ELIZABETHTON – Saturday will mark the start of the Christmas season in downtown Elizabethton, as that’s when the traditional lighting of the 78-foot-tall Frazier Christmas tree will take place.
Tree lighting is always a bright spot for the Carter County holiday season. The lighting is also the time when the “Merry Christmas” sign and Christmas tree atop Lynn Mountain, facing downtown, will also take place.
This year’s lighting of Tennessee’s tallest Fraser fir will be sponsored by Carter County Bank and will take place on Saturday instead of the traditional weekday event, but the rest of the traditions are pretty much intact.
The event will start around 5 p.m. in the courtyard of the Maj house. Henderson Folsom at 824 E. Elk Ave.
Carter County Bank President Andrew McKeehan said some of the highlights of the program will be Christmas carols by the Harold McCormick Elementary School Choir and songs performed by the Bowers family. The national anthem will be performed by trumpeters from Happy Valley High School. Other songs will be performed by the Carolers of Sycamore Shoals State Historic Park. A short lecture on the history of the tree will be presented by Luke and Lily Anglim.
McKeehan said the honor of flicking the switch to light the tree was given this year to Army Major Margaret Eggers, who recently returned from Afghanistan. Lighting should take place around 6 p.m.
Unlike older tree lights, the fun doesn’t end with the lighting. Instead of heading home, people will head to the nearby Covered Bridge Park, where the Kid’s Candy Cane Quest will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Kelly Kitchens, of the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department program and special events coordinator, said the event would look like an Easter egg hunt, but kids would be looking for candy canes in the dark. Kitchens said Santa and his reindeer dropped all of their candy canes in the park.
Kitchens said Carter County Bank is also sponsoring the event and will provide 250 flashlights to the first 250 attendees. Bags will also be provided to collect the candy canes and the bank will offer prizes to the winners.
In addition to the quest, the bank will also be offering a free downtown carriage ride to see the lights, the Fraser Fir Christmas tree, and the Covered Bridge starting at 6:30 p.m. Carter County Bank will be bringing Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to the park during this time. In case it gets too crowded for everyone to see Santa Claus or ride in a horse-drawn carriage this Saturday, the event will be offered for the next four weekends.
The schedule for the remaining Saturdays until Christmas:
November 27: Events will move to Edwards Island as a portable ice rink will be in place at Covered Bridge Park. The island will be converted into an open-air cinema for the screening of “The Polar Express”. Activities begin at 4 p.m. with free kids’ train rides, marshmallow roasting, and hot chocolate until 5:30 p.m. when the movie begins. Bring a blanket or lawn. Horse-drawn carriage rides and visits with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus will also take place. The event will end around 7:30 p.m.
December 4: Christmas in Oz will be held at Covered Bridge Park from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Participants will meet the characters of Oz and have a unique way to celebrate the holiday. Horse-drawn carriage rides and return of Father Christmas and Mother Christmas.
December 11: The annual Christmas Parade, with the theme “Christmas on the Big Screen”, will be held from 6 pm to 8 pm. The deadline to apply to be part of the parade is November 28. The Covered Bridge Park will be a fun parade place. “Christmas at the Covered Bridge Park” will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. as a pre-parade event. It will feature free horse-drawn carriage rides and Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus. The story with Santa Claus will take place from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. There will also be Christmas music and a Christmas village and light show.
December 18: The events for that day are yet to be determined but the horse-drawn carriage rides and visits by Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus may not take place. What is certain is that the Grinch will be involved in destroying the remaining gingerbread bridges of the Chamber of Commerce Gingerbread Bridge Contest. There will also be a snowball fight with the Abominable Snowman.