourmet buffet from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Music and dancing will take place throughout the evening and a ball drop at midnight. The event is formal attire and attendees must be 21 or older.
Check out the holiday events in Blairsville, here.
Blue Ridge, Ga. – In an unanimous vote the Blue Ridge City Council decided that any special events within the city limits will be canceled until further notice. This includes the cancelation of Blue Ridge’s Halloween SafeZone and Light Up Blue Ridge.
Discussion of canceling future events for the remainder of the year had previously taken place among council but no official vote had been made on the matter.
“We need to make it official,” Council member Rhonda Haight spoke, referencing that since their previous discussion special events had been permitted to take place: “I felt like we should have voted last time.”
Mayor Donna Whitener expressed that she didn’t fully agree with the idea of canceling all events with no exceptions and pointed out that the recent prayer vigil held for Blue Ridge Chief of Police Johnny Scearce would technically fall under the special event category.
Haight made the motion of “no more events allowed until further notice”, which carried without opposition.
Although the Halloween SafeZone has been canceled an alternative has been set up according to Cesar Martinez, President of the Blue Ridge Business Association (BRBA).
“We get 5,000 or 6,000 people downtown and we just can’t do it this year,” Martinez said and noted that state guidelines would just not make it feasible for the city to accommodate.
The BRBA will be partnering with Blue Ridge United Methodist Church to offer a drive thru option for families to enjoy. Booths will be set up along this route, where participants can hand out candy.
Other locations that are offering Halloween festivities include Dairy Queen, Home Depot, and Kevin Panter Insurance Agency.
Light Up Blue Ridge will also not take place in an official manner. Festivities of the weekend that draw a large crowd in close proximity have been called off. This includes the annual parade and the lighting of the tree.
Even with these changes, Blue Ridge plans to make the city Christmas ready for those visiting the weekend following Thanksgiving.
The tree will be lit in the park but without the lighting ceremony and Santa can still be found at the park’s gazebo but with safety precautions made due to the ongoing Covid-19 risk.
“We are suggesting that the city close East Main Street for the two days after Thanksgiving,” Martinez recommended to the council stating that this would give more room for the large crowds to social distance that weekend.
No official plans were made on how to handle the influx of visitors for the weekend following Thanksgiving, but discussions are expected to continue in future meetings.
Has anyone ever thought of the fact that most of our Christmas songs and traditions are only
about 75 or so years old? Doesn’t it seem like this array has just always been there, always been
Well, it hasn’t always been so joyous and celebrated as it came to be after World War II.
Why is that?
Prior to the victory of the Allies and their return to home and family, Christmas was more
reserved and localized. Songs such as The Messiah and other religious hymns were in place, but
jolly and more secular songs came along with popular movies, such as White Christmas and
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, among others were the result of a desire to make the
Christmas holiday a very special time for families and friends.
Dad, brother, uncle, son and military women etc. had faced the horror of war, with its death and
destruction. There were sights that they could never unsee. Those who were able to return home,
to their wives, husbands, sweethearts and families, wanted to erase those thoughts to the best of
their ability. They had fought pure, unadulterated evil and had won. It seemed their intention to
eradicate such influences in the years to come.
Many of our Greatest Generation put a great deal of time and effort into making the world as
right as possible, to bring as much joy as possible to those they loved. Not only did they save the
world, they saved the best part of themselves and shared that desire for happiness and perfection
with the making of happy stories, happy songs and familiar bliss. No one can argue that the
generation of the 40s and 50’s worked very hard to create as much perfection in society as they
could. It was a halcyon time that, unfortunately, will never be repeated.
Television and movies had their morality department and strived to show family life as a
network of love, discipline and happy endings. Father always knew best and the Donna Reed
show lauded the middle-class family life.
What has happened to society that it has come from the pure entertainment of those shows to
today’s reality television, moral corruption and disdain of most things that relate to God and
In 1965, a wonderful radio announcer named Paul Harvey made an amazing prophecy on his
weekly show. The title was, If I was the devil.
Anyone who hasn’t heard or read this far-reaching piece that has come to pass in ways that no
one would have guessed. One of his lines quoted from the transcript is “If I were the devil, I
would make the symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.”
How close is that? He had it nailed and 54 years later, it is true.
Christmas was still reverent in the 70s, and the 80s. People dressed up, had parties, visited with
family and it was a happy time. God was still the Man in Charge in the White House (mostly)
and it reflected on the nation.
The 90s brought us the Clintons and their version of “morality” and the great decline began for
Now in 2019, there are fewer parties, fewer gathering of family and friends than ever. Christmas
cards are not a thing anymore, just send a generic online greeting.
