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Christmas at the Elks National Home is a very special time of the year, not only for the residents who have made this their Home, but also for the devoted and dedicated staff and the approximately 100,000 visitors who will see the splendor of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks portrayed as a beaming, spirited rebirth of Charity and Brotherly Love.
The annual Christmas Lighting Ceremony is always a very special occasion and a major highlight of the year, not only for the residents and staff of the Home, but for the local community and many officials of the Order of Elks. The lights are on from 5:30 pm to 10:30 pm daily thru December 31st.
History of the Christmas Lights
The magnificent display of lights and scenery at the Elks National Home has grown from a few lights on the porch and a huge tree in the lobby to what you see today.
The first outdoor decoration to be added was a row of lights along the roof line and the sleigh and reindeer. This was in 1953. From that beginning, the displays and lighting just grew each year, attracting more and more people.
Most of the original displays were made at the Home by the maintenance supervisor at that time, George Buck; a resident of the Home, Tom Sidonia, who was a retired artist for the Barnum and Bailey Circus; and a local sign painter, D. H. Pinion. By 1955, large crowds were coming from Bedford and the surrounding areas to view the displays.
In 1965, there was a complete rearrangement and new concept. The religious scenes were constructed and the Christmas story placed in sequence just after the entrance. The community scenes, Santa, elves, carolers, etc. were placed near the building and on the lawn to the right after making the circle. In the following years, additional scenes were purchased from decorating companies and made by Elks Home employees. Of course, changes are made each season, adding new displays and/or changing the arrangement. Barry Schubert, one of the Home’s security guards who is also a talented artist, has repainted and remade many of the older displays and created new, original ones.
Erecting the lights and displays is a tremendous task, which is usually begun the first week of November. The Home’s maintenance crew, with the assistance of residents, are responsible for this and do a fine job each year. Innumerable man hours are required for the erection and dismantling of this project. There are approximately 50,000 light bulbs that adorn the trees, shrubs, grounds and buildings.
Well over 20,000 vehicles pass through the grounds each Christmas Season, and it is estimated over 100,000 people view the display. A new record was set in 2006when the official count of vehicles was 29,062.
The lights are turned on for the first time each year at an official ceremony in the main dining room, with the public invited and a prominent member of the Order of Elks to throw the master switch. This ceremony is on a Friday, one or two weeks before Christmas, and the lights burn from that time, 5:30 to 10:00 p.m. each evening, through New Year’s Eve.
Fundraising initiative with local high school golf boosters, changes in food service announced.
Hardy, VA (December 8, 2014) – Joining a growing trend of conversion among golf courses across the country, The Westlake will transition from a semi-private golf course and country club to a full public course effective January 1, 2015, announced The Willard Companies, owners of the facility. The company also announced plans to revise its food service offering as well as a new fundraising partnership with the Franklin County High School golf boosters.
The move from semi-private to public will create new playing opportunities for golfers in the region. Ron Willard II, vice president of The Willard Companies, stated, “Going public is a strategic decision in an effort to grow the business by attracting more players. We are excited about the conversion and projecting the move will increase our total number of rounds throughout the year.”
The Willard Companies purchased Chestnut Creek in 1996 and renamed it The Westlake Golf and Country Club. Over the years, the company has completely renovated both the club facility and the course. While the company offered a variety of membership drives, waived initiation fees and decreased dues, the total membership numbers didn’t justify continuing to operate as semi-private.
Coinciding with the conversion to a public course, The Westlake will discontinue offering full-service dining and transition to a Snack Bar inside the Clubhouse. The new Snack Bar’s counter service will offer burgers, hot dogs, sandwiches, and snacks during hours of operation. “We felt it was important to tailor both the menu and food service to the golfer who is looking to grab something quick before or after a round of golf. There are also a number of restaurants that have opened in the area, including businesses that operate in our commercial project, Westlake Towne Center, that we wanted to avoid competing with,” stated Willard. The Westlake will continue to offer opportunities to join the pool during the summer as well as room rentals for banquets, meetings, seminars, parties and receptions.
Along with the conversion to a public course and changes in food services, The Westlake has introduced a new Player’s Card to reward loyal golfers with discounted rates and benefits. In addition, The Westlake has partnered with the Franklin County High School golf boosters to sell the Player’s Card as a fundraiser for their respective team. The Player’s Card, which costs $120.00, is a way to recognize and show appreciation for loyal players including discounted playing fees and other value added benefits. For each card sold through the Eagle golf team members, The Westlake will donate $40.00 back to the boosters to use towards equipment needs, offset travel expenses, and potential scholarships. The Westlake is also in the process of coordinating similar partnerships with other high schools throughout the region.
Stuart Jamison, head coach for the Franklin County High School golf team, stated, “We are very appreciative of this opportunity. The Willard Companies has always been a tremendous supporter of our golf program and all funds raised from this initiative will generate monies to supplement our overall operating budget.”
“The Westlake has always been an important asset to the community and we are committed to keeping it that way,” added Willard.
The Westlake is cut out of the woods and a green that sits by one of Smith Mountain Lake’s many peaceful coves and inlets. The Westlake includes a beautifully restored farmhouse that features a pro shop and a delightful restaurant. The Westlake carries the trademark touch of Russell Breeden, a Virginia native with nearly 100 course designs to his credit. The 6,511-yard course is challenging for players of all levels. Visit online at www.GolfTheWestlake.com.
