Tweetsie opens with fanfare

Published 8:50 am Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Star Photo/Rebekah Price This decorated downtown bike creatively honors the opening of the trail.

Star Photo/Rebekah Price This decorated downtown bike creatively honors the opening of the trail.

After a full day of pedaling along and strolling about the Tweetsie Trail Saturday, everyone gathered again at the Elizabethton High School Track for the announcement of event winners, fireworks and live music by Railroad Angels and Lonesome Rail.
Everyone who participated in the Treasure Ride or the Treasure Trip and received the appropriate number of tokens or passport stamps was entered to win a $500 grand prize of cash and gift certificates for each event. Ralph Johnston, 70, was the winner of the Treasure Ride, and Holly Adkins was the Treasure Trip winner.
Ken Gough, chairman of Carter County Parks and Recreation, said 75 to 100 riders participated in the Treasure Ride, followed by approximately 45 in the Bike Challenge, a competition between city officials of Johnson City and Elizabethton.
“We’ve had a steady stream of traffic, and everybody who’s been through here has been well-pleased,” Gough said. “We’re just absolutely thrilled about the usage.”
The Treasure Trip took place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., during which time, many traversed the trail, stopping at the five Golden Depots, as well as tables at which organizations and local businesses provided information, water and door prize opportunities.
Among the door prizes were three bicycles from Hampton Bike Shop, Horace Mann Insurance and the city of Elizabethton, an electric grill from the Elizabethton Electric System, a family pass to Doe River Gorge and Twins season tickets from the Elizabethton Parks and Recreation Department.
Not only did the activities along the new trail provide a chance to win prizes and get exercise, they were interactive and educational. Local organizations sponsored tents for the five Golden Depots of the Treasure Trip highlighting history, education, business, recreation and tourism.
At the history stop, historic reenactors from Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area donned early American clothing, played traditional games with passersby and let people “sign up for Carter’s Militia” using a quill pen.
Beside Elizabethton High School, at the education depot, cheerleaders taught a cheer to all who stopped.
The Chamber of Commerce sponsored the tourism table, at which, people answered the trivia question: On which rail line did the train which is now beside the Chamber of Commerce formerly run? The answer, of course, was the Tweetsie Railroad.
Members of the Downtown Business Association handed out coupons at their business depot, and children batted into an inflatable Twins tee ball game at the recreation stop, hosted by Elizabethton Parks and Recreation.
“It captures everything,” Parks and Rec Director Mike Mains said. “It’s the way of life in our community: You’ve got the businesses that can promote what they do and the families on the trail, and we’re already considering other things we could do along the trail.”
Though they had limited time to plan the event, Mains said the participation was much greater than what they had anticipated.
“It was a fantastic day,” he said. “We were extremely pleased with the numbers of participants and the families, that made us feel good. This was an event that all age groups could enjoy. Everywhere you looked, you saw families together and kids on bikes; it was really successful.”
He complemented David Nanny and Kelly Kitchens with Elizabethton Parks and Recreation, David McQheen and Garrett Johnson of the maintenance staff, and Danny Hilbert and his staff with the Street Department on the hard work and dedication that they put forth to make the event a success.
“We want to promote what we have to offer in Elizabethton and Carter County,” Mains said. “Each station and all these different groups, they are your community.”

To see photos of the Tweetsie Celebration fireworks display, visit

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