Christmas in the City – Regal Festival of Lights?

Entrance to the Fantasy of Trees – Convention Center, Knoxville

I’m seeing both of the these titles thrown around for our seasonal celebration. I think the “Regal Festival of Lights” is just the lighting of the tree on Gay Street, etc., but I’m not sure. I like the less corporate “Christmas in the City,” myself, though I realize it doesn’t exactly acknowledge any but one religion. I guess in a public forum I think of it as more of a cultural holiday, but maybe I’m wrong. Besides, isn’t “Festival of Lights” minus the “Regal” part already taken by the folks who brought us Hanukkah? It seems like a copyright infringement issue at the least.

The Ice Rink as a baby – A large pile of dirt on Market Square

One gift of living in the city, as opposed to visiting it, as I’ve done for decades is that in walking about one sees the stories behind the stories. Who knew that the ice skating rink required so many people so much time to set up – or that it started with a layer of dirt?

Greenery being hung on Gay Street, Knoxville

Who knew how they got that garland up around downtown so high over the entry-ways to the buildings on Gay Street? Downtown residents knew. It’s been fun to see from that perspective this year. I had already moved last year, but I was probably emptying boxes in my new home while the decorations were being spread and hung about.

The Fantasy of Trees – too big to photograph, Convention Center, Knoxville

Friday of this week finally marked the official beginning of the celebration by any name. There was almost too much for a family to take in on that big day. The Fantasy of Trees in the convention center was flooded with people from the moment it opened and people continued to line up into the afternoon (and probably after, though I can’t personally verify that fact).

Skaters of all skill levels take to the ice – Market Square, Knoxville

The ice skating rink officially opened on Market Square and was busy from morning into the night.

Lights at the entrance to Krutch Park with vendors lining Market Street

Crafts were available for purchase on Market Street and into the western edge of Krutch Park. Of course, all the stores downtown were open and buzzing with their own versions of Black Friday festivities.

Fireworks and a lighted, 38 foot tree, Krutch Park, Knoxville

The culmination of the day came with the lighting of the 38 foot Christmas Tree on Krutch Park. The lighting was accompanied by fireworks and the whole thing was set off by Mayor/Governor-elect Haslam, Santa Claus and a couple of stray reindeer. Mickey Mallonee was thanked by Mayor Haslam for all her years of planning various festivities for the city, including this one. She retires as the celebration ends. In a measure of her level of service and commitment, she went from that lofty moment of exaltation all the way down to manning the information booth on Saturday morning.

Grace Baptist Praise Choir, Krutch Park, Knoxville

The night ended with a concert from the Grace Baptist Praise Choir on the Krutch Park stage and the Ho Ho Ho Down hosted by WDVX on the Market Square stage with several thousand people ice skating, shopping, drinking hot chocolate, eating funnel cakes and generally trying to stay warm in between the two.

Urban Baby says, “I was a cowgirl for Halloween and I’m a mummy for Christmas, right?”

Even the Weather Maker decided it should feel like Christmas. Maybe he wasn’t so mad, after all, about the misappropriation of his original Festival of Lights.