Christmas kicks off in Towns County

Towns County Christmas lights

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Christmas starts this weekend for Towns County with several of the area’s big events starting on Friday and Saturday.

Mountain County Christmas in Lights began November 26 and runs through December 26 at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee, Ga. It’s open every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 6:00 p.m. till 9:00 p.m. The event is an immersive light show with Christmas music, arts and crafts vendors, food, hot chocolate, and pictures with Santa. Those under 12 are free and 12 and older must pay $6.

This year the event features an expanded outdoor craft show which opens from 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Saturday. Cowtown is a new activity for 2020 where children can learn how to make butter, ice cream, and soap.

Christmas Parade is on Saturday, November 28 at 6:00 p.m. The Towns County Sheriff’s Office sponsors the event and this year’s theme is “Rocking Around the Christmas Tree.” The parade route begins in the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds parking lot and ends at South State Bank. Everyone’s encouraged to bring their candy buckets, chairs, and enjoy the twinkling lights and floats.

The Brasstown Holiday Show starts on Friday, November 27 at 1:00 p.m. and lasts until Sunday, November 29 at 3:30 p.m. It’s an indoor arts and crafts show.

Southeast Tourism Society recognizes Mountain Country Christmas in Lights and Brasstown Holiday Show as Top 20 events.  The society identifies the best tourist attractions in Alabama, Arkansas, The District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia.

To wrap up the holiday season, Brasstown Resort is hosting a 2021 New Year’s Eve Gala. The party alone costs $299 per couple including taxes and gratuities. The guest room package is $659 with upgrade options available.

The open bar begins at 7:30 p.m. with a gourmet buffet from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Music and dancing will take place throughout the evening and a ball drop at midnight. The event is formal attire and attendees must be 21 or older.

Check out the holiday events in Blairsville, here.



Has anyone ever thought of the fact that most of our Christmas songs and traditions are only
about 75 or so years old? Doesn’t it seem like this array has just always been there, always been
that way?

Well, it hasn’t always been so joyous and celebrated as it came to be after World War II.
Why is that?

Prior to the victory of the Allies and their return to home and family, Christmas was more
reserved and localized. Songs such as The Messiah and other religious hymns were in place, but
jolly and more secular songs came along with popular movies, such as White Christmas and
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, among others were the result of a desire to make the
Christmas holiday a very special time for families and friends.

Dad, brother, uncle, son and military women etc. had faced the horror of war, with its death and
destruction. There were sights that they could never unsee. Those who were able to return home,
to their wives, husbands, sweethearts and families, wanted to erase those thoughts to the best of
their ability. They had fought pure, unadulterated evil and had won. It seemed their intention to
eradicate such influences in the years to come.

Many of our Greatest Generation put a great deal of time and effort into making the world as
right as possible, to bring as much joy as possible to those they loved. Not only did they save the
world, they saved the best part of themselves and shared that desire for happiness and perfection
with the making of happy stories, happy songs and familiar bliss. No one can argue that the
generation of the 40s and 50’s worked very hard to create as much perfection in society as they
could. It was a halcyon time that, unfortunately, will never be repeated.

Television and movies had their morality department and strived to show family life as a
network of love, discipline and happy endings. Father always knew best and the Donna Reed
show lauded the middle-class family life.

What has happened to society that it has come from the pure entertainment of those shows to
today’s reality television, moral corruption and disdain of most things that relate to God and

In 1965, a wonderful radio announcer named Paul Harvey made an amazing prophecy on his
weekly show. The title was, If I was the devil.

Anyone who hasn’t heard or read this far-reaching piece that has come to pass in ways that no
one would have guessed. One of his lines quoted from the transcript is “If I were the devil, I
would make the symbol of Easter an egg and the symbol of Christmas a bottle.”
How close is that? He had it nailed and 54 years later, it is true.

Christmas was still reverent in the 70s, and the 80s. People dressed up, had parties, visited with
family and it was a happy time. God was still the Man in Charge in the White House (mostly)
and it reflected on the nation.

The 90s brought us the Clintons and their version of “morality” and the great decline began for

Now in 2019, there are fewer parties, fewer gathering of family and friends than ever. Christmas
cards are not a thing anymore, just send a generic online greeting.

People are well engrossed in their electronic devices. Social life and the moral pressure of
society is long gone. Stores decorate for Christmas in August and begin the big sale that lasts
until well after the New Year.

