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200,000 Twinkling Lights: City Employees Bring the Holiday Sparkle 
It wouldn’t quite be accurate to say that Downtown is being lit up with a dazzling light display this Christmas despite a global pandemic.

Rather, Downtown will be flooded in even more red and white lights, and street lights wrapped in greenery, because of it.

“We know a lot of families are disappointed that the big events – the WIVK Christmas Parade and Celebration of Lights – had to be canceled due to public safety concerns,” Special Events Director Judith Foltz says. 

“That’s why the City, the Downtown Knoxville Alliance and neighborhoods across the city were even more determined to make the 2020 version of Christmas in the City bigger and brighter. 

“Our celebration is a little different this year. Big crowds are out. But not much is diminished. In fact, the businesses and neighborhood folks are getting creative and making new traditions. 

“I’m proud of how the City has adapted and innovated while prioritizing public safety.”

Foltz, who is retiring at the end of this year, wanted her last Christmas in the City to be special.

“I’m thankful to an awful lot of hard-working and conscientious City employees,” she says. “I think we all wanted to pull together and see what we could do to close out an unprecedented and challenging year on a cheerful and hopeful high note.”

Public Service crews assembly the 42-foot holiday tree in Krutch Park Extension.

A few weeks ago, Public Service crews put up the City's 42-foot Christmas tree in Krutch Park Extension. The tree will be lit the week before Thanksgiving.

Public Service employees use a lift to install the top of the 42-foot Christmas tree.

A few things are new with this Christmas in the City: For example, the Downtown Knoxville Alliance kicked in $26,000 to create the Peppermint Grove. 

Red and white lights have been wrapped 30 feet high into the six Market Square trees and on 16 light posts in the area. That’s about three times more lighting than adorned the Square last year. Plus, the bistro lighting on the Square is being upgraded.

The Downtown Knoxville Alliance has added new lights and created a Peppermint Grove on Market Square. (Photo courtesy of Bruce McCamish)

The Downtown Knoxville Alliance has added new lights and created a Peppermint Grove on Market Square. (Photo courtesy of Bruce McCamish)

The aim is to create an intimate, festive outdoor dining area in the middle of Market Square. 

“It’s about creating a memorable space and adding some extra spark to downtown,” says Michele Hummel, the Alliance’s Executive Director.

Anticipate special holiday treats on the menus and shelves of downtown businesses participating in the Peppermint Trail. 

The Holidays on Ice skating rink has relocated from Market Square to the Civic Coliseum. The larger rink will allow skaters additional space to practice physical distancing while skating on the same ice where Knoxville Ice Bears play hockey.

Mary Costa Plaza has been newly decked out with lights and decorations.

There’s a new Drive-In at the Midway movie series at Chilhowee Park that features holiday films on two Fridays: “Elf” on Nov. 20, and “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” on Dec. 4.

And the Office of Special Events in collaboration with the Office of Neighborhoods is challenging Knoxville’s neighborhoods to show off their holiday fanfare for the first-ever Knoxville Neighborhood Holiday Trails. 

Look soon for a map of participating neighborhoods and tour routes to take in light displays – a little reminiscent of the Dogwood Arts springtime driving tours of gardens.

The City's Christmas tree will be lit the week of Thanksgiving.

Of course, beginning Monday, Nov. 23, downtown Knoxville will be decked out with an estimated 200,000 lights, including a 42-foot Christmas tree in the Krutch Park Extension on Gay Street.

Wait a minute – 200,000 lights?

“That’s a lot of pop, and the display grows each year,” says Chad Weth, Public Service Director. “We start unraveling and untangling the lights in September. To be ready by late November, our crews begin hanging them and wrapping them on Oct. 1.

“It takes 12 City employees the better part of eight weeks to decorate downtown. But if you ask them, or visitors to downtown, or families that enjoy it year after year, they’ll all tell you – it’s worth the time and attention to detail.”

For more details about Christmas in the City, visit www.knoxvilletn.gov/christmas.
Posted by evreeland On 19 November, 2020 at 10:48 PM