People are well engrossed in their electronic devices. Social life and the moral pressure of
society is long gone. Stores decorate for Christmas in August and begin the big sale that lasts
until well after the New Year.
Retailers completely pass over Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday from the Pilgrim
days when living through the winter to harvest was an occasion for thanking Almighty God.
Even Charlie Brown and his gang in Peanuts, when it aired in 1965, complained of the
commercialization of Christmas, lamenting the lack of meaning for monetary gain.
When Christmas songs from the 70s and 80s are played, it is depressing almost to the point of
tears when a comparison is made of the warm, loving, wonderful time of those decades to
today’s commercial apathy.
Maybe, this is an “old folks’ rant about the good old days, but what can be gleaned from today’s
lukewarm electronic holiday?
America has best go back to Ronald Reagan and remember his line:
“If we ever forget we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
If Christians don’t stand up and fight for our basic joys of the Lord, His sacrifice for us
and the right to celebrate such, these rights will be taken away by the Liberal Left with
their Atheistic and destructive ways. There are no more free countries to find with such
liberties as we enjoy. They must not be lost, as they will never be found again.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – The Gilmer County Board of Commissioners are calling for one last meeting in 2019.
Next week will see a special called meeting for the board, but it will come two days before Christmas Day. The schedule sets the meeting to begin at 8:30 a.m. on the morning of December 23, 2019.
While the meeting agenda is set with only three items, it almost got bigger last week with the Board of Commissioners looking to add a few items tabled from their regular meeting.
With Public Works Director Jim Smith returning to the meetings after taking personal time, the Commissioners had originally tabled the Concrete Bid agenda item from November. Commission Chairman Charlie Paris asked to table the bid again until this meeting on December 23 to give Smith more time to analyze the bids. However, taking time as the meeting progressed Smith worked on the bid submissions to make sure to give the board an answer. The board wound up awarding the bid in the meeting and cancelling its addition to this meeting.
However, the meetings’ second addition did not get canceled as new information is arising from the agenda item to consider possible action to rent Airport space to the Georgia Forestry Commission. The board is taking extra time to investigate issues with the Forestry Commission’s previous rental space in Pickens and agreement details.
The meeting will go forward with three agenda items;
1.Discussion and possible action to rent Airport space to the Georgia Forestry Commission
2. Discussion and possible action on approval of an MOU with SORBA/IMBA
3. Resolution to Adopt the 2020 Budget.
Thanksgiving 2018 has come and gone and about all we really know about it comes from
commercial sources. Through the constant drumming of the media we are basically told all we
need to know about Thanksgiving, when to start, when to stop and, by the way, ‘don’t forget
those great deals on Black Friday’ because, well, Christmas is just around the corner and after
all, America’s economy depends on commercialism. Their point is, It’s okay to go into debt but
don’t eat the Romaine lettuce. Is it who we really are? Apparently!
But this year I sense a distinct change in the atmosphere. I’ve heard more detailed explanations
of the real Pilgrims story at Plymouth, Mass. in attempts to correct the re-written history some
elements in our society want us to accept. I feel a perceptible shifting of moral values going on
and I sense a not so subtle shift back to religious faith especially as the destructive tenants of
Islam are flooding our country. The leadership of our churches, long beaten into compliance to
accept the dictates of a secular society, must return to their mission of spreading the gospel and
abandon the demand that we must accept the perverted deviancy of 1% of our population that
demands acceptance, without consequence.
What Americans know about Christmas is mostly suggested to us by the years of Macy’s Day
parades, Hollywood movies and Coca-Cola. TV quickly changed our values. Decades ago,
Coca-Cola embraced Clement Moore’s poem, A Christmas Carol, “Twas the Night Before
Christmas” and lo, we now have an indisputably accepted short, fat, happy ol’ elf who enters
homes down chimney pipes, never gets dirty and enjoys their product while winking at us.
When I was a little boy, a world war was underway yet the traditions of Christmas, and even
then they were commercial, were anticipated and observed. We decorated Christmas trees, had
special seasonal attractions and attended Church programs singing hymns while we little
children read or recited memorized snippets of scripture to the audience. I recall my surprise
upon learning that even Germans soldiers observed Christmas, indeed was responsible for
introducing the Christmas tree as a tradition. And, they sang “Silent Night.” What a revelation.
Among the big traditions were Christmas cards. My mother saved Christmas cards for years
and she gave them out in profuse qualities herself. Those that came to me, mostly from mothers
friends and sisters, were scenes depicted as cartoons. Family cards were actually incredible
works of art depicting scenes of happy home fires or snow, doubtless of a Victorian England, the
country where greeting cards and Santa Clause were introduced as a tradition.
