Our community has always celebrated Christmas in various and unique ways and this year is no exception. One of my favorite events is the annual downtown Christmas tree lighting on Broad Street in front of the Courthouse Annex. There is a real sense of “community” as families gather on Broad Street, share Christmas greetings and await the arrival of the jolly old elf … Saint Nick himself. This year, the tree lighting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday, followed by Carols in the City. The First Baptist Church Sanctuary Choir will kick off the evening of music with a performance on the Annex steps.
Following the ceremony at the Courthouse Annex, the Carols in the City festivities will move through historic downtown Cleveland. Audience members are invited to walk together to enjoy Christmas Carols from the various downtown church choirs and return to the Courthouse Plaza with a finale by the Bradley Central High School Choir. Santa and Mrs. Claus will sit in the bandstand on the Courthouse Plaza to greet children and pose for photos. Free carriage rides will also be available in the downtown area until 8 p.m. It is always a truly magical evening and one you and your family should not miss.
Christmas festivities will continue the next day with the annual Christmas parade scheduled for 6 p.m. on Saturday. The parade has been a part of our annual Christmas celebration for more than 50 years. Thanks to the efforts of MainStreet Cleveland, it has become one of the largest Christmas parades in Tennessee with more than 200 entries expected this year.
Rounding out the Christmas kickoff weekend is the Classic Christmas Concert at Lee University’s Conn Center on Sunday. This ticketed event is scheduled for 3 p.m. and is guaranteed to usher in the Christmas spirit.
The coming weekend is shaping up to be a busy and exciting time so make plans now to involve your family in as many of these activities as possible. For those especially interested in the Christmas parade, a little planning will help you stake out a good spot on the parade route. It will leave from Bradley Central High School and travel north on Highway 11. It will turn east on 3rd Street, north on Ocoee Street, make a U-turn around the monument and head back south on Broad Street. It will then turn west on Inman Street, south on Highway 11 and return to the high school.
Organizations with entries in the parade should be aware of the mandatory meeting schedule. If you could not make the first meeting on Monday at noon, there is one more meeting scheduled for today at 6 p.m. It will be held at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce at the Village Green on Keith Street. You will receive your gate pass at the meeting. Any group not represented at the meeting will not be allowed to participate in the parade.
This is one of the busiest seasons in Bradley County. There is shopping to do, baking, addressing Christmas cards, church activities, parties and much more. Please remember that in the midst of the hustle and bustle, the real reason we celebrate is summed up in the opening line of a favorite Christmas carol, “Joy to the world, the Lord has come!”
On behalf of Bradley County government, I wish every citizen a safe, healthy and happy Christmas. It is an honor to serve Bradley County and I am again thankful this Christmas for the trust you place in me. From my family to you and your family, Merry Christmas!