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Twice the spirit to dash into Unicoi County

Holiday cheer will double this year with not one, but two, Christmas parades in Unicoi County. Both the town of Erwin and the town of Unicoi will hold parades on Nov. 27.
Making its holiday debut this year is the town of Unicoi, which will hold its first Christmas parade at 2 p.m. on Nov. 27. The parade will feature Santa himself, along with a very special grand marshal — The Mayberry Deputy.
David Browning, an actor who impersonates Don Knotts in his role as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show,” will prompt audience participation while providing an atmosphere of family friendly fun.
“We’re happy to have him there,” said Linda March, events coordinator for the town of Unicoi. “The notion of Barney Fife and Mayberry gives the event a warm, small town feeling. (Browning) mixes with the crowd before the parade. It should be a lot of fun. The whole nature of the parade is a hometown, small town parade.”
The parade will also feature the Unicoi County High School Marching Band, the UCHS Junior Air Force ROTC, the Jericho Temple Shriners, the Rolling Thunder veterans organization, local churches, vintage automobiles, horses and Smokey the Bear.
“We’re very excited because it’s the town of Unicoi’s first-ever Christmas parade,” March said. “It’s a real community event with a lot of local floats both homemade and handmade. We’ll have participation from local churches, day cares, and the Shriners will be there. Our Santa Claus is affiliated with the volunteer fire department. It’s all a local effort.”
While the town of Erwin’s annual parade is on the same day, March said she believes the two events will provide more opportunity for community involvement.
“This is a tradition we want to carry on,” March said of the parade. “I hope everyone will come out. They can go to the Erwin parade in the morning and come to ours in the afternoon. It should be a good day for everybody.”
The parade will begin at the Interstate 26 Exit 32 bridge, continuing down Unicoi Drive and turning off at Massachusetts Avenue. The parade will end near the Unicoi Elementary School field.
Continuing in its decades-long tradition, the Unicoi County Chamber of Commerce will hold its annual Christmas parade in Erwin at 10:30 a.m., also on Nov. 27. The theme for this year’s parade is “Candy Canes and Christmas Carols.”
According to Amanda Delp, executive director of the Chamber, this year’s event could be one of the largest in recent history.
“So far, we have had tremendous turnouts as far as commercial floats go,” she said. “I called the float company we’re using to get additional floats.
“I think it will be one of the biggest years. We’re still accepting registrations and have had numerous calls about it.”
Delp added that she doesn’t anticipate the town of Unicoi’s parade to affect the parade in Erwin.
“The parades are at different times,” she said. “We’ve had our parade for decades, and having another one is an opportunity to have something going on in both towns. I hope it will bring people out for both.”
This year’s parade in the town of Erwin will feature the UCHS band, the Junior Air Force ROTC and of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus.
Commercial floats, supplied by Cline Floats, along with other participants will line up at the Erwin Village Shopping Center. There, the parade will begin and continue down Main Avenue, coming to a stop at Erwin Utilities on Love Street.
However, one change from parades in years past comes with the annual tree-lighting ceremony. Rather than being held the evening of the parade, this year’s 8th annual event has been moved forward to Nov. 20 to coincide with activities planned by the Downtown Merchants Association.
“We attended a Dowtown Merchants meeting,” Delp explained, “and after talking with them, we tried to come up with a day that would best help them with their open house.”
Delp said planning thetree-lighting ceremony in conjunction with the Downtown Merchants’ open house will hopefully draw more of a crowd to both events.
“I think both events, individually, will draw a crowd,” she said, “but I think both events combined will increase attendance.”
The day’s events will begin at 5 p.m. at Erwin Town Hall and will include special performances, music and the reading of “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” along with a special visit from Santa. The event will conclude with the lighting of the town’s Christmas tree.
For more information on the town of Unicoi’s Christmas parade, call March at 743-7162. For more information on the town of Erwin’s Christmas parade and its annual tree-lighting ceremony, call the Chamber at 743-3000.