Festival of Trees kicks off season at Gilmer’s Library

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ELLIJAY, Ga – Once again, the Gilmer County Library has opened its season for the Festival of Trees.

Lasting through most of December, until the twenty-second, the Festival is open for viewing for free on the library’s main floor. Library Manager Heath Lee tells FYN the 22 trees come from all over the county with trees from Stay Active Ellijay, Girls Scouts, Yaarabs Shrine Team 17, Walnut Mountain Garden Club, Toys for Tots and others. In addition, the library staff built their Elf banner to reading.

The Opening of the Festival, held Nov. 27, saw the Gilmer Jazz Cats and High School Chorus both headlining the night’s activities alongside “Make-and-Take” crafts with 4-H, a visit from Rackley the Reading Dog, a visit from Santa to speak with kids the entirety of the night, and refreshments while citizens viewed the trees. Lee estimated about 350 people attended the annual event.

The trees also host the Christmas season as the library will be presenting more events during the Festival. Lee was excited for key events like a visit from the Grinch to the library on Dec. 2. The Grinch will be there for kids and families. The Grinch will be hosting the families in their pajamas and “who-hair” for the event.

December 13 will see Christmas from all over the world visiting Ellijay through the use of VR (Virtual Reality) with Oculus Rift devices, The cultural experience program will allow visitors to virtually travel to countries all over the world to see how Christmas is celebrated. Learning local traditions and hearing legends of Santa will focus as the program will also allow families to make crafts to take home from the event as well.

Even more will be available throughout the month. Visit the Gilmer Library Calendar for more information and to plan the best time for your family to come see Gilmer’s Festival of Trees.

(Videos provided by Brandy Setser)

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Ellijay lights up with historic crowd

Community, News
First Baptist Church of Ellijay brought Bethlehem to Ellijay with a stroll through their market and a visit to a very familiar inn and manger.

First Baptist Church of Ellijay brought Bethlehem to Ellijay with a stroll through their market and a visit to a very familiar inn and manger.

ELLIJAY, Ga – Anyone watching social media for our local area on Friday saw part of the major crowds overfilling the downtown area for Light Up Ellijay.

In fact, the event grew so much over recent years, officials were forced to call in extra help to direct the crowd. The parade saw a minor delay to start as crowds spilled out into the street, having nowhere to stand. By the time of the tree lighting at 5:30 p.m., the crowd had deadlocked traffic with some even parking and stepping out of their vehicles for 30 seconds to watch the lighting.

Vendors set up onto Broad Street while First Baptist Church of Ellijay brought the town of Bethlehem to the area with a staged area in their rear parking lot. Hosting people in full costume, complete with Roman solders, basket weavers, shepherds and even an angel or two, the town brought the ancient times to life as visitors were even asked to sign the “census” upon entering the fenced area.

Citizens dressed up to celebrate the Whoville theme for this year's Light Up Ellijay.

Citizens dressed up to celebrate the Whoville theme for this year’s Light Up Ellijay.

Even more poured into the downtown boardwalk as the Grinch himself made an appearance for photos and children. Santa and Mrs. Claus met kids as well on the courthouse steps for photos before all of them retreated to Ellijay Elementary School to prepare for the parade.

The Grinch came as a part of this year’s Whoville theme. Citizens, visitors and parade walkers alike all dressed for the occasion, adding a whimsical look to the already decorated tree and town.

As time drew near for the night time festivities, those in the vendor area, Bethlehem and boardwalk all began moving towards the roundabout, forcing many to stand out in the street.

One family said they had set up their seats on the roundabout at 2:30 p.m. However, that family, and others, were disappointed as no one but the kids in front sat to watch the parade.  Some onlookers complained of the crowds saying they wouldn’t be returning next year. Others wouldn’t let the crowd dampen their spirits, instead welcoming them saying they have never seen the city so popular.

Crowds spilled into the roundabout causing traffic and space issues with an historic crowd downtown.

Crowds spilled into the roundabout causing traffic and space issues with an historic crowd downtown.

Indeed, so many people came downtown that extra hands like Gilmer County Public Safety Director Tony Pritchett voluntarily joined the city police to aid in crowd control. Although no official count could be made, estimates from city police officers soared from 10,000 to 15,000 people before the night had concluded. Festivities began around noon and continued late into the night with Abby’s Ice Cream and Frozen Yogurt hosting a dance party in their parking area immediately after the parade.

An overall amazing year brought the crowds out, but is also causing the city to retreat for meetings to respond. A number of people that downtown Ellijay has not experienced at one time during even the Apple Festival Weekends has called for officials to rethink plans for next year.

FYN has requested comments from officials on the night and Ellijay Chief of Police Edward Lacey has already agreed to speak with FYN once their meetings this week conclude.

Make sure to follow us over to our Facebook Album to see more Photos from Light Up Ellijay.

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Whoville is Returning to Ellijay!

Community

Downtown Ellijay will once again be transformed into Whoville this Holiday Season!
Join us on November 24 for a celebration even the Grinch can’t steal!
We plan to have vendors and will provide vendor information when it is available!
🎄The tree lighting on the square will be at 5:30 with the parade of whos at 6pm. 🎄
Parade applications will be provided soon.
There will be pictures with Santa and of course the Grinch!
Everyone is invited to dress in their best whoville costumes for the event!
Keep checking back for more details and added events and activities to come!
🎶da🎶who🎶door🎶ah let’s welcome Christmas in Ellijay!

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