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Dillsboro welcomes students to WCU Night for Annual Lighting of the Luminaries

By Megan Hart
On December 5, 2012

  • Thousands of luminaries twinkle during Dillsboro’s festive weekend nights to celebrate the holidays. Mark Haskett

That time of year filled with unexpected gifts of joy and goodwill is drawing close with old and new traditions. Christmas is around the corner, along with the Annual Lighting of the Luminaries in Dillsboro event which is "scheduled to be on December 7-8 and 14-15," according to Julie Spiro, executive director of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce.

When she spoke about this event, Spiro mentioned, "This year there will be 2,500 luminaries" lit, filling up the night with a glow like no other in the town of Dillsboro. The lights will carve pathways for the visitors to spread out and explore Dillsboro's streets.

According to Spiro, merchants and shopkeepers are responsible for the incredible glow upon Dillsboro's streets each night the event takes place.

One of Western Carolina University's alum and Cullowhee weather guide Preston Jacobsen is doing his part by making snow appear. At the corner of Front and Webster Street, adults and children will get to enjoy Christmas snow being blown overhead. It will be provided by "Jacobsen's WHEE make snow company," stated Spiro.

The lighting of these memorable luminaries in Dillsboro is not just a traditional activity. Spiro expressed that it "infuses holiday spirit" among the town and gives an "economic boost to the town of Dillsboro and Sylva." The event also provides the town's people and visitors alike with "refreshments, carriage rides and a small-town Christmas feeling," said Spiro.

Spiro estimated that thousands of people come to visit and see the lights each year, enjoying the crafty shops while the "shopkeepers that night (WCU Night) will be offering specific discounts/give out free items to Western Carolina University students if they show their Cat Card." The refreshments include coffee, warm cider, hot chocolate and homemade goodies.

Debbie Coffey, Dillsboro's town clerk, talked about Santa Claus making a special appearance along with Mrs. Claus in the Town Hall. The identity of Santa this year is Mr. Foster, a pastor from Bryson City, along with Joanne Foster as Mrs. Claus, stated Coffey. She mentioned that "they are a package deal and are such sweet people."

Betty Farmer, a professor at Western Carolina and one of the Lead Coordinators of the event, discussed WCU Night on Friday, Dec. 7.

"Public relations students are promoting the event and organizing WCU Night's activities," said Farmer.

With enthusiasm, Farmer voiced her expectations on the event, "(I) hope that the Greek students will participate, and the student athletes will join in."

According to Farmer, students will find several free activities on WCU Night, including snow people/sculpture building and Local Yokel Weather's contribution of snow. There will be arts and crafts activities as well.

"Craft Corner at Claymates will provide face painting and decorating your own ornament for students," stated Farmer.

For students without transportation, a shuttle will be provided, making two round trips from Western Carolina's University Center to Dillsboro. The first trip leaves WCU at 5 p.m. then returns at 7:30 p.m. The second trip is from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., said Farmer.

According to Farmer, there will be a student raffle to win prizes during WCU Night.

"Santa will draw the winners at Town Hall, and students with Cat Cards can enter in the drawing for gift certificates at the shops in Dillsboro."

Lastly, she mentioned that more information will be sent to students' WCU email, inviting students and faculty before the event.


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