Market Square ice rink keeps tradition alive

 Skaters enjoy themselves.

Skaters enjoy the ice rink on market square.
Ryan McGill/ TNJN

Knoxville’s Holiday on Ice, located in the center of Market Square in downtown Knoxville, has been a sign that the winter season has arrived for the past nine years.

The rink opens each year the day after Thanksgiving, staying through to the start of the spring semester. This year had a strong turnout with around 900 skaters on opening day.

A little girl trying to ice skate.
A little girl and family ice skate around the rink.
Ryan McGill/ TNJN


The ice is kept frozen with an industrial chiller and glycol, placed on a large sandpit. “It could be 100 degrees outside and the glycol would still keep it cold,” said Robyn Wilson, manager at the ice rink.

“The major issue is the texture, but it’s still skateable[sic],” she continued.

Although large numbers turn out to skate in the center of the historic city, Seth Gilliland, a resting skater, thought the wait and time it took to get a pair of skates was short and simple.

“I’ve skated at other rinks before, but never here,” Gilliland said. “It’s really cool skating in the middle of Market Square, it’s just a lot smaller.”

The skaters get wristbands that allow them to come and go as they please. “You can get here at 8a.m., leave, go get something to eat, shop and come back to skate,” Wilson said.

For the past four years The Ice Rink has been owned by the City of Knoxville. The city decided to step in and continue the tradition after complications were encountered by the previous owners.

Assistant manager, Patrick Mclemore, enjoys working at the rink and says the city really takes care of their employees.

“The city provides some really good heaters,” Mclemore said. “Really, it’s better if it’s cold because the ice conditions are better for skating.”

A little girl skating in the middle of Market Square.
A little girl skating in the middle of Market Square.
Ryan McGill/ TNJN

Employees go out of their way to keep the rink operational even as the winter season becomes more unforgiving.

“We aren’t going to disappoint not only Market Square but the downtown atmosphere,” Wilson said. “We have three to four groups working overtime.”

“A large percent of the employees here have family working for the city, it’s really connected,” Mclemore said.

That kind of dedication to the city shows through, and the positive change the rink underwent after the city of Knoxville stepped in is evident.

Smiles skate past the on-lookers who have the opportunity to view the ice rink while walking by.

Wilson said, “We kept the rink here for one reason, to keep the city of Knoxville and the people in it happy.”

Edited by Jessica Carr

Dollywood presents Smoky Mountain Christmas

Dollywood chapel adorned with Christmas lights. Courtesy of Dollywood press release
Dollywood chapel adorned with Christmas lights.
Courtesy of Dollywood press release

Lights everywhere, the sound of Christmas music and the smell of kettle corn drifting through the air.

This is what guests at Dollywood theme park experience each day during Smoky Mountain Christmas, presented by Humana from Nov. 9-Jan.4.

Dollywood is known for its fantastic themed festivals. From the Festival of Nations to the National Southern Gospel, guests have the opportunity to celebrate different cultures and seasons throughout the calendar year. Though guests enjoy Dollywood year-round, many will say that Smoky Mountain Christmas, a five-time award winner of America’s Best Christmas Event, is their favorite festival to experience.

“Dollywood’s Christmas festival is a great getaway for any family, said Carrie Wrinn, a Dollywood season pass holder. “The shows, rides, parade and Santa’s Village are all surrounded by rich Smoky Mountain tradition and southern charm. I would go back over and over again.”

During Smoky Mountain Christmas, Dollywood transforms into a Christmas wonderland. The surprising thing is that the Christmas magic is created in roughly a week. This year, Dollywood closed during the first full week of November, after the National Southern Gospel and Harvest Celebration, in order to prepare for Smoky Mountain Christmas. In this short amount of time the Christmas lights were lit, stages were transformed and decorations were put up throughout the park.

With the cold weather looming, inside shows are a favorite Christmastime tradition for Dollywood guests. Dollywood entertains new and old guests alike with traditional favorites, such as Christmas in the Smokies. This musical features a cast of twelve performing Christmas favorites, all to celebrate the joy of the season.

“I’ve been to Dollywood many times during Christmas, said Jason Bodak, a regular Dollywood guest. “And my favorite show continues to be Christmas in the Smokies. It is full of my favorite songs, and it really tells the true meaning of Christmas. The production quality is great, and it has become a Christmas tradition for me.”

 Along with the annual favorites, Dollywood introduces a new show each year.

This year, the special event is an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. Dollywood creates a never-before-seen remake of this beloved classic, which includes a surprise visit from Dolly as the Ghost of Christmas Past. This theatrical experience features seven new songs written by Parton. The talented cast brings the show to life as audience members follow the Christmas transformation of Ebeneezer Scrooge.

Though the shows are a main attraction during Smoky Mountain Christmas, rides are still operating throughout the park.

Smoky Mountain Christmas will continue throughout the Christmas season. For more information, ticket prices, and schedules, click here.

