Black bear positioned as a decoration in the Christmas tree.

Smoky Mountains Christmas Tree

Those of you who know us know that this is redecorating season, as we make room for all the new decorations arriving daily for Christmas.  The Smoky Mountain room is moving to the end of the hall and receiving a gorgeous makeover – but it’s still under construction for a time. Here’s a sneak peek at what the designers have been up to this week. (Click the link above to see the Smoky Mountain selection on our website.)

Do you recognize this wall? No, you don’t – it’s brand new!

Interior wall newly resurfaced with rough wood siding and large windows.

There’s our big, carved, Smoky Bear, taking donations for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  And yes, there’s an outhouse back there..wonder what’s inside?  Maybe later…here’s the tree – with plaid-clad elves, a plaid reindeer, and a colorful ski lodge theme.

Decorated Christmas tree in a mountain ski lodge theme with plaid reindeer and elves.

Plaid reindeer with branches for antlers, decorating a Christmas tree.

Large elf in Christmas tree with fur-lined sweater and plaid ski pants.

Merry Christmas ornament in the Christmas tree.

Black bear positioned as a decoration in the Christmas tree.

Wood-look mounted deer's head as a Christmas tree decoration.

Paradise…it says “Just Another Day In Paradise!”

Merchandise display of black bears and rustic signs.

A bird in the hand is worth two on the branch?  We’re changing that to “put another bird in your shopping basket, honey, y’all can’t have too many birds!”  Under construction…

Birds perched on lighted branches, the beginnings of a new display.

And finally, we’ll leave you with this:  any guesses as to what this will become?  Only time will tell the story!

Birch trees lined up against a wall, with a large wooden spool in front - soon to be a new merchandise display for something fun.

We love where you’re going with your design, team! I’ll be back later in the summer with more pictures of our Smoky Mountain room. I hope you’ll come to see it for yourself, too!

~Janet @ The Incredible Christmas Place

P.S.  This is the final weekend of our tent sale – still lots of great stuffing going under the big top every day – come and shop before it ends on Sunday, June 5th!

Hope Black Bear Ornament

We learned over the weekend that customers are snapping up this black bear ornament in honor of Hope, a black bear that was part of a research study on the bear population in Minnesota.  Hope traveled with her mother, Lily, and another cub named Faith – but always managed to get out of her tracking collar.  She was legally shot by a hunter sometime last month.    Read more about the story here.

We enjoy a sizeable black bear population here in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park area, too.  According to The Park’s website, this is “one of the few places remaining in the eastern United States where black bears can live in wild, natural surroundings.”  Our bears have been very active this year, and it is awesome – and fearsome – to see them enjoying the land.  A mama and cub sighting is the best, but can be the most dangerous, too.

When you visit Pigeon Forge & Christmas Place, be sure to schedule time for a drive or a hike in our national park – leaf season is coming on, and it’s going to be a beautiful fall!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Winter Wonderland

We had a bit of a cold, wet spell here recently, along with most of the rest of the country, so last Monday I took a trip up to the top of Old Smoky for some photos.  The deepest snow was on the mountain ranges that you can’t see from Newfound Gap, but then we wouldn’t have been able to drive up, now would we?  There were still a few icy patches that required cautious negotiation, but many travelers were on the road with us.  Passing trailheads along the way, it was clear that there were also plenty of hikers enjoying a snowy climb.

Here are a few images I captured.  The stream was mostly snow- and ice-covered, with  barely visible patches of flowing water occasionally reflecting the sky.. well, not that much sky gets through the thick surrounding brush.  About halfway up the mountain to the pass, a pair of very skinny wild turkeys crossed the road behind us – we wished we had some corn to help them make it through the week.

Next is my favorite picture, because it looks like it’s snowing .. but really I took the picture with the sun in the wrong place .. I just wanted to be up there while the snow was coming down!

The next pictures show that there was not much wind during the snowfall – just enough to stick snow to trunks and branches, but then leave it there.

Newfound Gap

Looking south into North Carolina:

Looking north into Tennessee:

Looking west up the valley towards Gatlinburg:

I love that snowy landscape!  For a few days, we were even telling each other the snow was “laying for more snow,” but I sure don’t see it in the near forecast.

Til the weekend, all our cars were white with salt and spray, but now everyone has had a chance to take cars through the car wash, and I’m blinded every time I look out the window here .. which is a good problem, because it means we have guests ~ people are still feeling the spirit of Christmas, even three weeks into the new year.  I think there are only about 341 days til next Christmas ..

Wishing you blue skies and clear highways wherever you may be today!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Great Smokies Rededication Ceremony!

