Memories From The Past
Downtown Kingsport, at one time, could have been considered one of the best parade cities in the nation. Though only four blocks long, the main downtown business section just spoke “Parade”.
The original landscaped media down the center of Broad Street had been removed, giving two broad lanes for traffic and angle parking on each side of the street.
In the late 1940’s through the 1950’s, it was a majestic site
to see a parade start at the Church Circle, under the canopy of mature elm
trees or come from the depot, across Main Street and up Broad Street.
There were parades before football games by the local high school
bands. Parades for the Fourth
of July, special promotional parades sponsored by various interest,
parades by fraternal clubs and probably our most famous parade, The Santa
Clause Parade, ushered in by the arrival of the Santa Clause Train.
Whether it was Dobyns-Bennett, Lynn View, Sullivan, Douglas or Ketron High School marching before a home football game, everyone downtown would line the street, watching the drum major or drum majorette lead their pride and joy. The majorettes would strut and twirl batons to the delight of eager onlookers.
The band musicians would follow, maintaining time and precision. Breaking into rousing fight songs and school songs, preparing everyone for the ensuing football game later in the evening.
No high school parade was complete with out their cheerleaders.
Young ladies smiling proudly, decked out in their school colors,
waving to the crowd. Exhorting
support for their team in the ensuing battle.
A tradition gone by, was the Dobyns-Bennett High School Senior Class March, just prior to graduation. The photo below is the 1941 Senior Class marching from the train station to Church Circle.
One of the most eagerly anticipatated parades in Kingsport is the Santa Clause Parade. Traditionally held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the 2008 parade will mark 66 years of eager children waiting for the chance to get an early gift and scramble for candy. In an early Santa Clause parade, before the train, Santa flew into Kingsport in a special airplane for a night parade.
When Santa began arriving by CC&O train, the
parade was held during the day, Broad Street being filled with waiting
families hoping to get a glimpse of the start of the parade.
Here comes Santa, lead by a local high school band, riding on a
fire truck, Santa’s helper tossing candy and toys into the crowd.
Although Santa no longer parades down Broad Street, he has found a new route through Kingsport to give children an early preview of things to come.
There were Fourth of July Parades with high school bands, The
American Legion, Shriners and floats from the various industries.
There were parades by civic clubs, as seen by the march of the march of The Knights of The Templar in 1950.
Military parades, as the Tennessee National Guard in
Parades of contest winners. The Kingsport Times-News newsboy/girl contest winners in 1951 riding their newly won bicycles.
Occasionally we would have a parade on another route in Kingsport
as shown by the 1949 Riverview Elks march on East Sullivan Street.
Photographs courtesy City of Kingsport Archives.
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