Christmas decorations have been in stores since before Halloween. Christmas music began playing over satellite radio airwaves Nov. 1.
But for many Chattanoogans, the official start of the holiday season is the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, when Holiday Cheer at the Pier at Ross's Landing kicks off Christmas.
The annual holiday event takes place this year Nov. 29 from 5 to 8:30 p.m. All the traditions families have come to love will be there: a lighted boat parade, Santa, food and fireworks.
Beginning at 5 p.m., food and drink vendors will be on-site with hot chocolate, spiced cider, funnel cakes, cotton candy, corn dogs and more concessions. Hot holiday cocktails and craft brews will be available to ages 21 and older.
Visitors can warm themselves by fire pits, enjoy music from DJ Mike Key, hear read-alouds from the Hamilton County Read 20 Mobile, ride in a trackless train or kick a ball in the inflatable soccer field provided by the Chattanooga Football Club. Face painting, lighted novelties and a balloon artist will add to the atmosphere.
At 6 o'clock, Santa will arrive in a fire truck and visit with kids until 8 p.m.
The popular lighted boat parade will glide past Ross's Landing beginning at 7 p.m., organized by Erwin Marine.
All boaters wishing to participate should meet on the river above Veterans Bridge near Chattanooga Golf and Country Club by 6:15 p.m. Organizers say boaters will line up there, then come down under Veterans, Walnut and Market Street bridges to Ross's Landing. Boaters will continue down the Tennessee River to Cameron Harbor to turn around. Any boater wishing to participate in the parade or dock overnight should contact Erwin Marine at 423-266-1316.
A glittering fireworks finale over the Tennessee River at 8:15 p.m., presented by the Southern Belle, will signal the close of the event. Fireworks will be launched from Renaissance Park.
"Providing the fireworks is our way of saying thank-you to this community, which has given us so much over the years. We're always pleased to be a part of this great event," said John Reinert, owner of the Southern Belle,
Entercom Chattanooga radio stations — US 101, Rock 105, Real 96.1, 103.7 Kiss FM and 98.1 The Lake — are co-sponsoring the holiday event