By Keeli Parkey
The Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce will be ringing in this holiday season with a full lineup of special events.
Erwin Christmas Parade on Saturday, Nov. 26
The first holiday event on the Chamber’s calendar is the annual Erwin Christmas Parade on Saturday, Nov. 26, at 10:30 a.m.
This year’s parade, which is themed “A Magical Christmas,” will feature floats and exhibits that will help participants and attendees get into the holiday spirit. The parade will begin at the Erwin Village Shopping Center, travel down Main Avenue into downtown and end at Erwin Utilities on Love Street.
“The holiday season is a special time for making memories and celebrating traditions,” Chamber Executive Director Amanda Delp said. “The Chamber takes pride in coordinating an event that allows the community to come together in celebration of the holidays. The parade is one of our favorite events each year.”
Cline Floats will be supplying professionally designed floats again this year for local businesses to sponsor, according to Delp. These floats will travel the parade route along with various other floats, the Unicoi County High School Band, the UCHS Junior Air Force ROTC, vehicles of all sorts and the special finale, Santa and Mrs. Claus. Churches, civic organizations and individuals are encouraged to enter homemade floats in the parade.
Groups wishing to participate in the 2016 Erwin Christmas Parade should call the Chamber at 743-3000 to receive an application.
All participants must complete an application form in order to participate in the parade, Delp said. Applications must be received by the Chamber office by Monday, Nov. 21.
There is no entry fee for the parade. All participants operating motorized vehicles in the parade must provide a valid driver’s license and proof of insurance at the time of registration.
Annual Dinner on Thursday, Dec. 1
The 12th Annual Chamber Dinner will be held on Thursday, Dec. 1, at the Erwin National Guard Armory. Delp said this event is being sponsored by Nuclear Fuel Services and is themed “Magic Is in the Air.”
The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will include a formal dinner program and entertainment by Azure Aerial Arts.
“The evening promises to light the beginning of your holiday season with a showcase of great entertainment and food,” Delp said. This event is open to the entire community, so join us for a fabulous dinner guaranteed to satisfy your holiday appetite and a wonderful program including a magical performance by Azure.”
Delp said the event will also include a look ahead to 2017 from the Chamber, the presentation of the President’s Award and a presentation by NFS.
“We invite you to enjoy all that is truly bright and wonderful about Unicoi County,” Delp added.
A silent auction will once again be part of the evening. Guests are invited to arrive early to browse the auction items, which will include tickets for regional attractions and events, specialty baskets, business-benefit packages and much more. Doors will open at 5:45 p.m. for the silent auction.
Tickets for the event may be purchased at the Chamber office for $25 each, or you may reserve a table of 10 for $225. Reservations must be made by Monday, Nov. 28. Call the Chamber office for more information.
Erwin Tree-Lighting Ceremony on Friday, Dec. 2
Next up is the 13th Annual Erwin Tree-Lighting Ceremony on Friday, Dec. 2, at Erwin Town Hall.
“With the holiday season just around the corner, we know there is no better way to ignite the holiday spirit than to join friends and neighbors for an evening of community festivities in downtown Erwin,” said Delp.
The tree-lighting ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. with remarks by Chamber and Town of Erwin officials. Attendees will be invited to join with the community choir in singing popular Christmas carols as the tree is being lit.
Activities will then move inside Erwin Town Hall for the reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Santa will then make his appearance. Again this year, The Erwin Record will be on hand to take individual photos of children visiting with Santa.
“We are happy to capture a special memory of the holiday season for local families,” Publisher Keith Whitson said.
The first 100 children will also receive a special gift from Santa and hot chocolate will be served during the ceremony, according to Delp.
Gingerbread House Contest Entry Deadline on Monday, Dec. 5
The Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau Insurance have teamed up for the 3rd Annual Gingerbread House Contest during the holiday season.
There is no fee to enter the contest. All entries must be dropped off at the Chamber of Commerce office by 5 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 5. Winners will be announced on Saturday, Dec. 10. The entries will be taken to Farm Bureau following the judging on Dec. 10 and will remain on display there until Jan. 2, Delp said.
This year’s theme is “A Magical Christmas” and all materials used in building the gingerbread house, including decorative items, must be edible (except for the base).
“Elaborate or simple, big or small, nothing gets you in the holiday spirit like building and designing your very own gingerbread house,” Delp said. “This is the perfect opportunity to start a new tradition and it’s never too early to begin working on this awesome event. Also remember that your holiday masterpiece doesn’t have to be a house; it can be a barn, church, school or other structure. Let your creative imagination take hold.”
Three divisions will be featured this year: group entry, adult and youth (ages 12 and under). There will be $100 in prize money awarded in each of the three divisions.
“Farm Bureau Insurance was eager to jump on board with sponsoring this community event when the idea was discussed a couple of years ago,” said Mark Peterson, agency manager with Farm Bureau. “We have been pleased with the participation and believe this can be an event that continues to grow each year. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit and have some fun being creative.”
Delp said the Chamber is “excited” to partner with Farm Bureau for the contest.
“As a devoted longtime community steward, Farm Bureau makes community events like this possible,” she added.
Breakfast With Santa on Saturday, Dec. 10
The Chamber invites children of all ages to a “Breakfast With Santa” on Saturday, Dec. 10, from 9 to 11 a.m. at The Bramble, 206 Gay St., Erwin.
Delp said a pancake breakfast will be served. There will also be dancing with the elves, face painting, music and photos with Santa by The Erwin Record.
Tickets are now on sale at the Chamber office. Children 6 and under are $5; all other tickets are $8.
“Seating is limited, so purchase your ticket today to make sure you enjoy this new holiday tradition,” Delp said. “Tickets must be purchased in advance.”
For more information about these events, call the Chamber at 743-3000.