published Monday, November 21st, 2011

Off the Couch: Don't vegetate on Thanksgiving

LISA DENTON: Barry, I don't know about you, but this is the week I put on my big-girl pants and hope the elastic holds up. Thanksgiving seems like the last day of rest and relaxation before the hustle and bustle of the holidays goes into overdrive.

I know Black Friday shopping is a tradition for a lot of people, but it's also customary for area residents to gather at the river that night. In years past, the celebration included the Grand Illumination of downtown buildings by a fireball-throwing, singing Santa. This year, that part of the party has been scaled back, and the Lighted Boat Parade will be front and center.

BARRY COURTER: I'll have to try the big-girl pants idea. Sweatpants are comfortable but hard to match with a holiday sweater and dress shoes. Speaking of being comfortable, I'm already feeling sore from the Thursday morning football game our bunch will play. Experience tells me Saturday will be spent in pain. It takes longer for the soreness to travel, I guess.

For me, the Lighted Boat Parade is a very cool thing. Years ago, a group of us would have dinner on the Southern Belle and then go up on deck as the boats circled around us. It was magical.

LISA: Yeah, the cool thing about the boat parade is the extra illumination when the lights on the boats reflect on the water. Even without Fireball Santa, it should be a fun, festive time. And then Breakfast With Santa will be Saturday morning

Another thing I want to get to this season is The Hilltop Christmas out on Highway 58. Did you know you can see actual reindeer there, even three young ones born in July? I'm a sucker for anything remotely Rankin/Bass, so my eyes are wide just thinking about it. These are the same folks who do The Haunted Hilltop. Once Halloween is over, they set to work stringing lights and stocking Santa's Toy Shop.

BARRY: That's an interesting twist -- a haunted Santa sleigh could be a big hit and could stretch their seasons a couple of weeks.

You haven't stopped talking about the baby reindeer since hearing about them, so I know you are excited. The Lighted Boat Parade kicks off the Christmas season for me. It's time to start planning to visit Rock City and Ruby Falls to see the lights and to get ready for all of the other holiday concerts and events planned in the coming weeks.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

about Lisa Denton...

Lisa Denton is deputy features editor and content editor of Current. She previously was a lifestyle, entertainment and region reporter/pod leader for The Chattanooga Times, which she joined in 1983. Lisa is from Sale Creek and holds an associate’s degree in journalism from Chattanooga State Community College. Contact Lisa at 423-757-6281 or

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