Retailers completely pass over Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday from the Pilgrim
days when living through the winter to harvest was an occasion for thanking Almighty God.
Even Charlie Brown and his gang in Peanuts, when it aired in 1965, complained of the
commercialization of Christmas, lamenting the lack of meaning for monetary gain.
When Christmas songs from the 70s and 80s are played, it is depressing almost to the point of
tears when a comparison is made of the warm, loving, wonderful time of those decades to
today’s commercial apathy.

Maybe, this is an “old folks’ rant about the good old days, but what can be gleaned from today’s
lukewarm electronic holiday?

America has best go back to Ronald Reagan and remember his line:
“If we ever forget we are One Nation Under God, then we will be a nation gone under.”
If Christians don’t stand up and fight for our basic joys of the Lord, His sacrifice for us
and the right to celebrate such, these rights will be taken away by the Liberal Left with
their Atheistic and destructive ways. There are no more free countries to find with such
liberties as we enjoy. They must not be lost, as they will never be found again.

Old Rock Jail to feature Halloween, Christmas events

Community, News
Sandra Green Towns County Historical Society

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Old Rock Jail Museum will transform into a haunted historical site this Halloween for the second year in a row. Towns County Historical Society President Sandra Green made the announcement at the society’s Sept. 9 meeting.

“We’re going to have a haunted Halloween at the jail, and that’s something that Tyler (Osborn) and Mary Ann (Miller) will be working on,” Green said. “We’re going to revise it a little bit from last year, and it will be new and improved. But we’re also considering charging a dollar for admission and hope that that would be a good moneymaker for the jail. So we’ll be working on that in the weeks to come, and I’m sure as creative as they are that they will come up with some great ideas.”

Old Rock Jail

The Old Rock Jail Museum is located next to the Towns County Courthouse.

Members of the local Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) will assist the historical society officers in shaping the spooky setting. Towns County, in cooperation with the City of Hiawassee, will host its annual Halloween trick-or-treat, costume contest simultaneously.

Additionally, the Old Rock Jail Museum  will once again feature “Picking on the Porch” in early October. In the event of inclement weather, the music will be held indoors at the Towns County Civic Center.

The festivities won’t end with the close of the autumn season, however.

“We’re also doing something new, and I can thank Tyler Osborn, our secretary, for coming up with this idea,” Green shared. “We’re going to have an old-fashion Christmas open house at the jail in December, and we’re going to do that in conjunction with the lighting of the tree on the Square.”

Holiday decor depicting the 1930s and 1940s eras, a time period when the jail was operatable, will be on display.

The Old Rock Jail Museum is currently open for touring Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free, although donations are greatly appreciated by the Towns County Historical Society.

Old Rock Jail Archives

VFW seeks community’s help stuffing stockings for troops

Community, News

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – VFW Auxilary Post 7807 Senior Vice-President and Co-Chair of Operation Care Package John Whalen requests the community’s assistance stuffing holiday stockings to send to military troops serving overseas. The Operation Care Package event will be held Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Towns County Recreation Center at Foster Park in Young Harris.

Click here for map.

“We’ll kick-off the festivities at 9 am,” Whalen told FYN. “It’s a community-type event. We hope to send close to a thousand stockings overseas.”

Items ranging from snacks to toiletries have been collected to fill the care packages, and monetary donations for postage is appreciated to ship the containers to those who serve. The cost to mail a single box amounts to approximately $18, and the local VFW has mailed several dozens in recent months.VFW 7807

“As a military-veteran service and non-profit, the mission of USASOA has been to provide for the care and comfort of our service members and veterans of every age and period of service,” explains. “In our effort to engage and connect the civilian population with the military community, USASOA initiated Operation Care Package. This program collects and mails out care packages filled with items requested by our deployed troops, especially those who are stationed in remote locations or a FOB (Forward Operating Base).”

Checks to aid in the shipping effort can be mailed to:

VFW Auxilary, Operation Care Package, P.O. Box 624, Hiawassee, GA, 30546.

For additional information, contact Rosemary Whalen at 762-525-0515.


Feature Image: John and Rosemary Whalen of Hiawassee’s VFW Auxilary Post 7807.

Selecting and Caring for Fresh Christmas Trees

Featured, Lifestyle

By: Eddie Ayers, County Extension Agent

In my opinion, there is nothing like a fresh Christmas tree in the home. Artificial trees look more
natural now than when I was growing up, but they are not the same. Choosing a fresh tree
should be a fun family affair, but you also want to get the best value for your money.

