Asheville Downtown Lights

by D. Lanier Shook                      December 3, 2019

Santa and Mrs Claus arrived on Pack Square in a 59 Oldsmobile 88. Then, being a gentleman, he held the door as she got out. The celebrity couple was arriving for the Asheville Downtown Association’s Local Lights.


This is a 1959 Oldsmobile 88 that Santa brought his bride to Pack Square in.


Santa relied on Asheville Date Night Ride for the 59 Olds. Only the best for Mrs. Claus.

One week ago I was standing on Pack Square with a stiff wind blowing and an hour later a light mist would be falling that would quickly grow to a heavier mist. It was the Asheville Downtown Association’s Holiday Lights which drew a huge crowd and foreshadows similar events in other communities all over the nation, which is why I went and why I’m telling you about it. These events are great opportunities to celebrate the Season with family and neighbors.

By 10 minutes till crowds were gathered in the Square with even more huddled inside the French Broad Chocolate Lounge. Meanwhile Mr and Mrs Claus passed the time discussing the elf roster and making last minute wardrobe adjustments while Run Run Rudolph played in the background. The wind was still cold, but the mist held off.

Of course this is Asheville, so there was a table in front of the Biltmore Company headquarters with Tristan Winkler and the fine folks from the French Broad River Metropolitan Planning Organization sharing their message with passersby.

Then, just before 6 the police cleared the crowd and shifted the barricades so the LEAF Easel Rider could pass through, full of mobile crafts for the little event arrivals.


By 6 pm little ones had gathered in a line that was slowly stretching down toward City Hall. They stayed pretty much in order, although it looked like a few had been over to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge and enjoyed some of the awesome hot chocolate. But not all of the little ones with wish lists just had two legs.

These four legged attendees weren’t disappointed by the celebrity couple and were able to pass along their holiday wishes.

The next hour was a constant repetition that was so cute it wasn’t repetitive in the least. The little ones and their family would arrive at the head of the line and then they would sit on Santa and Mrs. Claus’ laps while their pictures were taken. Many of the little ones were dressed in pajamas or other holiday attire and more often than not the family would pose behind the Claus’ chairs.

Most of the those waiting to see Santa couldn’t buy a coffee without a legal guardian present, but many were in middle school or older. A few adolescents were there and one guy was there continuing a tradition he’d begun in 1958. Most of the children were thrilled to see Santa and Mrs. Claus, but several seems overawed by the celebrity and just stared in open mouthed wonder. And of course one or two were completely overwhelmed by the event and burst into tears.

Once the photos were taken the elves kept the line moving to the table where hot chocolate and cookies could be purchased. There was also a elf doing face painting and of course the LEAF Easel Rider mobile studio was a very popular stop. Holiday music was also playing and the  Oldsmobile had come back, with most of the adults drooling over it and adding it to their wishlist.

By the end of the evening the mist had grown heavier and umbrellas were beginning to appear. By 7 pm everyone gathered around the other side of the giant star and were led by Mrs. Claus in Jingle Bells before counting down to the Christmas Lights coming on.  It was the culmination of an amazing evening that everyone seemed to enjoy.

If you enjoyed reading this, or attending the event, or just like the idea of the City of Asheville having awesome holiday events like this, then you need to thank the following sponsors. So here’s a list of folks who supported and organized the event.

But I also want to mention the sponsors of the LEAF Easel Rider mobile studio which so many event goers enjoyed. Here are the folks who made that possible.

And finally I have to mention which provides the perfect date night solution. You just book them and they provide everything else. A ride, dinner, music, a tour of Asheville, and even a romantic setting for your date. Did I mention they’ve got some sweet cars?

In conclusion, if you’ve enjoyed reading about this event check and see what your community has coming up, not just during Christmas but during the entire year. While the holiday season is a great time to make memories and friends, communities all over the area spend all year putting together events to bring together their residents and visitors.

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