If the Hometown Christmas celebrations in Blount County have a silvery hue this year, it is rightly deserved. It’s the Silver Anniversary of the celebration -- having started 25 years ago with a single event and growing over the years to the four-event celebration it is today.
The Maryville-Alcoa-Blount County Parks and Recreation Department is gearing up for their 17th Annual Hometown Christmas, but the event began 25 years ago with a tree lighting ceremony for the city of Maryville. Changes were made by the Parks & Rec in 1991 to include holiday celebrations events in Alcoa and Blount County under the name of “Hometown Christmas.”
Planners say it’s a perfect time to take a break from the stress of political campaigns, economic meltdowns and everyday stressors.
Cookie Crowson of the Blount County Parks and Recreations says, “The most important thing we want to stress is the opportunity to take a break from stressful situations in our lives and come together as a community for a couple of hours of fun and fellowship.”
One of the more recent events to be added to Hometown Christmas was the first annual H.O.M.E for Christmas event hosted in 2007 by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community, the Hall Old Field Maryville Empowerment Inc., and the Charles M. Hall Class of 1968.
Crowson says one change the public should know is where Santa Claus will be for his traditional pictures with children. At the Illumination of the Greenbelt in Maryville on
Monday, Dec. 8, Santa will be posing for free digital photos with children inside the Blount County Library. In the past Santa always was on hand at the Gazebo on McCammon, but this year Santa and the children who visit will be in much warmer accommodations at the library.
Crowson says there will 39 decorated lighted trees displayed on the lawn of the Blount County Courthouse. “This is exactly the same number of trees we had last year” says Cookie, “We were concerned we might not have as many this year but the number was the same.”
The events scheduled for a Hometown Christmas are:
H.O.M.E. for Christmas
The Martin Luther King Community Center, Hall Old Field Maryville Empowerment, Inc., and the Charles M. Hall Class of 1968 second annual H.O.M.E. for Christmas event scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29. Activities include refreshments, music, the lighting of the Martin Luther King Community Center Tree and activities for the children.
H.O.M.E. Inc. also has available “In Memory of/In Honor” of Snowflake ornaments available to hang on the tree donated by The Charles M. Hall Alumni Class of 1968 for a fee of $2. Anyone interested in purchasing an ornament may call Kay Tate at 865-983-5779.
The lighting of the City of Alcoa Christmas Tree will highlight Springbrook Splendor at 6:15 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 1 (rain date Dec. 2) in the Upper Fields area of Springbrook Park where the trails will be lit with luminaria. Following the ceremony, there will be special music, refreshments, visits with Santa Claus and train rides for the children.
Festival of Trees
Christmas at the Courthouse will take place 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 at the Blount County Courthouse with the Festival of Trees.
The lawn of the Blount County Courthouse will be illuminated with a display of 39 live Christmas trees of all sizes, colors and decorative themes. This month-long event allows the community to enjoy the festival either by driving by or walking through for a closer look.
The official opening of the festival will take place on the Courthouse lawn and will include music, refreshments, visits with Santa Claus and train rides for the children.
Illumination of the Greenbelt
The City of Maryville will have its Tree Lighting ceremony at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8 (rain date of Dec. 9) at the pedestrian bridge at Pistol Creek Station leading to the Library. The program will feature music, refreshments, a candy hunt for ages 2-12, visits with Santa Claus and more.