So let’s start with how to select a fresh tree. First, determine where in your home you will
display your tree so that you will be able to tell what size and shape you need. Next, if possible,
cut the tree yourself. This will provide the best opportunity to have a fresh tree throughout the
Christmas season, but you still need to care for it like you would any other “live” tree. If you are
choosing a pre-cut tree, you need to do a freshness test on it before you bring it home so hold a
branch about 6 inches from the tip then pull your hand toward the tip, allowing the branch to slip
through your fingers. Very few green needles should come off in your hand if the tree is fresh.
Here’s another freshness test: lift the tree a couple of inches off the ground, then bring it down
abruptly on the stump end. If the tree is fresh, outside green needles should not fall off in
substantial numbers. Remember, inside needles do turn brown and shed naturally every year.

Now let’s look at how to care for a fresh tree. The most important thing to remember has to do
with water. These trees need water daily, just like a fresh bouquet of flowers. You’ll want to
remember to keep plenty of water in the stand at all times. If you are choosing a stand, be sure
and choose one that has a big water storage area. A Christmas tree may absorb a gallon of water
in the first 24 hours it’s up and between two pints to a gallon of water a day thereafter. Check
the stand daily and supply fresh water as needed. If the water supply runs out, a seal will form
on the cut surface of the tree trunk and the tree will not absorb water and dry out. If the water
runs out, a new cut should be made.

When a tree is first cut, a seal of sap occurs naturally over its stump which keeps moisture in the
tree. It’s important to break that seal to allow the tree to take up water needed to keep it fresh
throughout the holidays. Once you’ve selected your tree and you have it at home, make a fresh
cut across the base of the trunk, ¼ inch up from the original cut. Put it in a bucket of water and
protected from the sun and wind until you get ready to move it indoors. If you are selecting a
balled and burlap tree, first make sure that the tree will grow in our area and second do not let the
root ball dry out as the tree will not survive when planted outside.

When you do bring the tree indoors, position it away from heat sources such as fireplaces,
radiators, heat vents, and television sets. When it’s time to put the lights on and trim the tree,
first test your light cords and connections before hanging them on the tree to make sure they are
in good working condition, without cracked insulation or broken sockets, and make sure all the
sockets are filled. Once you get the lights on, then it’s time to finish trimming and enjoy, but
don’t forget to unplug the lights when you go to bed or leave home. Never leave a tree with the
lights on unattended!

For more information, contact me at the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

Santa Claus was back in town for second annual “Light Up Hiawassee”

Community, News
HIawassee Police DEpartment

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Jolly old Saint Nick took time out of his busy holiday schedule to make an appearance at “Light Up Hiawassee” on Thursday, Dec. 6, arriving on town square in style by fire engine, escorted by Towns County Fire and Rescue, and Hiawassee Police Department.

The festivities began at 4 p.m. with cookie decorating and rock painting activities for the children, followed by a golf cart parade, as merry music set the mood of the season. Towns County Red Cross volunteers served coffee and hot chocolate, and VFW Post 7807 offered hot dogs, refreshments, and select merchandise.

Nancy Noblet

Hiawassee Councilwoman and event organizer Nancy Noblet poses with Santa

Luminary candles bordered the sidewalks in honor of the local children assisted by the Enotah CASA program throughout the year, with CASA Chair Liz Ruf briefly addressing the crowd.

A mailbox for letters to Santa sat center on Hiawassee Square, at the ready to accept requests from wishful children. Hamilton Gardens extended a host of pointsettia plants for purchase.

Light Up Hiawassee

A young boy decorates a cookie during the event

Shortly before Santa’s arrival at dusk, Mayor Liz Ordiales counted down the illumination of the square, and the heart of Hiawassee magically transformed into a winter wonderland at the flick of the switch.

The event was originally scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, postponed due to unfavorable weather.


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Dozens volunteer to Light Up Hiawassee

Community, News
Light up Hiawassee

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The chilly weather didn’t keep dozens of volunteers from showing up on Hiawassee Square early Saturday morning to decorate for the quickly approaching holiday season.

UPDATED: Light Up Hiawassee is postponed until Thursday, Dec. 6, due to the threat of rain.