I just received a message from Friends of the Smokies about acquiring tickets to the park rededication ceremony next month, in celebration of the Park’s 75th Anniversary.  I’m sure it will be a grand event!

Great Smoky Mountains National Park
News Release

Immediate Release Contact: Nancy Gray 865/436-1208
Date: August 18, 2009

PUBLIC INVITED TO SMOKIES REDEDICATION CEREMONY

The public is invited to attend, on a first-come, first-serve basis, the 75th Anniversary Rededication of Great Smoky Mountains National Park on September 2, along with a host of dignitaries and distinguished guests, including the Park’s 75th Anniversary Ambassador Dolly Parton. The ceremony will begin at 11:15 a.m. and will end around 1 p.m., but because of the logistical challenges associated with transportation, guests should
expect to devote a full day to this activity. People will depart by bus as early as 8 a.m. and should plan on returning no earlier than 3 p.m. Food and drinks will be available for purchase at Newfound Gap.

Park officials have identified a 2,000-person capacity for the event at Newfound Gap. All attendees will be transported by charter busses to the site from satellite locations outside the Park in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Cherokee, N.C. Newfound Gap Road (U.S. 441) between Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Cherokee, N.C. will be closed from 8 p.m., September 1, to 6 p.m., September 2.

There is a limited number of seats available to the public and these are being assigned in the order that they are received. Requests will be taken until capacity is reached or no later than Monday, August 24. A special email address has been set up for ticket requests, i.e., GRSMComments@nps.gov. Up to four tickets can be requested by one individual. The requester will receive a reply to be followed later by a confirming email once ticket availability has been determined. The following information must be received to obtain tickets: 1) Your Name, First and Last, and the Full Name of Your Guests (up to four individuals); 2) Mailing Address; 3) Telephone Number; 4) from which location will you depart—Cherokee or Pigeon Forge; 5) how many vehicles in your party; and 6) (if applicable), are you confined to a wheelchair and require a bus with a wheelchair lift?

For those who do not have access to email, people can call 865 436-7318, ext. 258 and leave a message with their name and a telephone number. They will in turn receive a return phone call. While a telephone option is offered, the email system by far is the most efficient way to contact the Park to request tickets.

“We have done our best to reach out to a cross section of people to share this moment in the Park’s history,” said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. “We are excited about the program that will mirror the original 1940 dedication and especially pleased to have all of our special guests and impressive slate of dignitaries together to celebrate the Park’s 75th anniversary.”

Dignitaries who will take part in the event include: North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue, Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen; U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar; U.S. Senators Richard Burr and Kay Hagan from North Carolina and Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and all three Congressmen whose districts include the Park, Heath Shuler of
North Carolina and John J. Duncan, Jr. and Phil Roe of Tennessee.

-NPS-

Two for Tuesday

But first – as I write today, there are only 199 DAYS TIL CHRISTMAS!  That’s just around the corner!

We’re beginning to see a lot of new things around Christmas Place ~ timed to be shown off  to best advantage in our shiny new surroundings, as new displays are created each day by the design team.  Christmas may be a few months away, still, but it’s never too early to get excited about it!

I am lovin’ on these tiny little music box lanterns!  There are two styles, one with kids throwing snowballs and my favorite, this one with two horse-drawn sleighs circling a fiber optic-illuminated Christmas tree.  A simple wind-up mechanism starts the action ~ lights, motion, and the tune “Let it Snow.”  The top of the lantern includes a chain, so you could hang it on your Christmas tree or from a stair rail, mantle, shelf, or ornament display stand.

Lantern Music Box

Lantern Music Box

 You know you want to see it in action!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5x1OmPR0wc]

And now for something very similar…well, with the lights, at least ~ two ways to add a festive flashing snowman to your holiday decor.  Wall-mounted or tabletop, which one works best for you?  One of each??  I LIKE THAT!   Real knit caps and scarves accessorize each snowman.

Festive Flashing Snowmen

Festive Flashing Snowmen

Here’s the flashing action:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sGpsJ6r7G1c]

Speaking of flashing things, it’s time once again for the annual display of synchronous fireflies, visible late at night in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The park is again offering shuttle service to a popular viewing area at Elkmont.

What’s new and flashing in your neck of the woods?

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Winter Wonderland

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As promised, a few pictures of the late winter snow we received Sunday night!  We are so very blessed with beauty here, and it is our pleasure to share it with you.  Makes you think, “hey, it’s less than 300 days until Christmas!”

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That's Gatlinburg in the valley below.

That’s Gatlinburg in the valley below.

