Julie Graham, Executive Director for the Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council (branded as 9 Lakes of East Tennessee) presented a check to Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful at a local tourism meeting held at White Pine City Hall on Friday, Feb. 1. The donation comes from the proceeds of the organization’s 1st Annual Polar Plunge, which was held on New Year’s Day at the Cherokee Lake Recreation Area.
Organizing partners for the event included Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council (METTC), Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce (JCCC), Cherokee Lake Realty, and Cherokee Lake Users Association (CLUA).
“This was a fun way for people to get out and enjoy Cherokee Lake at the start of the year while also highlighting the many benefits of the Tennessee River,” said Graham. “We thank all sponsors and event organizers, especially Lauren Hurdle (Tourism Development Coordinator for JCCC).”
More than 200 people attended the event, including six mayors from the region:
Mayor Mark Potts, Jefferson County
Mayor Beau Tucker, City of New Market
Mayor Terry Wolfe, Town of Bean Station
Mayor Glenn Jacobs, Knox County
Mayor Mike Byrd, Grainger County
Mayor Mitch Cain, Jefferson City
“We wanted to highlight and benefit Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful because it’s a great organization that’s tying together all of our local waterway efforts,” said Graham. “The attendance of six mayors is a testament to the river’s reach in East Tennessee.”
The mayors served as the judging panel for the Parade of Penguins, which had some interesting costume entries, including Elvis, men donning tutus, and a group of elves. The winning entry went home with a new kayak provided by Jefferson City Wal-Mart.
“We’re grateful to Julie for her passion for the river, for the efforts of the event organizers, and for this donation that will be used to raise awareness around keeping the Tennessee River healthy and beautiful,” said Kathleen Gibi, Executive Director for Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful. “Six mayors attended this event because they understand the impact our river has on our economy, tourism, and culture.”
Graham currently serves as President of Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful’s Board of Directors, and plans are underway to continue the Polar Plunge next year at Cherokee Lake.
Sponsors included Bush Beans, Tennova, Citizen Tribune, Mossy Creek Foundation, Greenlee Marina, Honda Marine, Smarketing, Jefferson County Post, Standard Banner, Off the Hook, First People’s Bank, Hibbert Sports, Walmart, Bucks and Bass, and TVA Credit Union.
Middle East Tennessee Tourism Council is a 16-county not-for-profit that serves to promote the assets of the region to build local community and economic opportunities through tourism. Branded as the 9 Lakes of East Tennessee, they partner with businesses and tourism agencies to serve 16 counties in the region.
Keep the Tennessee River Beautiful is the first Keep America Beautiful affiliate in the nation to focus solely on a river. The non-profit’s mission is to educate and inspire people to take action to create a clean, healthy, beautiful TN River. They aim to rally communities along the river to preserve, improve and protect the river for generations to come.