By Collin Cunningham
(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) Happy Thursday, Charlotte! We've made it over the hump day and onto Thursday, Nov. 18. As usual, today's roundup has everything Queen City residents need to know for the date, featuring stories about a strike planned at the Charlotte airport, Food Network star Guy Fieri's new restaurant in North Carolina and an Ashe County tree that's set to make its way to the White House for Christmas. Lastly, we continue our way-too-early holiday season preview with more light displays to see in Charlotte.
What happened: Flight attendants with Piedmont Airlines are planning to strike outside of the Charlotte Douglas International Airport today in the hopes of being paid higher wages. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union represents over 50,000 workers at 17 airlines but it cannot participate in the strike because its contract requires a 30-day "cooling off" period. The organization stated that Piedmont flight attendants are compensated an average of 45% less than their peers at other airlines.
Why it matters: This is the second time airline workers have gone on strike outside Charlotte's airport this month and the protest comes a week before one of the biggest travel periods in the U.S. Traffic at the Charlotte airport is expected to be nearly double what it was during Thanksgiving travel in 2020.
What happened: Chef personality Guy Fieri is looking to drive his business into the Old North State, but he's not opening a diner or dive. Now open in the first floor of the Harrah's Cherokee Casino Resort in Cherokee, Guy Fieri's Cherokee Kitchen + Bar styles itself as an upscale eatery that seems to have more American fare than Native American cuisine.
Why it matters: Guests won't find traditional dishes containing American Indian staples like maize or squash, but they might be able to feel like colonizers as they launch into Fieri's Bacon Mc-N-Cheese Burger or Bourbon Brown Sugar BBQ Wings. Though the casino is located about three hours from Charlotte, it's a 160-mile trip and also gives visitors the option to check out the nearby N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer.
What happened: First Lady Jill Biden is set to decorate a tree that was grown in the Tar Heel State. Farmers Rusty and Beau Estes of Peak Farms in Ashe County grew the 24-foot pine, which will eventually adorn the Blue Room in the White House. Rusy told WBTV that his farm grows "the Cadillac of Christmas trees."
Why it matters: Presenting the First Lady with a Christmas tree to decorate is a U.S. tradition stretching back to 1929. Of the trees that have made the President's family feel festive over those 92 years, 14 were grown in North Carolina and two have come out of Peak Farms in 2008 and 2012.
4. Way-too-early Queen City holiday preview: The best light displays in Charlotte, part 2
Oh, you thought we'd leave you hanging with only a few thousand LEDs from yesterday? Think again! The Queen City has far more low-watt bulbs to see than what we alluded to, so come, take our hand, and follow us through the snow as we detail another three light-up attractions in the area.
- Speedway Christmas at Charlotte Motor Speedway — Nov. 19 through Jan. 16, 6 to 10 p.m.
The entire racetrack will be dolled up with over four million Christmas lights starting on Friday. Through Jan. 16, Charlotteans will be able to get some festive road rash each night between 6 and 10 p.m. The lights get brighter or darken in time with music, and tickets start at $30 for a carload.
- Hillside Avenue light displays — through Dec. 26
The tall oaks and other trees found on this Myers Park road afford residents plenty of opportunities to light up the sky, and they take them. Driving around the intersection of Hillside Avenue and Chelsea Drive, Charlotteans can take a look at what different households have done with their yards and even donate a few dollars. All the money raised through the Hillside Holiday Hunger Drive Through goes to a local food bank called Loaves & Fishes.
- Harbin Family Christmas Lights at 10223 Summer House Court in Charlotte — through Dec. 26, 6 to 10 p.m.
A nativity scene, dozens of character standees and hundreds of luminarias have helped the Harbins raise over $16,000 for the Make-A-Wish foundation since the family started collection donations in 2014. The charity has gifted the family trips to Disney theme parks in the past.