Johnny Majors headlines Lenoir City parade

Tammy Cheek-News Herald

Lenoir City is using some star power to boost its annual Christmas parade.

Johnny Majors will be grand marshal for the Dec. 1 downtown event. And for the first time in more than 30 years, Lenoir City is hosting its parade at night.

"The Lenoir City Parks and Recreation Department is glad to bring back the nighttime Christmas parade this year," Steve Harrelson, Lenoir City Parks and Recreation director, said. 

"A Christmas parade at night allows us the chance to showcase all of the beautiful floats and entries as they display their illuminations for everyone to see," he said.

Participants will line up at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Yale Commercial Locks parking lot. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m., and the parade route follows Broadway from C Street to Pike Street in the city's downtown district. 

"Any location along Broadway will be a good spot to view the parade," Harrelson said. "We want to encourage people to come early and reserve their spot. We are anticipating approximately 3,500 to 4,000 spectators."

This year's theme is "Christmas on Broadway" and participants are encouraged to light up floats and other entries and compete for first-, second- or third-place prizes.

"We are so excited to have University of Tennessee's own Coach Johnny Majors as our grand marshal," Harrelson said.

As a halfback, Majors was an All-American in 1956, a two-time winner of the Southeastern Conference Most Valuable Player award and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1987. He coached at Iowa State and Pittsburgh during the 1960s and 1970s before joining UT, where he won SEC championships in 1985, 1989 and 1990. After leaving UT, he returned to Pittsburgh and coached until he retired in 1996.

Harrelson said because of other commitments, Majors will not be available after the parade so he encourages people to take pictures of him as he passes through the route.

In another first this year, the parade will feature special performances in front of the reviewing stand, Harrelson said. Performers, consisting of bands, singers, dancers and Santa himself, will periodically stop in front of the stand.

The reviewing stand will be located at A Street and Broadway and will seat city officials as well as serve as host site for the master of ceremonies.

The parade will happen rain or shine, Harrelson said. Participants can still sign up to be in the parade by calling Lenoir City Parks and Recreation at 986-1223.

Businesses in the downtown district are also participating.

"We want to encourage people to come early and view all the storefront displays along the parade route," he said. "Many downtown businesses have joined us in celebrating Christmas by decorating their facades."

Greenback will hold its parade at 11 a.m. Dec. 10 with entries lining up starting at 10 a.m. in the Greenback School parking lot.

Greenback City Recorder Norma Peeler said the city welcomes floats, antique cars, antique tractors, individuals and horses. It does not permit motorcycles.

The route will take the parade from the school to McTeer Street, left onto Tennessee Avenue, left on Highway 95, right on Elm Street and left on Morganton Road. From there, it will progress to the middle of town, where Santa will give out treats to the children.

Peeler said the city does not have a grand marshal. People do not have to sign up to participate; they simply need to show up the day of the event.

Also on Dec. 10, Loudon will have its parade starting at 6 p.m. featuring Bill Russell, a retired judge for Loudon County General Sessions Court and Loudon County Juvenile Court, as its grand marshal.

Sponsored by the Loudon Merchants and Property Owners Association and the City of Loudon, parade participants will line up 5 p.m. at Carter Street next to Loudon High School, then proceed down Mulberry Street and turn right onto Grove Street.

Loudon Parks and Recreation and Loudon Utilities is sponsoring a free Christmas in Olde Loudon event, which will take place after the parade near the Loudon County Chamber of Commerce and Loudon City Hall. The event will feature Santa, the Grinch, a bonfire provided by Loudon Fire Department, wagon rides through downtown Loudon, a petting zoo, pony rides, a nativity area, music, craft/ornament making for children, prize drawings and more.

There will be prizes for the best floats, said Lynda Randolph, executive director with LMPOA. She said people can still enter the parade.