Until Coca Cola’s depiction, St. Nick was tall and skinny, a poor emaciated figure, hungry
looking with a limp bag hanging over his shoulder. None of that has changed except Santa’s
size, but I am sensing once again, with Christmas day still weeks away, a change in the public
attitude, a realization that a prosperous America is returning even with all its social problems of
drug addictions, homelessness and hunger. I feel a sincere longing to return to our old traditions
where good cheer and happiness are not feigned but heartfelt; where charity is freely given
without conditions and people actually enjoy helping other people.
But, we must be careful and not allow the Left to peculate our good thing and introduce social
changes we know to be destructive to a free peoples. Government in the hands of Progressives,
will sweep all that away and the once shining city on the hill idea, as Ronald Reagan coined it,
will be but a footnote in history. We must strive to preserve all of our God given liberties.
Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (29Nov18)
By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent
In my opinion, there is nothing like a fresh Christmas tree in the home. Artificial trees look more
natural now than when I was growing up, but they are not the same. Choosing a fresh tree
should be a fun family affair, but you also want to get the best value for your money.
So let’s start with how to select a fresh tree. First, determine where in your home you will
display your tree so that you will be able to tell what size and shape you need. Next, if possible,
cut the tree yourself. This will provide the best opportunity to have a fresh tree throughout the
Christmas season, but you still need to care for it like you would any other “live” tree. If you are
choosing a pre-cut tree, you need to do a freshness test on it before you bring it home so hold a
branch about 6 inches from the tip then pull your hand toward the tip, allowing the branch to slip
through your fingers. Very few green needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
Here’s another freshness test: lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down
abruptly on the stump end. If the tree is fresh, outside green needles should not fall off in
substantial numbers. Remember, inside needles do turn brown and shed naturally every year.
Now let’s look at how to care for a fresh tree. The most important thing to remember has to do
with water. These trees need water daily, just like a fresh bouquet of flowers. You’ll want to
remember to keep plenty of water in the stand at all times. If you are choosing a stand, be sure
and choose one that has a big water storage area. A Christmas tree may absorb a gallon of water
in the first 24 hours it’s up and between two pints to a gallon of water a day thereafter. Check
the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed. If the water supply runs out, a seal will form
on the cut surface of the tree trunk and the tree will not absorb water and dry out. If the water
runs out, a new cut should be made.
When a tree is first cut, a seal of sap occurs naturally over its stump which keeps moisture in the
tree. It’s important to break that seal to allow the tree to take up water needed to keep it fresh
throughout the holidays. Once you’ve selected your tree and you have it at home, make a fresh
cut across the base of the trunk, ¼ inch up from the original cut. Put it in a bucket of water and
protected from the sun and wind until you get ready to move it indoors. If you are selecting a
balled and burlap tree, first make sure that the tree will grow in our area and second do not let the
root ball dry out as the tree will not survive when planted outside.
When you do bring the tree indoors, position it away from heat sources such as fireplaces,
radiators, heat vents, and television sets. When it’s time to put the lights on and trim the tree,
first test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they are
in good working condition, without cracked insulation or broken sockets, and make sure all the
sockets are filled. Once you get the lights on, then it’s time to finish trimming and enjoy, but
don’t forget to unplug the lights when you go to bed or leave home. Never leave a tree with the
lights on unattended!
For more information, contact me at the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. It is also one of the most giving times as well. People open their hearts and their wallets to help worthy causes and most are legit. When making a decision on which charity to donate to, most people consider the “efficiency” of the organization. What percentage of the monies received by the charity goes to funding its mission verses other costs such as fundraising activities, salaries, and other overhead. When giving to a non-profit you can always check its financials, which are required by law to be available, see below:
Tax-exempt organizations must make annual returns and exemption applications filed with the IRS available for public inspection and copying upon request. In addition, the IRS makes these documents available. The questions below relate to the public disclosure and availability of documents filed by tax-exempt organizations with the IRS.
There are several ways you can check out the charity but the most direct way is to ask for a copy of its financials so you can determine if your money is actually being used in the way you believe when you give. There are sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar which are very helpful in showing you what percentage of your giving goes to support the mission, as opposed to administrative expenses. Some nonprofits have a large overhead, but according to the charity ratings site, if they are spending more than 33.3% of their total budget on overhead, the organization is not meeting its mission. However if your “cause” or “local charity” is not listed we suggest you request the disclosure from your choice of giving and make sure your money is helping the cause you desire.
FYN will be taking a look at some of our local charities and letting you know what we find. Giving is great but it is always a good idea to make sure of how the money is actually being used.