Tree Streets yard sale makes a worthy Johnson City tradition

Johnson City Press • Sep 7, 2018 at 8:00 AM

How many years in a row would you have to do something to call it a tradition? Three? Five? Maybe 10?

We think 29 certainly qualifies.

That’s how long residents in the historic Tree Streets neighborhood have been sorting through their garages and attics for a massive annual community yard sale.

Droves of people descend on south Johnson City every year in hopes of finding that prized sideboard for the dining room or those gently used baby clothes for cousin Martha’s new granddaughter. Some even camp out in their cars overnight to get first dibs.

The neighborhood’s position adjacent to East Tennessee State University makes it a natural draw for students looking to supplement their wardrobes or furnish their apartments, but the Tree Streets yard sale draws visitors from all over the Tri-Cities and beyond.

Good luck finding a parking spot today during early sales and Saturday for the big event. The Southside Neighborhood Organization, which manages the sale each year, estimates that 15,000 shoppers will comb through goods from 150 participating neighbors this year.

Of course, the neighbors will be stuffing their piggy banks this weekend, but you’ll also have a chance to aid several philanthropic efforts, as local charities, churches, school groups take advantage of the sale to raise funds.

As Staff Writer Hannah Swayze reported in Thursday’s edition, one such effort is from the Johnson City chapter of PEO, the Philanthropic Educational Organization, an international group that provides scholarships to women to return to school.

One member of the “PEO Sisterhood” described the annual event as a “yard sale on steroids.” That’s putting it mildly.

Many of Johnson City’s old traditions have fallen by the wayside over the years. In the ’40s and ’50s, for example, the town was known as the home of the Burley Bowl, a Thanksgiving day collegiate football game in complete with a downtown parade. It marked the opening of the Burley tobacco market season, which was once a vital part of the local economy. The event vanished after the 12th game in 1956.

So it’s nice to see a Johnson City tradition carry on for nearly 30 years. Kudos to the Southside Neighborhood Association for keeping such a massive undertaking going at full speed.

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