This is the first year the ceremony has illuminated King Commons Park — in years past, the tree has towered over the plaza at Buffalo Street. Now, the only thing that overlooks the tree is the Johnson City sign, which lit up for the first time last year.
Hundreds crowded around the park, some clutching cups of hot chocolate, others splashing in puddles from the drizzle of the early evening. Five-year-old Mae Turpin took to the puddles, excited for her first holiday season in Johnson City.
Her family moved a few months ago, and Mae began kindergarten at South Side Elementary School in the fall. Her mother, Julia, is the new director for the Johnson City Public Library.
“This is just our first big Christmas event, so we wanted to do something special,” she said.
This was also the McHones first time attending the tree lighting. While they live in the area, Jason and Mindy said they wanted to create new memories for their two children.
“As a family with young kids, we just wanted to start a new family tradition,” Jason said.
The evening began with performances from the Johnson City Senior Chorale, Science Hill Chamber Ensemble and the Indian Trail Choir. Then, Johnson City commissioners and other city leaders led the crowd in “The 12 Days of Christmas.”
After the tree-lighting, the party continued on Main Street for the remainder of the evening for the Hometown Holiday Street Fest. The fun continues Saturday with the Christmas parade, which begins at 10:30 a.m. at East Tennessee State University, and will travel down West Walnut Street and through downtown Johnson City.
After the parade, be sure to stop by Founders Park for a little slice of Whoville Village from noon-2 p.m.
Email Jessica Fuller at email@example.com. Follow Jessica on Twitter @fullerjf91. Like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/jfullerJCP.