Several communities will kick off the countdown to Christmas on this first weekend in December.
Among the largest celebrations is A Classic Christmas in Cleveland, Tenn. Events stretch over three days, beginning tonight at 6 when Santa Claus lights the community Christmas tree outside the post office on Broad Street.
Once that duty is complete, revelers can take part in reverse caroling. Rather than singers roaming the streets, the singers stay put at downtown churches and other key sites, and the listeners come to them.
Choristers will be at First Baptist, Broad Street United Methodist, St. Luke's Episcopal, First Presbyterian, Shenandoah Baptist, First Cumberland Presbyterian and Tennessee Christian Preparatory School.
Also tonight, from 6:15 to 8, children can visit with Santa Claus in the bandstand in the Bradley County Courthouse Plaza. Parents are encouraged to bring cameras for photo-ops. Free carriage rides will be offered in the historic downtown district until 8 p.m.
On Saturday, MainStreet Cleveland presents its annual Christmas parade. This popular tradition departs from Bradley Central High School and travels north on South Lee Highway to Third Street, north on Ocoee Street around the monuments, south on Broad Street, right on Inman Street, south on Keith Street and back to the school.
The weekend winds up with "A Classic Christmas" concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at Lee University. A story about the concert is on Page 11.
Red Bank: The city's annual Christmas parade and tree lighting takes place tonight at 6. Planners have asked participants to prepare "the most dazzling, high-spirited and well-lit entry you could ever imagine."
Entertainment will take place at both ends of the route. The parade starts at Euclid Avenue and will travel north on Dayton Boulevard to Red Bank City Park, across from Bi-Lo.
The evening also will include a bonfire, vendor booths and the official arrival of Santa and Mrs. Claus.
The city of Red Bank, a co-sponsor along with the Red Bank Council of the Chamber of Commerce, is collecting new, unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots. They may be dropped off at Red Bank City Hall or either of the two Red Bank fire halls.
For more information, call 877-1103.
Signal Mountain: Festivities surrounding the lighting of the community Christmas tree are planned from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Mountain Arts Community Center. Events include music in the auditorium, photos with Santa, cookie decorating, arts and crafts.
Soddy-Daisy: The annual Christmas parade, featuring floats, bands and ball teams, will start at 2 p.m. Sunday. The route goes north from Harrison Lane to Sequoyah Access Road.
Athens: According to the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, the annual Jimmy Liner Memorial Christmas Parade attracts a crowd of 10,000-plus spectators to see a stream of bands, floats, dancers, emergency vehicles and antique cars. This year's parade is scheduled at 7 p.m. Monday at the McMinn County Courthouse square downtown (rain date, Dec. 12). Local entertainers will perform before the parade in the Market Street pavilion, on the courthouse steps and by Tennessee Wesleyan College. For more information, call 423-745-0334 or visit www.athenschamber.org.
Copperhill: The Copperhill Kiwanis Club describes its Christmas celebration as a small-town event with a big heart. Marching bands and floats will be featured in the parade, which starts at 2 p.m. Saturday downtown.
Dayton: The old-fashioned Horse & Carriage Parade, along with a Christmas Critters pageant, is scheduled at 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Downtown merchants will have special sales, and musicians and vendor booths will be set up on the Rhea County Courthouse lawn all day. Candlelight caroling will follow at the courthouse. For more information, call 423-775-9847 or visit www.mainstreetdayton.org.
Englewood: The Community Action Group of Englewood will present the annual Christmas parade at 6:30 p.m. today. Gail Anderson, artistic director of CAGE, said the parade "will make the loop of Englewood," which is just off Highway 411 in McMinn County.
Grand marshals will be Englewood's veterans. The Englewood Textile Museum, a National Register of Historic Places site that details Englewood's history as a mill town, and the adjacent military room, commonly known as "the little white house," will be open for tours, she said.
Jasper: The town's annual Christmas parade begins at 5 p.m. CST Saturday.
Monteagle: The Christmas parade steps off at 4:30 p.m. from the Smoke House Restaurant and follows Main Street to the post office. The seasonal illumination of lights along Main Street will follow at 5 p.m. (times are Central). After the parade, children can have their photo made with Santa and Mrs. Claus in the gazebo at Harton Park. For more information, call Rhonda at 931-924-5353.
South Pittsburg: The city hosts its annual Christmas parade at 10 a.m. CST Saturday. Afterward, children may pose for photos with Santa at the Princess Theatre. Photo hours are 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Call 423-228-3186 for more information.
Calhoun: The New Echota Historic Site will host a Christmas Candlelight Tour 6:30-9:30 p.m. Saturday. The evening will include Christmas carols, hot apple cider, Cherokee stories and handmade decorations typical of the 1820s. Visitors are encouraged to bring flashlights to tour the grounds of the former Cherokee capital. Cost is $4 to $6. For more information, call 706-624-1321 or visit www.georgiastateparks.org/events.
Fort Oglethorpe: Residents will celebrate "A Toyland Christmas" at the annual Christmas parade, scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday. In keeping with the theme, participants are asked to bring an unwrapped toy to be donated to the Catoosa County Stocking Full of Love. For more information, call 706-861-4191 or 861-4059.
LaFayette: "Christmas Past, Present and Future" is the theme for this year's Christmas parade, which begins at 6 p.m. today.
Ringgold: The parade begins at 6 p.m. today. Children can deliver their wish lists to Santa at the Ringgold Depot, 155 Depot St. For more information, call 706-935-3061.