Cold weather can’t dampen spirits as city celebrates the 30th annual lighting of the Fraser Fir

Published 8:31 am Wednesday, November 14, 2018

A cold and damp night did nothing to chill the warm spirits of Elizabethton and the surrounding area as the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce light the giant Fraser Fir in front of the UT Extensions Office of Carter County, also known as the Folsom House.

Prior to the start of the event, people were offered hot cider to help ward off the cold of the evening by members of the Friends of Sycamore Shoals. They were also entertained by the Colonial Choral group of Sycamore Shoals.

Chamber President Chris Hitechew was the Master of Ceremony for the evening’s festivities. He opened the event by welcoming the large crowd of several hundred guests and offering an invocation calling on all to share the true meaning of the Christmas season not only during the holiday season but also throughout the year.

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The Happy Valley Trumpeters under the direction of band director Raymond Morton performed the National Anthem. Then Hitechew gave the crowd a little history lesson, telling the story of the tree that was being lit Tuesday evening.

“This is the 30th year of the lighting of our community’s Christmas tree. This tree and the Folsom Household such significant history for Carter County.” Hitechew continued, “ The two-story clapboard house was owned by Major H. M. Folsom. The story says that in the late 1860’s the Folsom family went up Roan Mountain and brought home several Fraser Fir saplings that they planted on each side of their home. This 78-foot tree standing before us is the largest Fraser Fir in the State of Tennessee and the second tallest in the country. It is the tallest decorated living Fraser Fir in the world, and it’s right here in Carter County.

Hitechew went on to say,  “The Chamber of Commerce is blessed to work with so many wonderful businesses and organizations that sponsor and participate in activities the Chamber hosts throughout the year. We would like to thank those who helped make this event happen each year.”

The Elizabethton High School Choral Group performed several different Christmas carols including Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht (Silent Night) in the original German language as they signed the song for the hearing impaired.

After a candle lighting ceremony by the UT Extension 4H Clubs, Hitechew introduced the main event. This year’s honorary “Lighter” was Joe Alexander and his wife Debbie. With the crowd counting down from 10 with Hitechew, Alexander threw the switch and the tree lit up to the oohs and ahhs of the crowd.

The evening’s festivities ended with a bang as the Washington County Regiment of the North Carolina Militia fired of a celebratory Christmas Musket Salute volley as the crowd headed home to start their holiday season.