On November 15, the city of Elizabethton powered up for the Christmas season when they flipped on the holiday lights and held their annual tree lighting downtown. The tree is one mother of a Frazier Fir, reported to be the second biggest of its kind in the country. The City fathers asked the Washington Co. Regiment to be there to provide a little Colonial color and a great big Colonial boom. The distaff side provided a warming table of spiced hot cider. Mary Jane Kennedy, Lisa Bennett, Sherri Hyder, Sarah (the turkey killer) Slagle took turns stirring the kettle. Then there were the “musketeers”. Our fearless leader, Major Bogart looked very commanding (all he needed to do was to slide his hand inside his greatcoat to get the commanding presence of Napoleon – sorry Chad. )Then there were nine of us: Dave Doaks, Mike Mankin, Ronnie, Mike Coon, me, Earl, Adam, Scott, and Worley Bennett. The Chamber guy announced us as The Overmountain Men Musketeers. I had a bevy of pictures , like sugarplums , dancing in my head at that one. Think of this: nine people lined up tallest to shortest in short pants with bright yellow sweatshirts sporting a big M, cocked hat and big mouse’s ears atop, doing a Rockette’s kick from side to side. That beats Dave Shook’s “Santa’s Giant Elf” characterization all to pieces.
Frankly, there is something very freeing about dressing in reverse drag and I like the idea of carrying something that has the potential of blasting someone’s eardrum. It’s pretty much fun wearing breeches and weskit rather than a round gown. This appeals to the tomboy who is still very much alive in me and I fit in pretty well on the midgit end of the line but almost lost it when I heard our new title.
The musketeers stood at the end of Main Street for what seemed like forever. At dark, the Major told the troops to prime and load. A couple of women sang Christmas carols, off key; we stood there at ready. Ms. Gouge (pronounced “Gooch”) led the Elizabethton High School Choir in multi-harmonic song; we stood there at ready.The Chamber guy ran down the lengthy list of all those who made the evening festivities possible; we stood there at ready. Gouge conducted the Girls Choir; we stood there at ready. It started to sprinkle and the musketeers, standing there at ready, stuck their thumbs down their barrels in order to keep their powder dry. Major Bogart is invoking God in at least three tongues, praying that the rain holds off and the Chamber guy gets laryngitis. The Chamber guy re- thanked (is that like re-gift?) all the businesses that made this night possible; we stood there grousing and almost unanimously added another hundred grains of powder to the load in the guns- just because… FINALLY, the Chamber guy flipped on the lights- oh what joy! He kept oozing on about the holiday season, the girls sang another song or two. The women did a reprise of their 2 top hits and then THE NATIONAL ANTHEM! Chad barked ,”To the ready, aim (shoot at the star), Fire”. KABOOM; the crowd lifted as one man about six inches off the ground. Little kids ran away from us as we went to dinner for fear of being shot. Now I tell ya, would a Musketeer ever shoot a kid? That would be like Superman zapping Jimmy Olsen. After one big shot and a rousing Huzzah (all off camera of course) the musketeers wended on their merry ways down the yellow brick road back to the land of the Little People.
Ckeck out the Christmas tree lighting: