Holiday Festival of Lights opens at The Cove

Mike DonilaOur Town Outdoors

We had a successful kick-off at the 23rd annual Holiday Festival of Lights at The Cove Wednesday evening with hundreds of people attending and enjoying the lights along the greenway and in the park.

The family-friendly event runs from 6-9 p.m. through Sunday, Jan. 2, excluding Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. It is free and open to the public though visitors are encouraged to bring non-perishable food items to donate to the Love Kitchen, which provides meals, clothing and emergency food packages for the homebound, homeless and unemployed. There is also a cash donation box and QR codes that accept Venmo payments.

Santa Claus will visit on Fridays and Saturdays and drop in as available other nights throughout the week. River Sports Outfitters has hot drinks available for purchase most nights. The Cove, which is part of the Concord Park system, has several fire pits available for guests to warm up or roast s’mores. Pets on leashes are welcome. The event is sponsored by B97.5.

Last year’s festival set a record for non-perishable food items donated – enough to fill 16 barrels. A total of $7,428.49 also was donated. The prior year set the record in cash donations with $7,677 and 12 barrels of food. We hope to set new records this year!

Oh, and speaking of The Cove, our construction crews were able to complete the parking lot in time for Wednesday’s kick-off. They repaved and reconfigured the entire area during the past couple of months and were able to add about 25 new parking spaces.

In other Parks and Recreation news, we had crews clean and repair the kayak launch at Roy Arthur Stormwater Park off Harrell Road; our carpenters built new signs and installed new door handles throughout the parks system; crews cleared overgrowth from around soccer fields, and repaired leaks on vehicles; and other team members oversaw the usual weeding, mowing and blowing leaves.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our one-man machine, Frank Christian.

“I helped with the holiday lights and some signs – nothing big or fancy but we’ve been busy,” Frank told me. “We did put up a new security light at Beverly Park, and, of course, there’s a lot of legwork – a lot of running around and picking up stuff. Also, we’ve been putting the new decals on our trucks. In fact, we’re the first department to do it. We’ve done over 20 trucks and probably have 20 more to do.”

Well, there you have it!

Enjoy these photos from The Cove and work around the parks:

Mike Donila is communications director for Knox County government.

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