New North Pole Village Opens In Bryson City, N.C.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013 - by Swain County Chamber of Commerce

This year, passengers on the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad’s The Polar Express train are the first to see the brand new North Pole Village that the railroad created for this yearly event. As in the past, the surrounding town is brightly lit with colorful, Christmas lights. But now as the train arrives, waiting for riders is a large-scale, gothic-style North Pole Village that looks like it came straight from the pages of Chris Van Allsburg’s book.

The North Pole Village is comprised of six individual structures that span over 300 feet long and include The Clock Tower, Bakery, Toy Re-Bicycling, Hot Chocolate Factory, Gift Wrapping and the Naughty and Nice Office (Human Resources Department, naturally).

GSMR creative designers stenciled bricks on each building by hand to ensure that the detail is correct. There are 60 quaintly lit frosted windows dotting throughout the buildings and over 1000 twinkling lights accenting the nooks and crannies. The star of the set is Santa’s bright red sleigh. Weighing over 400 pounds, the 12-foot-long sleigh needs all the magic of the season to lift off!

The Polar Express made its debut at the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad in the winter of 2004. It was projected that the railroad would carry 3,000 passengers when in fact they carried 33,000. Popularity continued to grow and this 2013 season it is projected to carry over 50,000 passengers.

According to Sarah Pressley, GSMR Marketing Manager, “Year after year we (GSMR) always try to challenge ourselves to be as creative as we can be within our limits. This new set has always been a dream of ours and it has finally come to fruition. Our goal is to try and provide the most authentic experience we can with our presentation. Our passengers have always given us feedback for 'more lights, more buildings' and this is our answer!
“We’ll also have some other surprises for our riders within this North Pole Village. Watch out! You may just see the smoke stacks filling with real smoke, the jack-in-the-box popping out to say hello, elves dancing in celebration, or maybe even the mysterious hobo keeping warm by the fire on the box car! The Magic is everywhere, so there is no telling just who might appear!”

For more information and reservations call 800 872-4681 or look online at

Tennessee Aquarium Has Underwater Pumpkin Carving On Saturdays

Tennessee Aquarium guests can see underwater pumpkin carving demonstrations each Saturday at 11 a.m. throughout October in the River Journey building. Costumed SCUBA divers will make weekend appearances for the rest of the month.  Lots of costumed divers will be seen during the AquaScarium family Halloween Party at the Aquarium. Pirates, mermaids, and super heroes will be ... (click for more)

Ghostly Gathering At Historic Rugby Set For Oct. 22 And 29

Historic Rugby’s annual “Ghostly Gathering” celebration will take place on Oct. 22 and 29 (Saturdays) this year at 6 p.m. Eastern. The yearly Halloween-season celebration is a favorite among village visitors, who enjoy a homemade chili dinner with dessert at the Historic Rugby Community Building, followed by a ghost movie, then candle and oil lamp tours of several historic ... (click for more)

Fire Displaces Family Of 7; Blaze Ruled Accidental

No injuries were reported in connection with a house fire on Saturday afternoon that displaced a family of seven. The Chattanooga Fire Department received the alarm at 4:11 p.m. and responded to 3308 Dodson Ave. with five fire companies. Captain Wadie Suttles with Engine 4 said heavy fire was showing when the first firefighters arrived on the scene. As additional firefighters ... (click for more)

Clarence Ross, Leshawn Witherow Shot On Walden Avenue Friday Afternoon

Chattanooga Police are investigating a shooting that happened early Friday afternoon at the 6300 block of Walden Avenue.  Clarence Ross, 41, And Leshawn Witherow, 40, suffered non-life threatening injuries.  Hamilton County EMS transported both victims to a local hospital for treatment.  There is no suspect information at this time.  Investigators with ... (click for more)

Where Is The Speed Control On Our Highways? - And Response (2)

I am teaching my 15-year-old to drive in the North Georgia and Chattanooga area. I have warned her of the dangers of exceeding the speed limit both as a hazard to herself and in terms of receiving a ticket. What a liar I am.  Have you driven on the local freeways and highways recently? I never see any highway patrolmen helping to reduce speeding or pulling over those who ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: A Vol Is Worth $521,854

The definition for the term “fair market value,” this from the IRS tax code, “is the price at which the property would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or to sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.” So a recent article in Business Insider has just revealed a University of Tennessee scholarship ... (click for more)