Parade draws hundreds to downtown

By Abby Morris
and Rozella Hardin

   Hundreds of people lined Elk Avenue and battled the cold and wind to watch the annual Christmas parade Saturday evening.
   The theme for this year's parade, which was sponsored by Sprint Communications and planned by the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce, was "The Reason for the Season."
   The parade draws hundreds to the downtown business district every year. "The parade draws the biggest crowd of the year except for Covered Bridge Days," said a Chamber spokesperson.
   Lasting more than an hour and featuring more than 50 entries, the parade formed at the Veterans Monument on Elk Avenue and proceeded west to Lynn Avenue where it disbanded. It was led by officials from the City and Chamber of Commerce along with this year's parade marshal Ann Watts, owner of the Ann Watts Dance Studio, with old Santa Claus bringing up the rear as he rode a fire truck.
   This year's parade featured seven bands -- bands from Elizabethton High School, T.A. Dugger Junior High, Happy Valley Middle School, Happy Valley High School, Hampton High, Unaka High and Cloudland High. The bands treated the crowd to a variety of Christmas tunes.
   The parade also featured entries to delight both the young and the young at heart, including cheerleaders, dancers, clowns, ball teams, antique and vintage cars and fire trucks.
   A $10 parade entry fee was charged this year and the proceeds of that fee will go to benefit the Community Christmas Basket Fund.
   One entering group had members carry a large American Flag down the street while another group had members dressed like the characters from the movie "The Wizard of Oz." There was even a float dedicated in honor of the victims of the terrorists attacks in New York and Washington D.C. on Sept. 11, 2001.