Editorial: Three Cheers

Jun. 21, 2013 @ 11:18 PM

Local ‘Santas’ make day

for young tornado victims

Here is a nice story deserving of a Three Cheers. Four professional Santas from Sevierville who make up the nonprofit organization Tennessee Santa’s Disaster Relief for Children spent seven days helping the children of Moore, Okla., recover from the tornado that hit the city last month, resulted in 24 deaths and widespread damage.

Organization member Bob Lochmiller said that while the Santas had been meeting previously as a loosely organized group, they recently decided to move forward as a full nonprofit organization. Lochmiller, who is from the Oklahoma City area, said the group where to go for its first mission.

With items and money donated, coupled with some toys the men already had, the group was able to distribute some 500 toys to children in Moore. Santas Nick Kuykendall, Bob Gervais and Bob Lochmiller, set up right across the street from Plaza Towers Elementary School, where seven children were killed.

What a great story and a benevolent gesture by these “Santas.” The kids of Oklahoma got to smile and laugh again.

Be part of a classic hike

in Smokies this summer

‘Here is a great idea for a summer outing that combines great exercise with enjoyment of the outdoors. Friends of the Smokies is celebrating 20 years of support for Great Smoky Mountains National Park with a Classic Hike of the Smokies series. Danny Bernstein, hiking enthusiast and author of two regional hiking books, has returned as the guide for the third year of the program.

Friends asks all Classic Hikers to give a donation in support of the Smokies Trails Forever program which funds a third Smokies trail crew to help maintain the over 800 miles of trails in the park. Each Classic Hike honors an achievement or cause that Friends has funded. There are still several more opportunities to join a Classic Hike, including one from Newfound Gap and the Appalachian Trail down to Kephart Prong on July 16.

To register, email to outreach.nc@friendsofthesmokies.org or call 828-452-0720. For complete list of hikes held monthly on the third Tuesday, visit friendsofthesmokies.org. Get off the couch and into the woods for a great outing.

Pigeon Forge shopping

draws earned recognition

There can be no dispute that Pigeon Forge has made great strides to become a commercial as well as tourism attraction for the area. Now its shopping has earned recognition as well. Pigeon Forge has won the gold award for best shopping in Blue Ridge Country’s 2013 Best of the Mountains poll.

Readers also awarded Pigeon Forge gold for best family getaway and best place for a multi-generation vacation. Dollywood won silver for best for the holidays. “Our readers voted in record numbers this year,” said Blue Ridge Country Editor-in-Chief Kurt Rheinheimer. “We conduct Best of the Mountains voting only every five years, and we’re so pleased that our knowledgeable, mountain-loving readership turned up a few real surprises.”

This year the poll features a variety of reader selections, ranging from best waterfall to best southern cooking. Readers submitted their votes online over two months. Ballots produced almost 250 awards for cities, attractions, people and activities in the Blue Ridge Mountain region. Congratulations to Pigeon Forge for its most deserved honors.