It started several days ago with the mounting of Christmas greeting banners along street corners, but the experience kicks into full gear this weekend with a slew of annual festivities that will put the “Main” in MainStreet Cleveland.
The kickoff is Friday night.
At 6 p.m., Carols in the City and the Community Tree Lighting will take the spotlight on the steps of the Courthouse Annex on Broad Street. Here, Christmas greetings will be offered by a couple of fellows who love the year-ending holiday season and they relish it even more in historic downtown Cleveland.
We refer to Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland and Bradley County Mayor D. Gary Davis who have been trumpeting the song of a downtown Christmas for years. But theirs is only part of the delightful weekend.
The jolly ol’ elf himself, and Mrs. Santa Claus, will assist with the Christmas tree lighting. They will be joined by the First Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir to kick off the evening of music.
Once the giant Christmas tree is lit in front of the Courthouse Annex, the audience — and a large crowd is just about always assured — will enjoy a unique opportunity called “reverse caroling.” Instead of talented carolers taking their festive show on the road, the listeners will do the traveling.
On tap for the evening of audience travels will be stops at Broad Street United Methodist Church, Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church, First Presbyterian Church, Ladies of Lee at the [Lee University] Church Street Annex and First Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Their musical trip will end at the Courthouse Plaza with a finale by the Bradley Central High School Choir.
At this point in the series of sing-alongs, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be relaxing in the bandstand at the Courthouse Plaza to greet children and pose for photographs. And attention parents: Bring those cameras!
The evening also will highlight free carriage rides throughout the historic downtown area until 8 p.m.
Also on hand will be the Tennessee Christian Preparatory School Elementary Chorus whose young voices will entertain during the Santa visits and carriage rides.
The scene shifts Saturday to the annual Christmas parade at 6 p.m. It is one of Cleveland’s longest running and most popular holiday traditions. And, its path will take it through much of the downtown area.
The parade will depart from Bradley Central High School, and travel north on South Lee Highway to 3rd Street, north on Ocoee Street around the monument, south on Broad Street, continues on to Inman Street, and back to South Lee Highway and to the school.
For more information, call the MainStreet office at 479-1000 or visit the website at www.mainstreetcleveland.com.
The weekend doesn’t end with the parade.
On Sunday, at 3 p.m., the Lee University School of Music will present its 24th annual “A Classic Christmas” in Conn Center. Concert admission is free; however, tickets are required due to limited seating. For ticket reservations and information, call the box office at 614-8343.
For as long as we can remember, Christmas has served as a signature reminder that in Bradley County we are blessed.
Larger cities might offer quantity of amenities, but their little brothers like Cleveland offer quality of life.
And while Cleveland is no longer little, we still maintain those small town values that are capturing the hearts and the imagination of outsiders everywhere.
The coming weekend of Christmas celebration will verify our belief.