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The Advocate and Democrat.

A 'Walk' back in time

Published: 10:05 AM, 11/28/2012

Author: Jessica Cross
Source: The Monroe County Advocate

TELLICO PLAINS-How long does it take to create a tradition?

In the case of the Tellico Plains Annual Candlelight Walk, it was instantaneous.

According to the Cherokee Women's Club, Shelia Holbo, who owns a gallery in town square in downtown Tellico Plains, came up with the idea.

"She suggested this event during a meeting of the merchants, who all said, 'That's a great idea! We'll try it,'" said Elizabeth Hannan with the Cherokee Women's Club.

Hannan said Sandra Pyron, who runs the Tellico Art Center and Tellico Vacation Rentals, added to the idea.

"She said, 'If you bake cookies and sell them, that will be a good way to pay for the costs of putting on the Candlelight Walk,'" recalled Hannan.

Just like that, two traditions were born: the Candlelight Walk and the Cookie Caper.

Thirteen years later, the tradition is still going strong. The Cherokee Women's Club is the guiding force behind the annual event, scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. in downtown Tellico Plains. The town crier will announce the start of the Candlelight Walk and Mayor Patrick Hawkins will light the Christmas tree in town square at 4 p.m.

The Candlelight Walk is a free event to the public and features a Victorian Christmas, including costumes, caroling, wagon rides, and open houses in the shops in downtown. Candles will line the sides of the street, illuminating the way to a variety of holiday activities, including horse drawn wagon rides, a live nativity scene, carolers and an elves' workshop. Some merchants will also offer free refreshments.

The Cookie Caper, where visitors can choose from a wide variety of homemade cookies and candies, will be on Scott Street, courtesy of the Myerson's.

The Grinch and Santa and Mrs. Claus will also be on hand to visit with children and take photos. The Cherokee Women's Club encourages all visitors to bring a camera.

There will be some new features at this year's Candlelight Walk. Children can decorate cookies for themselves, courtesy of the Boys & Girls Club. Small donations will be appreciated for the organization. Also new this year is story time sponsored by the Tellico Plains Public Library, a Christmas ornament design contest, a coloring contest and a silent auction.

In addition, cash prizes will be offered for the traditional Gingerbread House Contest.

Several book signings will be going on in downtown, as well. Vintage Collectables will have Jack Darnell, who writes children's books.Tellico Art Center will have Frances Dorwood on hand to sign her book "Uprooted" and The Bookshelf will host Coy Franklin, signing his biography of Reverend C. McCoy Franklin, titled "Daybreak in the Mountains."

First United Methodist Church will also be giving away free hot chocolate, coffee and cookies during the Candlelight Walk and invites everyone to stop by and warm up.

"Everything is free, except for cookies and whatever gifts you want to buy," said Hannan. "Our local banks help offset expenses and the Cherokee Women's Club covers the rest."

The Cherokee Women's Club hopes the event continues to be successful.

"Come see our historic downtown and enjoy the sights, sounds and aromas of Christmastime," said Hannan.

For more information about the Candlelight Walk or to participate as a choir in the event, contact Carrie at clynnb@aol.com. For information about the gingerbread house contest and the Christmas decorations contest, contact Mary at 423-572-0996. Forms to participate in those contests can be picked up on Saturday, Dec. 1, between noon and 4 p.m. at the Charles Hall Museum, Building 2, in Tellico Plains.

jessica.cross@advocateanddemocrat.com | 337-7101

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