Merry Christmas, Asheville-style

Asheville, North Carolina: the town every other town wants to be lately, and the destination that keeps topping the charts for “best of” when it comes to food, outdoors, happiness, fall color, smartness, Christmas fun, beer–lots and lots of beer–and so much more. (See some of the most recent accolades here.) 

Christmas in Asheville
At Christmas, Asheville is bustling with locals and tourists alike, shopping for that perfect, one-of-a-kind gift, admiring the sights along the Blue Ridge Parkway, visiting Biltmore with its breathtaking holiday decorations, and just generally soaking up the different-drummer beat that characterizes this small city in the heart of Western North Carolina.

During the holiday season, you may meet Santa and his BFF–a large St. Bernard mix dog wearing festive antlers–on the streets of Asheville. This Santa isn’t just another jolly old elf wannabe–Asheville’s Santa has his own reasons for wishing everyone he sees a merry Christmas. In the words of my friend and colleague Elizabeth Ford:

merry christmas (2)
(Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Ford)

“Just wanted to share a sweet lesson that only Asheville could have taught me over my lunch break. You may have seen the “Santa” standing in Pack Square with his dog/reindeer? Well, as first glance I said to myself, “that’s so Asheville and walked by.” But on the way back from lunch his dog really caught my attention and I couldn’t resist going over and asking if I could pet him. When I casually asked the man what motivated him to dress him and his dog up, he surprised me by saying he was a cancer survivor and thanks to a new liver, he has a new life and was so blessed that he was out spreading Christmas cheer. I was so taken by his story, that I asked to take a photo and then wanted to share it with all of you. What a playful way to spread some joy and what a great reminder to me what Christmas is all about.”

I ran into Asheville Santa on Broadway last week; we chatted for a moment and I asked him his dog’s name. “This is Rowan,” he said, “like Rowan & Martin.” What a perfect tribute to another great team: comedians Rowan & Martin of Laugh-In fame. (If you don’t remember them, suffice it to say they were funny and gave a lot of other emerging stars the break they needed to get going). By the time I saw him, Rowan had lost his festive antlers, but I could tell he was Santa’s reindog, even without the props.

Asheville Santa and reindog Rowan spotted around town (photo by Karen Bruce)

If you see Asheville Santa and his reindog Rowan, be sure to wish them a merry Christmas and happy New Year, for, as the saying goes, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” (Quote attributed to Ian McLaren.) Asheville Santa may have won his battle, but he knows that others are still fighting. Give him a chance to help you smile–you’ll help make his days merry and bright!

Want to see and hear Asheville Santa in action? Check out this great video clip shared by!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s