Hot apple cider, good food, beautiful music and warm lights open the Christmas holiday season in Downtown Elizabethton

Published 12:20 pm Monday, November 21, 2022

By Larry N. Souders
Star Correspondent
There was a winter chill in the air Saturday evening but that didn’t stop hundreds of area residents from attending the 32nd annual lighting of the giant Fraser fir tree at the Folsom House on the east side of Downtown Elizabethton.
Everyone was wrapped up in their warmest winter gear and there were a lot of bright red cheeks on those who came to celebrate a Carter County tradition.
The evening was kicked off by members of the Sycamore Shoals Carolers, dressed in Colonial period costumes and singing traditional carols. Following them on stage was a choir of students from Harold McCormick Elementary singing a few more modern holiday favorites.
For the second year in a row, Carter County Bank President Andrew McKeehan was the master of ceremonies. He introduced the Happy Valley High School Brass Ensemble, who performed a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem.
Each year, during the lighting ceremony of the Folsom Family’s Fraser fir, a brief history of how the tree came to be planted in Elizabethton is recounted to the crowd. This year the honor of telling its history fell to Hadley Vines, who shared some amazing facts about this beautiful tree.
“This is the 32nd year of the lighting of our Community’s Christmas Tree. This tree and the Folsom Household has such significant history for Carter County,” Vines told the crowd. “The two-story clapboard house was owned by Major H.M. Folsom. The story says that in the late 1860s, the Folsom family went up Roan Mountain and brought home several Fraser fir saplings that they planted on each side of their home. This nearly 80-foot-tall 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.”
After Vines left the stage, McKeehan welcomed the Bowers Family and Friends to the stage where they continued the evening entertainment with both traditional and contemporary Christmas music.
Dr. Danny Smith’s family was chosen to honor “Dr.D,” who passed away in April, as the tree lighters. Dr. Danny was a fixture on the Elizabethton High School sports sidelines for 40-plus years, helping not only Cyclones recover from their injuries but many others in the area, a tradition now carried on by his son, Dr. Justin Smith. With the crowd joyously counting down from ten, Dr. Smith’s grandsons, Knox Collake and Holsten Smith, sounded the train whistle signaling the lighting of the tree and officially kicking off the Christmas season in Elizabethton and all of Carter County.
After the event, everyone was invited to the Covered Bridge Park to take part in the Candy Cane Quest and to Cat Island for numerous other holiday treats.

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