Sycamore Shoals State Park to tour holiday traditions, history at Carter Mansion

With the advent of a new year right around the corner, people are already beginning to look at the future and what it may bring. Sycamore Shoals, however, also hopes to take a look at the past and see what lessons they can glean from it.

Sycamore Shoals State Park is giving an opportunity for people to back up their talk of New Year’s resolutions of exercise by hosting a “First Footing” at the Carter Mansion on January 1.

Park Ranger Corbin Hayslett said the event is part of a series of holiday-themed hikes the park hosts throughout the year.

“This is an interpretative walk through the Carter Mansion to learn how people celebrated the holidays in the past,” Hayslett said.

Hayslett said the hike/tour is meant to highlight how closely connected current holiday traditions are to their old-time roots, highlighting how little they have actually changed.

“It is a great way for people to get in touch with local history,” he said. “It is humanizing to see how we still recognize many of them.”

He said this connection to history improves the decisions people make in the future because it teaches them an important lesson.

“Dad always said to learn from your mistakes,” Hayslett said. “This applies to history as well. You know the saying ‘Nothing new under the Sun.’”

This year, he said the tour will focus more on the New Year’s traditions and less on Christmas. In addition, this will be visitors’ first chance to see the new exhibits in the Mansion’s new visitor center.

“The tour is a good reference,” he said of the history people can learn from the mansion. “It is sobering to see where we have been and where we are going.”

The event is free and open to the public, though pre-registration is necessary. Those interested can sign up at tnstateparks.com/parks/sycamore-shoals, though slots are limited.

“The tour is completely free,” Hayslett said. “The park is funded by and for the state.”

He said he hoped their enthusiasm for the area and its history rubs off on the visitors who tour the park and mansion.

“Some folks think we are all business because of the uniform,” he said. “We are here to have fun, too.”

The Carter Mansion is located at 1031 Broad St., and the park currently plans to begin the tour at about 9 a.m.

“It is important for people to have a relationship with their history,” Hayslett said.

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