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‘City sidewalks, busy sidewalks’

As the chill of winter comes to Nashville, Christmas spirit rises to meet the occasion.

Throughout Nashville, the comforts of Christmas are on display, providing options to channel any holiday cheer that may have been boxed up for the last 11 months.

For those not native to Nashville, the cityscape may be a new experience—or one that is a reminder of cities left behind.

“The view of the city with all the lights looks amazing this time of year; it really makes me feel more at home,” said Jared Oban, a sophomore from Chicago.

Not only are there decorations, but there are also many Christmas activities.

“The Rudolph Run is awesome,” Oban said. “it’s a 5K from LP Field to Bridgestone Arena and back again.  Everyone dresses in Christmas attire on the run and it’s just a real great atmosphere.”

Nashville—Music City USA— always offers entertainment, and the spotlight becomes even brighter as the Christmas day countdown starts. The trademark country music sound of Nashville is tuned down when the decorations come out and the lights go up.  The Grand Ole Opry House will host the highly acclaimed Radio City Rockettes; shows for the Rockettes began in mid-November and will continue until Dec. 24.

For Gaylord Opryland, at this time of year the hotel grounds become one big Christmas extravaganza, and it’s particularly special this year since the hotel was under nine feet of water after the May flood. The hotel and grounds reopened Nov. 19 after a six-month rebuilding project that cost about $270 million.

Corey Kimble, a six-year veteran Opryland employee, said, “It was an unfortunate situation but it’s great that the hotel opens in time for Christmas. That’s their biggest draw of the year.”

Once again, there’s the visual appeal of two million lights that cover the entrance and surrounding landmarks create an aura of warmth under the cold night sky.

The annual “A Country Christmas,” celebrating its 27th year in Nashville, is a major influence on the holiday atmosphere.  Other attractions include ICE!, the larger than life ice sculpture depiction of the holiday classic “Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town.”

Other than spending Christmas at Opryland, Nashville hosts a wide variety of activities that fit right into the typical Nashville scene.  For many, Christmas is a time for special music. This year some of the most recognizable Christmas-time voices in country music share the stage as well as the hearth and home.  Vince Gill and Amy Grant bring their “12 Days of Christmas” performance to the Ryman Auditorium Dec. 21-22.

Back in the downtown area, the streets of Nashville liven up with lights and the traditional green and red.

“Nashville is already such a beautiful and clean city,” said Lauren Garret, a Belmont University alumna as well as frequent visitor to the downtown area. “The Christmas decorations really make it gorgeous here.”

Garret, who works as a bartender on Broadway, notices the difference in tourists and crowd size when the holidays come along.  “Following Halloween weekend, you really notice a drop in the amount of people that come in up until New Year’s Eve,” she said. “Between Thanksgiving and Christmas people generally are either traveling or spending more time with the family this time of the year.”

Smaller crowds downtown leave room for more local sightseers. “Anyone living in Nashville should really come and see your city decorated for the season; come and see the tax dollars at work,” Garret said.

On the more down-home side of the holidays, a “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” honors the family tradition of going to pick out, cut down, and haul back the family Christmas tree.  And if you live in the Nashville area, there are several do-it-yourself Christmas tree farms in the mid-state area.

If the giving mood strikes you hard this year, a selfless, much appreciated set of volunteer opportunities is always ready. Hands on Nashville, a non-profit organization, provides many outreach programs throughout the winter break that will provide to get involved locally.  Hands on Nashville provide programs that help serve and deliver food, help with flood restoration, and help to assemble care packages.

So whether you stay in Nashville for the Christmas season or travel back home, Christmas is celebrated uniquely in any city, Nashville especially.

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