Santa makes surprise appearance downtown to announce holiday events

By Rozella Hardin
STAR Staff
rhardin@starhq.com

   Santa Claus made a surprise visit to downtown Elizabethton Monday and offered a helping hand to the men working on the Elk Avenue Bridge.
   Santa Claus came to town to announce local holiday events sponsored by the Elizabethton-Carter Chamber of Commerce, the first of which is only a week away. The annual lighting of the Fraser fir will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. However, festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. with music by choral groups from the Elizabethton City School System and Loretta Bowers Newton, soloist. The switch to turn the Fraser fir lights on will be thrown by Duncan Street, president of the Chamber.
   Following the lighting of the Fraser fir, there will be a flag-raising ceremony. A large American flag will be lifted high into the air from a crane on location at the Chamber of Commerce. "This is a very spectacular display and very fitting since we still have a lot of troops in places like Afghanistan and Iraq," said Bob Cable, downtown businessman, who is coordinating the flag-raising ceremony for the Chamber.
   On Saturday, Nov. 22, Santa will make his official holiday visit to downtown, riding in the annual Christmas parade. Parade time is 5 p.m., and the theme of this year's parade is "Night Before Christmas." Elizabethton Police Chief Roger Deal said that due to the construction on the Elk Avenue Bridge, the parade route this year has been changed.
   The parade will begin on West Elk Avenue near the old Paty location. Units will be lined up on the side streets. Parents whose children will be in the parade are asked to drop them off at the Farm Bureau parking lot or on C Street behind the Farm Bureau.
   The parade will proceed east on Elk Avenue, disbanding at the intersection of Riverside Drive and Elk Avenue. Bands will turn south onto Riverside Drive, while floats will turn north on Riverside and travel up E Street to their starting location to disband.
   "We will have officers at strategic intersections. However, we don't expect any traffic problems. In fact, with the parade going with the normal flow of traffic, we expect less problems," said Chief Deal. "We'd like to do it this way all the time, as it makes it easier when it goes with the flow of traffic," the Chief noted.
   Both Chief Deal and Street, Chamber president, said the biggest problem with the closed Elk Avenue Bridge has been the inconvenience it has caused. "It is one of those things that is necessary, and we have to make the best of it," said Deal.
   Street said the deadline to have an entry in the parade is Wednesday, Nov. 19. The entry fee this year is $10, which will go to the Community Christmas Basket Fund. Floats will be judged again this year. There will be several divisions, among them commercial, non-commercial, church, etc.
   This year's parade marshal will be Willie Church, former Elizabethton City School educator, who is active with the Elizabethton Twins. Church is employed this year at Providence Academy in Johnson City, but is well-known to Elizabethton students and parents.
   On Jan. 10, the Chamber will sponsor the annual Chipping of the Greens, which will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Sycamore Shoals Park. "We invite everyone to bring their Christmas tree, and have it made into mulch," said Street.