Christmas Tree in Progress, Knoxville, November 2016
Yesterday, as I pulled on my parka, buttoned up, pulled on the hood and stepped outside, the freezing temperatures stung me like a hard accusation. As my breath curled and furled around me, freezing to my unshaven stubble, I cursed the cold. Stepping gingerly over patches of ice I stepped onto the city streets in search of signs of the pending holidays.
Or at least that would be true in an alternate universe. As we approach our holiday season, the temperature reached 82 degrees on November 2. The high on the same day last year was 66. The previous year the high was 50. Imagine yesterday, only 32 degrees colder. We’re promised cooler weather by tomorrow, but I’ll have to feel it through my parka to believe it.
Signs of the holidays are, however, starting to appear. The ice rink started construction this week, as did the city’s Christmas tree in Krutch park. If past performance is any indicator of future results, the Christmas tree should be completed well before the ice rink. And can you imagine trying to keep that ice skate-worthy in this weather? Impossible. It opens in just over three weeks (November 25). At least if the weather persists the rink-keepers won’t have the problems they had last year: We don’t do rain anymore around here.
This year you’ll find many of your favorite activities around downtown with a few fun twists thrown in, but I’ll get to those when it gets a little closer. In the meantime, you may have noticed our most prevalent shade of orange popping up on window-fronts around downtown and wondered, “What’s up with that?”
It turns out – for those of you completely disconnected from the hometown Vols – this is homecoming week. UT will play Tennessee Tech this Saturday afternoon in what turns out to be the 100th celebration of homecoming. For more than 50 years, the occasion has been marked by, among other things, a lawn decorating contest. This year they went in a different direction with a “Paint the Town Orange” contest supported by 23 downtown businesses. Judging for the contest, as it turns out, is this afternoon at 5:30 PM. Be sure to check out their work.
An additional and very cool homecoming activity will be held downtown this weekend: The homecoming concert will take place on the Market Square Stage at 8:00 PM. Opener will be Knoxville’s own Cereus Bright who headlined a recent Bijou Show. The headliner for the Market Square show will be Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.
I hope you’ll support all these UT/Downtown connections. It’s important, I believe, for UT students to see Knoxville as their city. We need the brightest and most talented among them to stay in the city after their graduations and help us make Knoxville a better place.