Asheville Holiday Parade just one of many special events the City permits

This week, organizers of the Asheville Holiday Parade are making their list and checking it twice. The extravaganza that steps off at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 21, is an exercise in massive organization. The parade features nearly 100 entries, ranging from marching bands to floats by community organizations, dance troupes, cheer squads and area businesses.

At Asheville City Hall, Jon Fillman is engaged in helping to organize the parade, but in another way. For Fillman is the guy you see when you need a permit for an outdoors special event in the City of Asheville. He’s a logistics expert well versed in what it takes to pull off the large festivals that happen here, everything from half marathons to Art in the Park, Downtown After 5 and more.

As with other large events, Fillman works with multiple City departments to ensure the right streets are closed and there is the proper security in place. Talk to him about the Asheville Holiday Parade and he produces a dizzying matrix of logistics.

“First there are the street closures,” he said. The three main streets closed for the parade are Charlotte, Biltmore and Patton avenues.
“In order to do that we have to close many adjoining streets, creating a lot of traffic blocks,” Fillman said. For the parade, there will be some 25 streets closed or impacted in some way. That will entail putting up 63 barricades, including six larger water-filled barriers.

Fillman works with the Streets division to ensure that 150 traffic cones are put out for the parade. He’ll work with Asheville Police to see that 112 officers are on hand to provide escorts and security. Finally, he employs the assistance of the Sanitation division to round up two street sweeper trucks that will clear the streets of candy and confetti following the fun.

Free rides to the Asheville Holiday Parade
The Asheville City Government in partnership with the Asheville Downtown Association is giving away FREE ART transit rides to the 2015 Asheville Holiday Parade! Find out more here.

Beyond the parade
Permitting outdoor special events is a full-time job for Jon Fillman, whose official title is Economic Development Specialist.
There were just under 400 permitted special events this year. Not all of them are as large as the parade. Smaller cause walks and 5K’s fall under his domain. But so does the Asheville Drum Circle, a weekly event permitted by the Asheville Downtown Association.
Besides permitting events and nailing down logistics, Fillman’s job also extends to considering how these events impact local businesses and neighborhoods.

“We want to help create multifaceted events that incorporate indoor space events with local businesses as well as the outdoor aspects,” he said. “Moogfest was one. LEAF Downtown was one this year with a VIP component in Twisted Laurel and a cocktail crawl leading up to the festival. This is an example of a festival finding a revenue stream to support a free component.”

Most festivals are faced with limited ways to generate revenue, usually through vendor booth sales, beer sales and merchandise.
“That’s why we see so many events that have beer as a component, because that’s one of the ways to cover the costs of a festival,” Fillman explained.

Fillman does not decide whether a special event application is permitted in a vacuum. He coordinates a review team made up of multiple city departments ranging from police to parks to risk management. They have to consider parking capacity, and whether transit routes might be affected among other things.

Permitting your event

  • The City requires an application six weeks for an event up to 3,000.
  • An application is required 90 days in advance for events over 3,000 people.
  • Applications are accepted as early as 10 months in advance of an event.
  • Fees are nominal and they vary. There are late fees as well. View the fee schedule here: Outdoor events fees.
  • For more information, visit the City of Asheville Outdoor Special Events page, email Jon Fillman at or call 828-259-5738.


Permitting outdoor special events is a full-time job for Jon Fillman, whose official title is Economic Development Specialist.
Permitting outdoor special events is a full-time job for Jon Fillman, whose official title is Economic Development Specialist.