Hometown Christmas comes to Maryville

Move inside keeps crowds warm for Illumination of the Greenbelt

Santa, being used to the North Pole and all, probably didn’t think much about the weather outside on Monday, Dec. 6, when the clock said it was time for the Hometown Christmas 2010 Illumination of the Greenbelt.

The more than 400 people who gathered in the warm library and out of the mid-20s chill at the pedestrian bridge all seemed happy with Maryville Alcoa Blount County Parks & Recreation department’s decision to move from the Greenbelt’s Pistol Creek Station to the library.

The format was the same, with City of Maryville Mayor Tom Taylor pulling the switch to light the tree, which immediately lit up across the pedestrian bridge at Pistol Creek Station.

Entertaining the crowds were the choir from First United Methodist Church, the Parks and Rec Youth Dancers and the All That Jazz children’s choir. Master of Ceremonies was Walker Johnson.

Following the City of Maryville portion of the program, Broadway United Methodist Church took the reigns and presented the story of the symbols of Christmas and read the traditional Christmas story from Luke, Chapter 2.

Maryville City Councilman Fred Metz praised the folks who organized the Hometown Christmas events. The Dec. 6 was the final Hometown Christmas activity. H.O.M.E. for Christmas at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Community Center, Springbrook Splendor in Alcoa, Christmas at the Courthouse-Festival of Trees were held in the days before the Illumination of the Greenbelt.

“Parks and Rec always does a great job putting this together,” said Metz. “It’s a good activity, and it’s nice to have it inside. That was a good decision.”

Julie Hayes with Broadway United Methodist said the Illumination was a blessing and enjoyed the explanation of the symbols of Christmas. “That’s what Christmas is all about and why we celebrate the season,” she said.

Cassica and David Anderson were part of the standing-room only crowd. “I just love Christmas, and I love to hear people sing,” she said.

Buddy Kemper, who is in the National Guard, said his daughter Angel was performing with the Parks and Recreation dance troupe, and he appreciated being at the event. “This time last year I was in Afghanistan, so we’re soaking up all the family stuff we can,” he said. “You learn to appreciate family so much.”

Terry Wilson, director of the choir at First United Methodist Church in Maryville, led his choir as they sang for the audience. “This goes along with our mission statement of being transformed by Christ,” Wilson said. “We will tell, teach and touch the world for Christ. This might be the only time some hear something sacred about the season. Opportunities like this are important.”

Sanitation Santa arrived and took his place in a big red sleigh, talking to a long line of children about their Christmas wishes. The children received a free photo of themselves with Santa. The traditional candy hunt was modified with each child receiving a bag of candy. Free hot chocolate, coffee and cookies were served outside on the bridge.

All the Hometown Christmas activities are sponsored by Parks and Rec and Blount Today.

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