Photo by Matt Fields-Johnson Nov 26, 2010--The Earnest family, of Rome Ga., watches the parade of boats from Ross's Landing during their first visit to the Grand Illumination Friday night.
Despite a temperature of 38 degrees, thousands gathered at Ross's Landing on Friday to brighten up their holiday season with the Grand Illumination of the city.
Trudy Freeman, of Suck Creek Mountain, came with her two granddaughters to start their holiday season.
"I love that there is a nip in the air," Freeman said. "We came ready for it. We brought blankets to bundle up in."
Freeman was one of the thousands of people to come to downtown Chattanooga on Friday night to see holiday lights turned on and watch fireworks.
Freeman's 9-year-old granddaughter, Layla Mc-Ewen, said, "I love it."
McEwen said she had been to the illumination as long as she can remember.
Freeman said for her the holiday season hasn't begun until the lights come on downtown.
"This is what starts our holiday," Freeman said, "When it's Christmas on the river, the season is here."
Brett King and his wife, Kristen, have came to the illumination for the past four years.
Brett King said he enjoys the singing and fireworks.
On the Grand Illumination, Kristen King said, "It's a good start to the holiday season."
For the Branyon family, not only is the illumination a good start to the season but also a great event to bring the entire family. The Branyons had 18 members of their family with them Friday night at Ross's Landing.
Jonathan Branyon said, "You don't have to spend money and there is something for the whole family to enjoy."
Pam Branyon added, "It's all about family."
Cameron Crabtree, 18, of Whitwell, Tenn., said he enjoys the parade of boats each year. He said for him the Grand Illumination is a time for him to hang out with friends.
Crabtree added the fireworks at the end was pretty cool.
With a smirk on his face he said, "Santa waves his magical wand and lights up the whole city."
Crabtree's friend Ashtyn Farris said the holiday lights around downtown Chattanooga are beautiful.
"Seeing the city light up is cool," Farris said. "It gets everyone in the holiday spirit."
The Grand Illumination drew to a close Friday with fireworks just before 9 p.m.