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Sheriff Robbie Holland and about 10 other volunteers endured the cold morning air last Saturday morning to raise money for the annual “Shop with a Cop” program. The program enables public safety agencies from across the country to collaborate with community members in bringing an early Christmas to kids in need. Holland and the Macon County Sheriff’s Department began the program 14 years ago, with each year gaining more and more traction among supporters.

“We organized and got Wal-Mart to support whatever the auction raised, they would contribute and match it,” said Sheriff Holland. “We provided Christmas to 16 kids in the first year, and since then, it has grown and grown.

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In the last month of the year, houses are trimmed with twinkling lights, trees are covered in festive ornaments and traditional holiday music can be heard throughout the world. As people everywhere begin to celebrate the holiday season, one Jackson County woman has taken her love of the holidays to an all new level.

Renee Peoples, a Sylva resident and elementary school teacher in Swain County, decided to treat each day of December like Christmas, and what better way to show your holiday spirit, than to wear it on your sleeve ... literally.

On the urging of several friends and family members, Peoples started a blog on Facebook called “Crazy about Christmas” to document her holiday outfits, which change each day. 

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Boy scouts, girl scouts, puppy dogs and camels. Fire trucks, pickups, dancing dames and horses. Highlands Olde Mountain Christmas Parade this past Saturday had something for everyone, from Mayor David Wilkes leading the lineup, to Santa and Mrs. Claus bringing up the rear. The Thunderbird Club definitely had a presence, and, of course, in between the floats and the Highlands School Band, spectators were thrilled with the ever popular dancing ladies of the Mountain Garden Club as they kicked up their heels and even performed the can-can. Highlands United Methodist Church contributed to the authentic Christmas experience with real live camels and donkeys.

There’s something about the Highlands Christmas parade that warms the heart of those watching, even on a nippy December day.

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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.

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