Christmas celerations - minus the Grinch

Cities, county will sparkle with Christmas spirit

Thank goodness for art clubs and Adopt-a-schools. Without them, there might be a Grinch at the Festival of Trees.

Not that we would intend to be -- we being Blount Today. It’s just that without the help of the Maryville High School Art Club, the Sponsor Tree at Festival of Trees probably would not look so lovely when Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham flips the switch at the courthouse on Thursday, Dec. 3.

Blount Today is the sponsor for Hometown Christmas, something we have been doing since we first opened our doors in August of 2004. We love being a part of the four events that make up Hometown Christmas: H.O.M.E. for Christmas at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Center; Springbrook Splendor at Springbrook Park; Christmas at the Courthouse and the City of Maryville Tree Lighting. Hometown Christmas reflects so well who we are at Blount Today and our commitment to all things that are good for this community.

Certainly celebrating the cities and county bathed in the beauty and spirit of Christmas is good for this community! It’s just that with a sponsorship comes a few responsibilities. First there is a financial donation, which we are happy to do. Second, there are some ceremonial duties at each event, which we are thrilled to do. But third, there is that beautiful Sponsor Tree on the steps of the Blount County Courthouse that needs decorating.

We tried decorating a smaller tree one year. It was pretty sad. It seems that, with the exception of Tessa Bright Wildsmith, our graphics director, tree decorating isn’t our strong suit. Tessa could do it if we would leave her alone, and if it didn’t come at the busiest time of the year for her, as special sections pop up and Monday Morning Quarterback gets intense.

If you would like for us to write about decorating a tree, or photograph beautiful trees or launch a community campaign to honor a tree, hey, we’re there. But actually deciding a theme and choosing ornaments or, gasp, actually making decorations, well, it would just be embarrassing.

Every year the Maryville High School Art Club comes to our rescue. MHS is Blount Today’s Adopt-a-School and decorating the Sponsor tree is one of the main things we ask of the school when they so graciously say, “Now, what can we do for you?”

We let art teachers Raquel Roy and Cathy Finney handle everything -- and I do mean everything -- for the Sponsor tree, and we have never been disappointed!

Under their leadership, the students have come up with inexpensive, fun decorations that we are proud to put our name on. Pretty sure that wouldn’t be true if we were left to our own devices.

Blount Today photographer Jolanda Jansma dropped in on the Art Club last week to see what they were up to. It looks like we have a Gingerbread theme going this year. And the dedicated students looked like they were having a good time while they worked on the decorations. All I remember about the year we did our small tree -- not even the Sponsor Tree -- is that everyone was complaining about how cold it was, and why did we have to have lights anyway? The candy canes were a mess, and the decorations were either too small to have any ummph or too big and overpowered everything else.

I think a Gingerbread theme sounds wonderful. We hope you will come out on Dec. 3 and see what a great job the students do with our tree. We’ll take full credit, of course. At least for having the sense to get talented high school students and teachers to do it for us!

Over at East Tennessee Medical Group, they chose a theme that is very close to their hearts for their Festival of Trees entry, and a story about their tree is above. And the courthouse lawn will be filled with 36 beautiful trees that reflect personal, community, seasonal and heartfelt themes. Be sure to take time to walk through the beautiful forest. The lights will be on nightly until after Christmas.

Lance Coleman’s story on the four Hometown Christmas events follows. Don’t miss a single one of them! It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season. No Grinches allowed!

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