The Willard Companies is the umbrella for Willard Construction of Roanoke Valley, Inc., Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate, The Waterfront, The Water’s Edge and The Westlake. The company is involved in country clubs, building, developing, marketing and real estate. The Willard Companies is also affiliated with Westlake Towne Center, Westlake Cinema, Westlake Salon & Spa, Window and Door Design Gallery, The Cabinet Gallery and Smith Mountain Building Supply. Visit online at www.TheWillardCompanies.com.
Christopher E. Finley
Director of Marketing and PR
The Willard Companies
Christmas is coming and The Smith Mountain Lake Show wants to keep you informed of the fun festivities. Here is a list of upcoming events. If you know of more …just let us know…and we will add them to the list! Merry Christmas and ENJOY!
- 12/04/2014 – Holiday Tree Lighting at Westlake 2014
Westlake Towne Center’s free, family-oriented event will feature live music, light refreshments, tree lighting, photo opportunity with Santa, and the chance to win a $1,000 Shopping Spree. Activities taking place during the event include:
- Special arrival of Santa on a fire truck
- Free photos with Santa sponsored by Your School Photos
- Live concert by The Parrot Pan Steel Band
- Live concert by Marie Anderson
- Live concert by Lakeside Singers
- Live concert by Johnny and Luna Bender
- Live concert by EastLake Community Church members
- Live concert by Smith Mountain Lake Harmeneers
- Complimentary refreshments
- WE CARE of Franklin County Toy Drive
- Free holiday coloring books to children donated by Carilion Clinic
- Join us this December for the Annual Thomas Road Virginia Christmas
Spectacular! This 90-minute LIVE production features an array of talented musicians, dancers and performers. Experience Christmas in an entirely new way with more than 150,000 synchronized lights in the state of the art 5,000 seat Thomas Road Worship Center. The joy of the season begins at the Thomas Road Virginia Christmas Spectacular. The 2014 performances are December 4-7. Show Tickets are priced at $8, $12 or $15 depending on your seating choice.
- 12/05/2014 – Come Home to a Franklin County Christmas
Tis the season for holly, jolly fun at the 11th Annual Come Home to a Franklin County Christmas event on Friday, Dec. 5 at 5:30…
- 12/05/2014 – Downtown Moneta Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting 2014
Third annual Christmas Parade and tree lighting will be held in Downtown Moneta to benefit the Moneta Fire Department. Join in the fun and festivities to include a guest appearance by Jolly Old St. Nick!
- 12/06/2014 – An Old Virginia Christmas Event at Booker T. Washington Monument
Join the park’s staff and Living History Guild for this year’s Christmas focusing on the “Christmas of 1864: The Last Christmas of the Civil War”. Experience what Christmas of 1864 was like for residents, enslaved and free, on this mid 19th century tobacco plantation. Listen, smell, feel, and taste “an old Virginia Christmas” while commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. 3pm to 8pm.
- 12/06/2014 – 17th Annual Virginia Dare Flotilla for Toys Christmas Boat Parade An evening event, with a parade of boats ‘decked out’ for the holiday season with lights and displays. The boats leave port from the Virginia Dare Marina at 7 p.m., travel to Halesford Bridge at Bridgewater Plaza, circle past the SML State Park and return to the Virginia Dare Marina about 9pm. This event is a local toy drive with all gifts distributed by the Lake Christian Ministries.
- The Seventh Annual “Charity Chug”, a model railroad house-to-house tour hosted by members of the Smith Mountain Lake Model Railroad Group, will be held on Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7 from 1-5 p.m. The event provides an opportunity for area residents to check out several extensive model railroad displays in the Smith Mountain Lake area—five layouts will be open on Saturday and six layouts will be open on Sunday (click here for locations and directions). Visitors are encouraged to make donations; all proceeds go to Lake Christian Ministries’ “A Child’s Christmas” effort.
- The Bedford Christmas Parade will be held December 6 at 4 p.m. This year’s parade theme is “A Christmas Story” in Bedford.
The parade will be followed by the Tree Lighting at 6 p.m. in the Centertown Plaza (Bridge & Main). There will also be carriage rides and free pictures with Santa in SantaLand that evening from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
The 2014 Flotilla For Toys Boat Parade of Lights
will be held Saturday December 6th 7:00pm-9:00pm
Virginia Dare and Lake Christian Ministries has worked hand in hand to put together the Flotilla for Toys Boat Parade of Lights. The Virginia Dare leads numerous Boats with lights glistening on the waters of Smith Mountain Lake. This event raises Toys for the LOCAL Children of need.
We leave the Virginia Dare Marina at 7:00pm. We Cruise to Halesford Bridge arriving approx. 8:00pm. Then back to Port at 9:00pm.
CALLING ALL BOAT OWNERS!!
If you have a Boat and you would like to enter it in the parade please click on
Register your Boat Tab.
DON’T OWN A BOAT??
Ride on the lead Boat the Virginia Dare with Santa & Rudolph leading the way in the Flotilla. Get on your Jingle Bells and pull out those Christmas Sweaters!!
Adults are $35.00 and Kids 12 and under are $25.00
Price includes: 2 Hour Cruise, Hors d’ oeuvre, Assorted Cookies, Holiday Punch & Tax.
We have Toy Drop off Boxes out in the local businesses. They’ll remain in the businesses until December 16th.
If you have a Boat Load of Toys that needs to be picked up
Please call Seatow: 540-719-5555 Ext-2