ELIZABETHTON — The Christmas season officially started in Elizabethton Tuesday evening when Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mains flipped the switch to turn on the lights to the 78-foot-tall community Christmas tree. It was the 25th anniversary of the lighting of the Fraser fir, said to be the largest living Christmas tree.
Even though the temperature was below freezing, a fairly large crowd braved the chill to watch the lighting and to hear the Elizbethton High School Choral Group and other musical groups sing and play the songs of the season.
It was a memorable night for Mains. Each year, one person from the community is selected to turn the tree’s lights on. Mains told the Johnson City Press last week that he considers it a great honor for him and the Parks and Recreation Department because it recognizes the hard work of his staff in meeting the recreational needs of the community.
Mains said it was one of the events that help make Elizabethton a special place to raise a family. He said he brought his children to the Christmas tree lightings ever since they were small. He said they always enjoyed it and they were happy that he had been chosen for the honor. Mains had fun with his grown children earlier in the day by sending a photograph to their email, which showed his hand preparing to turn on a light switch on a wall. His caption was that he was practicing for his big night.
The lighting went smoothly as did everything else with the event. Hot cider served by the Bonnie Kate Cafe was especially appreciated in the chilly weather and one of the singers, Miss Watauga Valley Brittany Kyte, helped keep the crowd a little warmer by allowing them to join her in singing “Jingle Bells.” She also sang one of the traditional songs of the event, “O Christmas Tree.”
As usual, the crowd appreciated the efforts of the EHS Choral Group under the direction of Debbie Gouge. The group sang several seasonal songs, including “Tennessee Christmas” which is becoming a signature song for the group at the event.
The Happy Valley High School Trumpets also performed. After the trumpeters completed the national anthem, the Washington County Regiment of the North Carolina Militia fired a volley to celebrate the arrival of the season.