Franklin’s Main Street came alive last Friday as part of the Winter Wonderland festival, where folks of all ages came out to attend.
Starting at 5 p.m., holiday figures like Santa Claus, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and the Grinch roamed about downtown Franklin, amid countless Christmas lights, curbside luminaries and glowing window fronts. This year, the event was saved from the cold bite of winter-- something event organizer Linda Schlott said contributed to the overall success of the festival, as the temperature floated in the low fifties. Last year the event was held in freezing temperatures.
Yuletide carols were sung at the Gazebo downtown, while hot cider and holiday treats were given out by Main Street merchants. The holiday-time serenades were performed by the South Macon Elementary Chorus, the Arts Council and Men Macon Music.
At 5:30, following the holiday jingles of Men Macon Music, a special memorial service held by the American Cancer Society honored those affected by cancer with a prayer and the blessing of the Christmas tree on the Gazebo at the annual ‘Love Lights A Tree’ ceremony.
Along with the Gazebo performances, other attractions drew scores of festivalgoers.
Children got to know Roxy the miniature horse, who was giving rides to smiling youngsters, while visitors of all ages were able to get a tour of downtown Franklin in a mule-driven wagon, from Town Hall and looping around the downtown area.
Mr. and Mrs. Claus were also in front of the Macon County Historical Museum to hear the wish lists of droves of youngsters.
Perhaps the “coolest” attraction at the event was the highly anticipated 20 foot ice slide, brought by Asheville-based ice sculptor Ryan McCurdy, who along with his crew gave a live demonstration of how ice sculptures are created at 7 p.m.
“It's something for the kids to do,” said Franklin resident David Grindstaff, who brought his four children, along with his wife Tonia Grindstaff, to the festival to ride the slide. “We came last year and it was more busy but it was also colder.”
Although the slide was a favorite for her daughters, the highlight of Franklin woman Kristina Kemp’s night was seeing the Grinch. “I’m telling you I love that man,” she said.
“I thought it went well,” said Schlott on Tuesday. “It was very well attended. I saw people I don’t normally see downtown and that’s a good thing. The shop owners were happy, the kids were in the spirit... All in all it was a good night.”
Schlott added that it was difficult to estimate how many had attended this year, though she had heard some say it was a larger turnout than last year. “The weather was definitely better this year,” she added. “But we wanted to keep everything free to the public, especially because of how hard it is for some folks this time of year.”