Elizabethton celebrates annual Fraser Fir lighting

Tuesday evening, residents of Elizabethton gathered to celebrate the annual Fraser Fir tree lighting as the holidays approach, and though the atmosphere was bright and cheerful, part of the celebration was bittersweet, as this will be the last time the Chamber of Commerce will host and organize the event.

Executive Director Tonya Stevens said the event was very festive.

“There was a lot of positive energy,” Stevens said. “We had a good crowd. It was a great atmosphere.”

The festivities went from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Tuesday and featured musical performances from Sycamore Shoals State Park and Elizabethton High School. The national anthem came from the Happy Valley High School Trumpeters and members of the city’s new Main Street Program’s executive board officially turned on the lights, including Frankie Bailey, Kathy Shoun, Rachel Barker, Chris Cannon and Patti Whitson.

Stevens said her favorite part of the evening was watching the community get excited about everything.

“It is always good when we do the countdown,” she said. “They are all smiles when all of the sudden the lights come on.”

The event comes roughly a week after the chamber formally announced it will no longer host several long-standing community events, such as the lighting and the parade in December.

“We know we are still going to have involvement,” she said. “It is going to be picked up.”

She said she is confident the events themselves, including the lighting, will not go away.

“There are some great opportunities,” Stevens said.

The chamber has hosted the event for as long as Stevens has worked there, at minimum. She said they are currently working to rewire the lighting on the tree, seven or eight years after their previous efforts.

“This is a time for the community to rally around,” she said.

She said the chamber looks forward to seeing who carries the torch for next year’s lighting.

“We are excited to see the next group,” Stevens said. “Someone may have a brighter vision.”

In the meantime, the tree still glows brilliantly as the sun goes down. Amid the discussions about who will be doing it next year, this year’s celebration, Stevens said, was great.

“It was a wonderful evening,” she said. “The spirit was so alive.”

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