Christmas at the Franks

Couple spread cheer to grandkids and beyond

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It all started with a few lights on a tree in the front yard of Benton and Mary Frank.

Benton got it all started, his children say, and now it has grown to be a three-evening event that welcomes the whole community.

The Franks decorate their home at 1350 Tuckaleechee Trail, Maryville, in a grand way. There are lights everywhere and scenes that will catch visitors’ fancy. But the Franks don’t stop with a light parade for friends and neighbors to just gaze at through their car windows. Beginning at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 21, and continuing nightly through Dec. 23, the Franks open their front yard for a holiday party. The party lasts until the crowds stop coming!

Santa and the Misses will be there. There will be rides around the yard, hot chocolate and coffee, and everyone who stops by receives a free gift.

The festive activity, say the Franks, "spread the true meaning of Christmas, which is the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." A focal point in the family’s decorations is a small church front with a Nativity scene that tells the story of the first Christmas.

This family event is certainly still for the Frank grandchildren -- Gracie Frank, Hope Sharpe and JB Sharpe, but it has expanded beyond the family to the community. Each year visitors have the opportunity to sign a guest book. In 2004, 60 people signed the book. Last year, the list grew to 168 names.

This year, the couple hope for more than 200 names. The family uses the addresses to mail out flyers and other information on the gathering to those who have visited before.

To visit and add your presence to this gift to their friends, neighbors and community, take 321 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, go past Blount Memorial Hospital for approximately 3 miles then turn right onto Tuckaleechee Trail. The Frank home is the 5th on the left.

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