Chattanooga area holiday ornaments celebrate local icons, raise funds

Photo courtesy of Meagan Jolley / Rock City has ornaments resembling its iconic See Rock City birdhouses available in the gift shop and online.
photo Photo courtesy of Meagan Jolley / Rock City has ornaments resembling its iconic See Rock City birdhouses available in the gift shop and online.

Holiday decorations, especially Christmas tree ornaments, can take on special meaning for a variety of reasons. A gift from a loved one, a family heirloom or a particular favorite from your childhood can trigger warm memories and special feelings around the holidays.

They can also provide a source of income for community-based organizations.

A quick online search for Chattanooga holiday ornaments turns up examples from Rock City, the Tennessee Aquarium, the Chattanooga Choo Choo and the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum.

Those groups have been selling ornaments for several years.

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"See Rock City birdhouse ornaments [we have several varieties] are certainly an iconic takeaway with visitors from across the globe [much like the original red and black birdhouses]," Rock City public relations manager Meagan Jolley said in an email. "We also have a pink version sold during this time of year that benefits CHI Memorial Foundation."

Last year, the Tivoli Foundation sold hand-blown ornaments featuring the "Tivoli blade," the part of the marquee featuring the venue's name, as a way to bring in some income during the pandemic.

photo Photo courtesy Tivoli Foundation / The Tivoli Foundation began selling handblown glass ornaments replicating the Tivoli blade last year during the pandemic.

And, this year, the Songbirds Museum Guitar & Pop Culture Museum has created the "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" charitable campaign. For $100, participants can purchase a small guitar-shaped wooden ornament and sign it, with proceeds going to the Guitars for Kids program.

Each ornament will be displayed throughout this and future holiday seasons on a tree in the museum's lobby, and the $100 will go toward a guitar and 10 lessons for a child hoping to learn to play the guitar. In 2021, more than 55 schools, 18 partner programs and 3,500 students took part in the program, with more than 800 guitars being distributed across the state.

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"Our Guitars for Kids program is the backbone of everything we do," Executive Director Reed Caldwell said. "And we are excited to announce that all future profits from the Songbirds Museum – whether it's generated from concerts, event rentals, or museum admissions – [will benefit] this amazing program. Because of the pandemic, getting people back into Songbirds has been a bit of a challenge. That's why this year, your donations are more important than ever."

photo Photo courtesy of John Dooley / Supporters of the Songbirds Foundation's Guitars for Kids program can purchase and sign guitar-shaped holiday tree ornaments for $100. Proceeds will go to provide a guitar and 10 lessons for a school-aged student hoping to learn to play guitar. The ornaments will be displayed on a tree in the museum's lobby each year going forward.

Guitars for Kids participants from across the state learn guitar fundamentals through a diverse range of playing styles and techniques. They are also able to work with certified music therapists in a group setting, creating friendships and establishing musical bonds with other players.

This program is inclusive of children of all backgrounds and can be especially beneficial to kids who struggle with social interaction, disabilities, neurodivergence or other special needs. The experience extends outside of the classroom, where students attend free shows and perform, collaborate and record with national artists.

(READ MORE: Songbirds Foundation teaches kids across Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama with plans to grow)

The ornaments can be purchased online or at the museum at 35 Station St., upstairs inside the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo.

Tivoli Foundation Executive Director Nick Wilkinson said selling ornaments helped bring some needed funds into the organization, but that his staff was also impressed with just how nice the ornaments actually are. They are handmade by Joy To The World Collectibles out of Knoxville and can be purchased for $49.99 through the foundation's online gift shop at

"They really are beautiful."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.

photo Photo courtesy of Steve Freer / The Tennessee Valley Railroad has a variety of ornaments.