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Area residents welcome annual holiday park event

Knox County Parks and Recreation kicked the holiday season off with its annual “Holiday Festival of Lights” Friday, Dec. 19, at The Cove at Concord Park.

Friday and Saturday night featured horse-drawn carriage rides sponsored by Pimentos and Lenoir City Utilities Board.

The walk-through began Sunday, Dec. 21, and continued through Dec. 28, excluding Christmas evening.

Parks and Recreation staff erected light displays along the walking trail throughout the park. Animated displays and a giant live tree with 22,000 lights were highlights of the event.

“Our parks staff works really hard to put this all together. They spend many hours making sure all the lights are working and setting up the displays,” Doug Bataille, Parks and Recreation director, said.

Jay Sprenz attended the event for the first time Sunday, Dec. 21, with this girlfriend, Amanda Novello, who has been attending regularly “for the last few years.”

Sprenz was pleasantly surprised by the spectacle.

“[Novello] said she wanted to come out and roast marshmallows and see the lights, but it is a lot better than I expected. I don’t think I expected all of this, like with all of the animals and everything,” he said.

“I think it is just amazing how all the lights are grouped together,” Novello added.

Although the lights did not disappoint Novello, she did not get to roast marshmallows.

The vendors who were supposed to be selling marshmallows to roast over the bonfire did not show up for Sunday night’s event.

Parks and Recreation staff members Troy Wilson and Richard Sulfridge said they do not know why they were not there.

“I wish they were here, all the kids have been asking for marshmallows,” Wilson added.

The event drew Steve Markiewicz and his daughters, Megan, 6, and Emma, 4, out into the cold for the first time as well.

The family recently evacuated their home in Galveston, Texas, due to damage from Hurricane Ike, and are staying with Steve’s parents in Farragut until it is safe to return home.

“This is beautiful,” Steve said.

“Every time we come to visit we always come to this park. This is a beautiful park along the water and this is just really nice.”

“It’s really pretty,” Emma added.

Some residents decided the event would be a good way to get in their daily exercise.

Linda Mitchell, who came with her friend Maggie Cook and Cook’s daughter, Delight Jobe, said, “We wanted to see the lights and Maggie just got over a broken pelvis and needed some exercise.”

“So this is what Linda decided was her exercise for tonight,” Delight said. “Only we didn’t know it was going to be this cold and windy.”

“But we are having fun. We have laughed all the way around this circle,” Linda added.

Judy Hobbs, owner of The Adorable Child in Farragut, and her husband, Brad Hobbs, in keeping with family tradition brought out their own adorable children, Victoria and Caroline Hobbs and Angelique Diedrich, who brought along the newest addition to the family, her own daughter, Aubrie Diedrich.

“We try to come out every year. It is a tradition,” Judy said. “We love it.”

“And it is really great that they offer this for free,” Angelique added.

For more information on “Holiday Festival of Lights,” call 865-215-6600.


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