Main Street in Mountain City came to life this past Saturday as it was the setting for the annual Christmas parade. The lights on the Christmas trees up and down the street that are part of Light Up Mountain City were glowing and the air was festive with Johnson Countians offering each other Christmas greetings. Even the weather cooperated as the air was mild and the skies were clear.
The Christmas parade is sponsored by the Johnson County Chamber of Commerce. We didn't have as much response this year, said Nancy Drake, chairperson of the parade committee. For the past two years, the weather for the Christmas parade has been cold and snowy and Drake believes this had a direct impact on the number of businesses, organizations and churches that decided not to participate in this year's event.
Despite the smaller parade, Johnson Countians came out in record numbers to enjoy the festivities. Main Street was packed with people sitting in camping chairs, leaning against their cars and standing along the parade line as they awaited the start of the town's Christmas season. Hot chocolate and other goodies were offered at several locations.
The Johnson County Honor Guard led the parade and was soon followed by the Johnson County High School Color Guard and band. Doe Valley Elementary School cheerleaders, all decked out in Santa hats and their matching uniforms, were eagerly throwing candy from their float. Employees of Food Lion followed their large truck, handing out candy and bags of chips while giving hugs to their many customers. Even Smokey the Bear made an appearance as he waved to the crowd from his perch atop the United States Forest Service truck. Students and staff from Mountain Youth Academy were dressed in the University of Tennessee's orange and white colors. A colorful wooden train pulled adults and children down the parade route led by its own conductor. Many of the people on the floats threw candy, prizes and promotional items to the crowd.
There were approximately two dozen floats and participants at this year's Christmas parade. Dry Run, Trade Fire and Rescue, complete with Sparky the fire dog waving to the crowds, Laurel Bloomery, Butler, Neva and Doe Valley, as well as Mountain City and Johnson County Emergency Services made an appearance with their horns and sirens blasting through the air to the delight of many in the crowd. The Johnson County Cruisers rode in the parade with an impressive collection of makes and models of various vintage as well as newer cars.
The first place winner for the best decorated float in the non-profit category was awarded to Doe Elementary cheerleaders, with second place going to the Johnson County Knights organization. In the church category, first place was awarded to Rainbow Mennonite Church. Both God's Country Church and Pine Grove Church tied for second place. The floats are reviewed by out-of-town judges.
Everyone's favorite seemed to be that jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus. He made an impressive appearance in his horse-drawn white sleigh, decorated with greenery and bows and pulled by a striking white horse. As the parade came to an end, Santa meandered over to Donnelly Street and was spotted taking a left out onto 421, presumably heading back to the North Pole.
PICK UP A COPY OF THIS WEEK'S TOMAHAWK FOR COLOR PHOTOS FROM THE PARADE.