Hiawassee Christmas

A group of volunteers affix a new holiday addition on Hiawassee Square

Hiawassee Council member and event organizer Nancy Noblet expressed appreciation for everyone who lended a hand in preparing for the upcoming event.

Light Up Hiawassee will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1, in the heart of Hiawassee, beginning at 4:00 p.m.

A variety of vendors will be on site during the festivities.

Schedule of Events:

Mayor Liz Ordiales

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales sorts through stacks of decorations

4:00 p.m. – Children’s Activities

5:30 p.m. – Golf Cart Parade

6:00 p.m. – CASA Luminaries

6:15 p.m. – Light Up Hiawassee

6:30 p.m. – Welcome Santa

7:00 p.m. – Christmas Carols

A Christmas Message


Thanksgiving 2018 has come and gone and about all we really know about it comes from
commercial sources. Through the constant drumming of the media we are basically told all we
need to know about Thanksgiving, when to start, when to stop and, by the way, ‘don’t forget
those great deals on Black Friday’ because, well, Christmas is just around the corner and after
all, America’s economy depends on commercialism. Their point is, It’s okay to go into debt but
don’t eat the Romaine lettuce. Is it who we really are? Apparently!

But this year I sense a distinct change in the atmosphere. I’ve heard more detailed explanations
of the real Pilgrims story at Plymouth, Mass. in attempts to correct the re-written history some
elements in our society want us to accept. I feel a perceptible shifting of moral values going on
and I sense a not so subtle shift back to religious faith especially as the destructive tenants of
Islam are flooding our country. The leadership of our churches, long beaten into compliance to
accept the dictates of a secular society, must return to their mission of spreading the gospel and
abandon the demand that we must accept the perverted deviancy of 1% of our population that
demands acceptance, without consequence.

What Americans know about Christmas is mostly suggested to us by the years of Macy’s Day
parades, Hollywood movies and Coca-Cola. TV quickly changed our values. Decades ago,
Coca-Cola embraced Clement Moore’s poem, A Christmas Carol, “Twas the Night Before
Christmas” and lo, we now have an indisputably accepted short, fat, happy ol’ elf who enters
homes down chimney pipes, never gets dirty and enjoys their product while winking at us.
When I was a little boy, a world war was underway yet the traditions of Christmas, and even
then they were commercial, were anticipated and observed. We decorated Christmas trees, had
special seasonal attractions and attended Church programs singing hymns while we little
children read or recited memorized snippets of scripture to the audience. I recall my surprise
upon learning that even Germans soldiers observed Christmas, indeed was responsible for
introducing the Christmas tree as a tradition. And, they sang “Silent Night.” What a revelation.

Among the big traditions were Christmas cards. My mother saved Christmas cards for years
and she gave them out in profuse qualities herself. Those that came to me, mostly from mothers
friends and sisters, were scenes depicted as cartoons. Family cards were actually incredible
works of art depicting scenes of happy home fires or snow, doubtless of a Victorian England, the
country where greeting cards and Santa Clause were introduced as a tradition.

Until Coca Cola’s depiction, St. Nick was tall and skinny, a poor emaciated figure, hungry
looking with a limp bag hanging over his shoulder. None of that has changed except Santa’s
size, but I am sensing once again, with Christmas day still weeks away, a change in the public
attitude, a realization that a prosperous America is returning even with all its social problems of
drug addictions, homelessness and hunger. I feel a sincere longing to return to our old traditions
where good cheer and happiness are not feigned but heartfelt; where charity is freely given
without conditions and people actually enjoy helping other people.

But, we must be careful and not allow the Left to peculate our good thing and introduce social
changes we know to be destructive to a free peoples. Government in the hands of Progressives,
will sweep all that away and the once shining city on the hill idea, as Ronald Reagan coined it,
will be but a footnote in history. We must strive to preserve all of our God given liberties.
Remember, freedom is the goal, the Constitution is the way. Now, go get ‘em! (29Nov18)

Sheriff Clinton asks community’s help in making Christmas brighter for local children

Community, Sheriff's Desk

From the Desk of Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton:

Most of us have family traditions that we enjoy during the Christmas season. Families with small children may spend Christmas Eve baking cookies for Santa or listening to Christmas carols, while enjoying eggnog by the fire. As a small child I remember the anticipation of Christmas being so intense. I was in awe and wonder dreaming about what might be inside all those presents wrapped so nicely under the tree. I would just stare at the Christmas tree and day dream about Christmas Day.

