Santa makes a stop in Betsy Town

Photo by John Bryant
Santa Claus brings up the rear at the parade.

By Abby Morris-Frye
star staff
  Jolly Ol' Saint Nick came to town Saturday evening riding atop an Elizabethton Fire Department fire truck along with members of the Elizabethton City Council.
  The annual Christmas Parade made its way through the Historic Downtown of Elizabethton Saturday evening beginning at 5 p.m. and lasting until nearly 6:30 p.m.
  More than 80 floats and presentations took part in the parade. Saturday also marked the first time ever that an airplane was featured in the parade as the Elizabethton Municipal Airport used a small aircraft as part of its float.
  The theme for this year's parade was "Christmas Around the World" and many floats featured participants dressed up in different national costumes from around the world. The presentation from Moody Aviation featured a display of different national flags from around the world.
  The parade was led by members of the Elizabethton Police Department and Carter County Sheriff John Henson and his wife, Kathy Henson. Following their vehicles, came the car bearing the Grand Marshall of this year's parade, Joe Alexander, who is a downtown businessman and an active member in the Downtown Business Association.
  The floats entered into the parade were divided into three categories -- service, commercial and church -- and prizes were awarded for the best float in each category.
  Little Doe Free Will Baptist won the top prize honors in the church category with their message that "From the cradle to the cross, He's got the whole world in his hands." Riders on the float tossed candy to the crowd which lined East Elk Avenue and sang the children's song "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."
  First place in the service category was awarded to the Carter County American Cancer Society Relay For Life. Their float featured a Christmas tree decorated with purple ribbons, the symbol for Relay For Life.
  The Elizabethton Veterinary Clinic took first place in the commercial category.
  Historic re-enactors from Sycamore Shoals State Park also took part in the parade with a float and historic re-enactors also walked along the parade route and on more than one occasion fired off black powder muskets.
  The parade also featured local dance teams, cheerleaders from the County and City schools and members of the various school athletics teams.
  Emergency service personnel also appeared in the parade as the Carter County Rescue Squad, the Stoney Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Roan Mountain Volunteer Fire Department, Hampton-Valley Forge Volunteer Fire Department, Central Volunteer Fire Department, West Carter Volunteer Fire Department and Watauga Volunteer Fire Department all displayed their emergency vehicles.
  School bands were also represented, as the marching bands of T.A. Dugger Junior High School, Happy Valley High School, Cloudland High School, Unaka High School and Hampton High School entertained the folks gathered along the parade route.
  The Elizabethton High School band was the last band featured in the parade, and they led in the fire truck bearing Santa Claus himself.