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You can bet that is some COLD water!

You can bet that’s some cold water!

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img_5375

Think warm, Christmas thoughts – lights on the Christmas tree, a roaring fire in the fireplace, packages piled high, hot cocoa on the stove.  It’s never to early to start thinking Christmas Place!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

Wilderness Wildlife Week in the Smokies

In 2009, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park turns 75 years old!  Founded in 1934, ours is one of the most popular national parks in the country.  I’m looking forward to special events throughout the year that will highlight the history and attractions of the park.

Hoar Frost-coated trees in the Smokies

Hoar Frost-coated trees in the Smokies

The first event of 2009 is the 19th annual Wilderness Wildlife Week, held January 10-17, 2009, in the Music Road Hotel Convention Center.  This will be the longest kickoff event to the park’s celebratory year, and several special classes, seminars, and events have been added to the schedule.  More than 150 expert presenters will be involved in the over 220 programs and activities for the week, and there are also scheduled hikes in the park and a “then and now” photo exhibit covering the last 75 years.

Some sessions will be limited in size, and registration will be available from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Friday, January 9th, in the convention center lobby, and again early each morning during the week. 

There will be character portrayals of Theodore Roosevelt, William Bartram, and John Muir; a special textiles of the Smokies exhibit, including items never before displayed; programs for students and children; and a photography contest.

Learn about nature photography, slide show presentations, woodcarving, flora and fauna in the park, stream fishing, playing the dulcimer or harmonica, dowsing, and all about the history, folklore, and music of the peoples of the Smokies.

Contact the Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events at 865-429-7350 for a complimentary copy of the Official Program.  I picked up a copy this afternoon, and after reading through the schedule, I may have to take that week off to catch all the presentations I’d like to see!  

Most events are free, though the “Then and Now” photo exhibit and dessert reception on Saturday evening, January 17th, is a fundraiser in support of the Friends of the Smokies organization, and reservations are required.  Call 865-932-4794 or reserve on site.

Let me quote a bit of information from the program:

“Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 4,000 species of plants that grow there.  A walk from mountain base to peak compares with traveling 1,250 miles north.  Several resident plants and animals live only in the Smokies.  It also has a rich cultural history.  From the Cherokee Indians, to the Scotch-Irish settlers, this land was home to a variety of cultures and people.  Many historic structures remain standing.  Subsistence turned to exploitation as logging concerns stripped the region of timber.  Recovery is now the dominant theme.

There are 9 million visits per year.  The National Park Service must balance the needs of the land with the desires of the people both today and for the future.”

I’m really looking forward to the 75th anniversary year of the park, and Wilderness Wildlife Week will be a great place to start!

~Janet @ Christmas Place

P.S.  Mom, you & Dad should think about entering the photo contest!   Go here for the rules and here for an entry form.

Let it snow!

We got hit with some terrific rain storms this morning…the kind that wake you up at approximately 4:28:16 a.m. and keep you awake until the alarm goes off, and leave you fighting to keep your eyes open at 3:55:56 p.m.  The kind that cover the road in sheets of water so you’ve got to keep an iron grip on the steering wheel and all four wheels down on the tight curves.

Then, at work, coworkers start telling me “this was the weather we had the day before the great blizzard of ’93, when we were without power for 10 days and all the restaurants and hotels in town ran out of food!”  Which comments were all immediately followed with “bring on the snow!”  We have quite a few transplanted northerners in the county, and some of them really miss the snow.  Too, we have not a few former south-coasters who are contemplating any and all white stuff with varying degrees of fear and loathing – sort of like San Diegans waiting for rain, if you know what I mean.

Let’s meet in the middle, and settle for a good, but only just inconvenient, 5″ of white, what do you say?  Here’s a picture of my hopes for winter, from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park web site.

smokies-snow-scene

So, I was looking at the funny calendars as I like to do, but there’s not much going on.  It’s “Hi Neighbor” month, and I’ve done that already.  It’s “Underdog Day” a week from today, and I’ll try to avoid that.  National Tie Month (note that it is NOT ugly tie month).  Ooo – ooo – Cat Herders Day on the 15th.  Then there’s that whole Christmas brouhaha in a couple of weeks.  What’s that about??  Heh.  Heh.  Heh.

We’re always dreaming of a white Christmas around here!

~Janet @ The Christmas Place

P.S.  Have you been watching the U-Name-It-28-Days-of-Deals specials over at the shopping site?  And you remember that we’re offering free freight on orders over $75 through Sunday, December 14th?  You’ve still got plenty of time to snag some bargains and pick up a bauble or two, so get going!