For me, even at 49, Christmas is still the most magical time of year. I love Christmas lights and the sounds of Christmas carols everywhere. The world just seems to be a nicer place during the Christmas season. I love to watch young children open gifts and see their eyes light up with joy. There is no other feeling like the feeling Christmas. While Christmas is about much more than material possessions, the spirit of Christmas, is certainly captured in the joy of a child receiving a gift on Christmas morning.

So, what about the children who are less fortunate? Imagine the child whose family has fallen on hard times. Do they wake up to just another day of struggling to make ends meet? Imagine if you were a parent who loved your child, but had fallen on hard times. I doubt that there would be anything much harder than not being able to provide your child, whom you love, the wonder of Christmas morning.

It breaks my heart to think that, as the rest of the world enjoys the most blessed day of the year, some families wake to another day of not having enough. While providing toys for these children isn’t going to make the rest of their problems go away, I can’t help but believe that, at least for a time, their world becomes a little brighter and things seem a little better than before.

Each year the Sheriff’s Office attempts to provide the joy of Christmas gifts for these children. This effort is only made possible by the help of generous people in the community who donate to this cause. Names of children in need are collected and toys are gathered. We try whenever possible to provide at least one item that the child has specifically asked for. The toys are then given to the parents, of the child to handle Christmas in their family’s tradition. It is all done in such a way as to protect the dignity of the family and allow them to share in the joy that many of us take for granted.

This year has been a tough one for some local families. We are hoping to provide for each child, but we need your help to do so. If you would like to be a part of this effort, or if you know of a family with children in need of help, please contact your Sheriff’s Office at 706-896-4444.

I hope that each of you has a blessed and joyous Christmas this year!

Christmas Parades Down Main Street

Community, News
Towns County parade

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The holidays have arrived, and families lined along Main Street, ringing in the season with the annual Towns County Sheriff’s Christmas Parade on Saturday, Nov. 24. “Making Spirits Bright” was this year’s theme, with spectators encouraged to donate new, unwrapped toys to local children for the Empty Stocking Fund.

North Georgia Dance Studio

North Georgia Dance Studio

The parade began at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds at 6 pm, heading east toward Hiawassee Town Square. The roar of sirens could be heard long before the procession arrived at its final destination shortly after 6:30 pm, with children anxiously awaiting the festive floats, and of course, Santa Claus.

Parade participants tossed candy to onlookers, waving and wishing the crowd a very “Merry Christmas.”

Georgia Bass Nation High School rode in the procession, with the Adam Kennedy team winning first place, followed by Reel Money Team Trail placing second, and the Towns County Lions Club landing a respected third.

Hiawassee parade

Children greeting the crowd

“Thank you all for making this another successful parade,” Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton expressed, “New, unwrapped toys for underprivileged Towns County children are accepted at our courthouse and administrative offices, as well as monetary donations.”

“Light Up Hiawassee” is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, on Hiawassee Square.

Light up Blue Ridge ~ November 25th 2016!

Community, Featured


Donations! Where Does Your Money Go?

Featured Stories

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  It is also one of the most giving times as well.  People open their hearts and their wallets to help worthy causes and most are legit.   When making a decision on which charity to donate to, most people consider the “efficiency” of the organization.  What percentage of the monies received by the charity goes to funding its mission verses other costs such as fundraising activities, salaries, and other overhead.   When giving to a non-profit you can always check its financials, which are required by law to be available, see below:

Tax-exempt organizations must make annual returns and exemption applications filed with the IRS available for public inspection and copying upon request. In addition, the IRS makes these documents available. The questions below relate to the public disclosure and availability of documents filed by tax-exempt organizations with the IRS.

There are several ways you can check out the charity but the most direct way is to ask for a copy of its financials so you can determine if your money is actually being used in the way you believe when you give.  There are sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar which are very helpful in showing you what percentage of your giving goes to support the mission, as opposed to administrative expenses. Some nonprofits have a large overhead, but according to the charity ratings site, if they are spending more than 33.3% of their total budget on overhead, the organization is not meeting its mission.  However if your “cause” or “local charity” is not listed we suggest you request the disclosure from your choice of giving and make sure your money is helping the cause you desire.

FYN will be taking a look at some of our local charities and letting you know what we find.  Giving is great but it is always a good idea to make sure of how the money is actually being used.

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