The inaugural Nashville Hometown Christmas and Tree Lighting is planned for Friday, November 30, starting at 6 p.m. with the tree lighting at 7 p.m. This is the first time the town has gathered for such an event and it seems the community is more than ready.
“It was just a crazy spark of an idea, and now it seems to have become a town movement,” said Courtney Gladson, who first pitched the idea to a couple friends and the mayor just two short weeks ago. A movement indeed, as the group now has a 13-foot tree erected in front of City Hall, the involvement of various businesses, schools and organizations, numerous crafts planned for children, local musicians to play, a storybook reading, cookies, hot cocoa served by local heroes, and a very special guest (in a red suit) arriving in style. And the entire event will be free.
Gladson got the idea from a friend who started a similar tradition in Murphysboro last year, so she contacted their tree provider and found out it was still possible to get one. Initially she was still concerned it was too late in the season to pull it off, but once she tapped her friends Karen Kirchner and Jennifer Stamps, it started to become clear that it could work.
“We live in a digital world, so I knew with even a couple week’s time, we could get the word out,” said Stamps. They soon started making calls around town to see who else might want to be involved.
Mayor Erik Rolf then went to the City Council. “I was more than happy to take something like this to the Council,” he said. “Anything that brings our community together is worth taking a look at, and Courtney, Karen and Jen already seemed to have their ducks in a row, so I was all for it.”
The City Council approved the event hands down and the three set off making final preparations with the street, fire, and police departments for a street closure in front of City Hall. The response to their Facebook event grew to over 600 interested; initially the trio had hoped for maybe 200. “After the Council approved it and we made it public, the whole thing kinda took on a life of its own,” said Kirchner. “We were just overwhelmed by the amount of positive response we got from the entire community.”
Initially the group thought a simple tree lighting and hot cocoa would be nice, but the huge response has since created quite the kick off event. “My dad would say this is a Hallmark ending,” says Gladson laughing, “we certainly didn’t think it would be this big year one.”
The hope is that this tradition continues for many years to come and grows into something much bigger. “We have a vision of what this can be. So yeah, we already have plans for next year,” said Gladson with a huge smile, “much, much bigger plans. And we cannot wait to see how this year goes and just what the future holds for our Hometown Christmas. ”