East Ridge threw its biggest party ever, Saturday at Camp Jordan for its Centennial Celebration. It was 100 years in the making.
“Actually it’s 100 years and five months,” said Co-Chairman of the event, David Tyler. “We were going to have it in April but because of COVID we put it off until September.”
With several thousand people enjoying themselves in the early afternoon, Tyler and his co-chair, Dana Howe, both proclaimed the event a success. That was half a day before the big fireworks finale sponsored by the Red Wolves even lit the first fuse.
“This is a great turnout,” said Howe, whose day job is putting on trade shows for Grass Roots Outdoor Alliance. “I’m very pleased.”
Everyone coming through the gate at a packed Camp Jordan Park seemed to be pleased. While those over 21 took a load off at tables inside a huge beer garden and sipped their favorite ice cold brew, courtesy of a special event beer permit issued by the city, the younger crowd played cornhole, jumped around on inflatable toys, petted the puppies over at the East Ridge Animal Services tent, or sated their appetites at dozens of food vendors.
After a decade of futility in throwing various events and fall festivals at the 275 acre park, the city got this one right. In all of those events beer sales were prohibited and people just simply didn’t show up for bands and fireworks no matter the caliber of the music or the spangle of the fireworks.
The East Ridge City Council enacted an ordinance in December of 2017 allowing beer sales in the park. Offering beer to drink and heavily promoting the event through print, television and electronic media seemed to do the trick.
Mayor Brian Williams passed through the beer garden and talked about the Centennial’s opening ceremony. He said former mayors Mike Steele and Vince Dean joined him on the stage with Tennessee state officials including Speaker of the House Cameron Sexton.
“We were presented with a framed proclamation,” he said. “It’s going into City Hall.”
When asked about the job that Howe, Tyler and dozens of volunteers did to pull off this scale of event, Williams said, “they did an awesome job.”
David Bostain and his son, Davis, milled about glad-handing friends and making new ones
“Did you ever think you’d see something like this in Camp Jordan?” David asked. “This is great.”
John Clinton, who along with his family owns and operates the Olive Branch, said he came down early to avoid an anticipated crush of people. Clinton asked how to go about getting a beer. The Boston native didn’t blink at the seven bucks required to purchase some suds.
“That sounds about right, doesn’t it?” Clinton said. “What’s a beer cost at a Lookouts game these days?”
Kim Adkins with Buddy’s bar-b-q was having a good time. Soaking up the brilliant sunshine and enjoying the sounds of “The Sidways” band, one of six taking the stage at the amphitheater on the day, Adkins said this kind of event was one of the reasons Buddy’s set up shop down the street on Camp Jordan Parkway.
“The turnout from the community has been fantastic,” she said. “We want to be a part of it.”