I hope each of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. Mine was very good as I was surrounded by family for the entire week. My ideas about what we’d do were probably a bit ambitious, which I should have realized considering our gathering included an eight-month-old all the way to an eighty-two-year-old. Various ones in between were a bit under-the-weather, but we had a great time, though perhaps a quieter one than would have otherwise been the case.
I was able to get urban father and his wife to the Blue Plate with Jay Clark, which they loved, so I down-loaded a batch of Jay’s music to form the soundtrack for the holiday. We didn’t play “Alice’s Restaurant,” though we did speak fondly of the 50th anniversary and of Arlo. Urban Brother and I didn’t make it out to some of the music I’d hoped, but we did enjoy an extensive late-night Paul Simon binge.
Urban Father and a small group of us made our way to the top of the city one night to enjoy the moon and had a good time. I did get my Thanksgiving walk in – actually a couple of them. Urban Girl and I went on the first and enjoyed exploring the TVA plaza overlooking Market Square and the hillside beside Immaculate Conception and the Duncan Law School. I protested the unfairness of the fact that she rode her horse the whole way while I had to walk.
Some alignment or another of us did get out for the Regal Celebration of Lights and the Fantasy of Trees. I’m loving having the lights on the trees in Krutch Park and Market Square and I wouldn’t mind seeing the white ones on the trees year-round. It feels very Stars Hollow (sorry, Gilmore Girls was a guilty pleasure for me). The new Christmas tree is taller (42 feet) and includes 3600 LED lights, making it more energy efficient and capable of changing light colors. I know not everyone is crazy about LED, but I like it.
The lighting of the tree was fun, as always, with Mayor Rogero and Santa doing the heavy lifting. Unfortunately, as in past years, there were technical glitches. When the countdown reached “zero” nothing happened for another five seconds or so. When the announcer pronounced the fireworks completed, they resumed after a few seconds. The sound was cut off leaving the Pond Gap Elementary students (who were cute as they could be) to sing their final chorus without amplification.
The production could use some work before next year. I’d vote for a new entrance for Santa, who arrives on a fire engine completely out-of-sight of 99% of the crowd. Maybe have him fly in? Still, the crowd had fun and it was about as big a crowd as I remember for the event. We checked out the skaters in the new open-air version of the skating rink. It seems to be getting a thumbs-up from everyone I’ve spoken to. We weren’t able to stay for the Ho-ho-hoedown and we aren’t dietetically approved for funnel cake, so we skipped that.
The Fantasy of Trees seemed to have improved its already pretty good game. Nice little touches were either added or caught my attention for the first time. Stars flashing LED lights hung from the ceiling and added nicely to the attractiveness of the event. There seemed to be more greenery around and that made it feel a bit more classy and I appreciate the addition of good coffee for the grown-ups. I also liked the rustic theme that ran throughout – including “front porches” decorated for the holidays. The guys from Rock Paper Hair Studio threw in a porch and a tree that we spotted.
The carousel is beautiful and, my brother pointed out, has to be expensive, so thank you for bringing that back each year. Urban Girl loves it and looks forward to it. She also loves all the activities and that is a strong point for the event. Children’s activities from cookie and (tiny) tree decorating to face and fingernail painting and the chance to diagnose and treat a stuffed-animal all caught her attention.
I’ve got a fascination with the gingerbread trees that not everyone in my family shares, but I’m glad that’s included. I don’t remember them being made by culinary programs at the various local schools, though that may have been the case previously and I just didn’t notice. Some of them, as you can see, were spectacular.
And so, I’m willing to let go of Thanksgiving and move into Christmas. I love the traditions of the city and I like the fact that the Christmas traditions leave a little space for that quiet little holiday before the explosion of our biggest season. Now it’s on to shopping (please do it with small, local businesses) – we did some of that, too, at Union Avenue Books, Tree and Vine and Folly – and all the other great holiday traditions like the window decorating contest, the Old North Victorian Home Tour, the Nutcracker performances, the Christmas Parade this Friday night and more. There are also new events like Holiday in the Holler and more. I’ll hope to see you out and about and if you miss it, watch for it here.