Edited by Jessica Carr


Pat Summitt Plaza unveiled to honor legendary UT coach

The Pat Summitt Plaza was officially dedicated to the former Lady Vols coach. Photo by Nichole Stevens
The Pat Summitt Plaza was officially dedicated to the former Lady Vols coach. Photo by Nichole Stevens

The unveiling of Pat Summitt Plaza took place at 11 a.m. Friday. The plaza includes an approximately nine foot tall statue of the legendary Lady Vols coach along with a sign replicating her signature and her career statistics below.

Director of Athletics Dave Hart gave the opening speech at the dedication ceremony. Although rain may have deterred some people, a crowd packed in for a first look at the new plaza. As the Lady Vols began their walk from Pratt Pavilion, the band started playing from the bridge to initiate the beginning of the dedication.

To the crowd’s surprise, Hart said that Summitt did not think she deserved a statute or a plaza dedicated to her. She told him that she felt she was just a basketball coach.

Pat Summitt exits the plaza after an emotional dedication in her honor. Photo by Nichole Stevens
Pat Summitt exits the plaza after an emotional dedication in her honor. Photo by Nichole Stevens

“To say Pat Summitt is just a basketball coach is like saying Michael Jordan is just a basketball player,” Hart said.

Hart told the crowd that Summitt has won 84 percent of her games, with an impressive 1,098 wins to 208 loses from her time coaching between 1974-2012. Summitt officially retired from coaching the Lady Vols due to early-onset Alzheimer’s.

Tamika Catchings, former Lady Vol and current WNBA player, spoke about learning under Summitt’s tutelage. Catchings graduated from UT in 2001 and won her first Olympic gold medal in 2004 in Athens when she played for the USA’s women’s basketball team.

“Once a Lady Vol, always a Lady Vol and it is so true. I mean, this is a family,” said Catchings about her twitter hashtag #oncealadyvolalwaysaladyvol.

Former Lady Vol Tamika Catchings reflects on the ceremony to local reporters. Photo by Nichole Stevens
Former Lady Vol Tamika Catchings reflects on the ceremony to local reporters. Photo by Nichole Stevens


When Summitt’s son, Tyler Summitt, an assistant coach for Marquette’s women’s basketball, took to the podium, he said that Summitt’s impact on people come from three values: a passion to compete, her character and her love for family.

Multiple speakers acknowledged Summitt’s reputation for demanding excellence on the court and in the classroom. The statue personifies Summitt’s famous stance that signified to her team that they need to do their best.

“The statue is awesome,” Catchings said. “I think this moment in itself: the statue, the wall, the purple, the way everything is kind of standing out. I’m just so happy to be here.”

“She really has the right idea. She believes in the student athletes. She believes they’re students first and athletes second. And she believes in the University of Tennessee,” Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said.

Cheek complimented Summitt as being an excellent mentor to young women and men, as Tyler Summitt pointed out in his speech.

Despite her influence and fame, her friends and colleagues seemed to all agree that her integrity outweighs itself. Her colleagues reaffirmed that, for Summitt, the wins were never about her. They were always about the student athletes and the university.

“I just want everyone to know, it’s not about me, it’s about everyone out there who loves the University of Tennessee,” said Pat Summitt during her speech.

Edited by Zach Dennis



Geography awareness week opens geographical world to UTK students

Dr. Sally Horn, geography professor, teaches students about tree rings at the Geography Awareness Week booth on Pedestrian Walkway
Dr. Sally Horn, geography professor, teaches students about tree rings at the Geography Awareness Week booth on Pedestrian Walkway

This week University of Tennessee’s Geography Department is participating in the nation-wide celebration of Geography Awareness Week. With on-campus activities and learning opportunities, the events are in conjunction with National Geographic Society’s 125th birthday week and give students an opportunity to enter into the geographic world

Sally Horn is a professor in the Geography Department and spent much of her time on Tuesday morning at the booth on Pedestrian Walkway with other geography students.

“Geography departments around the nation, especially geography departments such as ours, that work with middle schoolers and high schoolers generally do something special during this week,” says Horn.

Horn was quick to brag on her department, singing praises of her students and administrators alike. Geography students receive many prestigious internships and awards in the field of geography according to Horn.

Today, Jamie Winders, professor at Syracuse University will be a guest speaker for students to come and see as part of Geography Awareness Week. She will be speaking about immigration in the South, specifically in Nashville, and how it is changing aspects of the geography in the Southeast. This will be at MINKAO 404 between 3:40 and 5:00 p.m.

Helping in the booth were undergraduate and graduate students in geology, including the Vice President of Club Geography, Michael Schilling. Visit their facebook page here:

Vice President of Club Geography, Michael Schilling, works the booth with Dr. Sally Horn on Tuesday.
Vice President of Club Geography, Michael Schilling, works the booth with Dr. Sally Horn on Tuesday.

Graduate student Ruth Boling talks about some other events in the Geography Department’s future.

“The graduate students are hosting a symposium in February and there will be an opportunity for an undergraduate poster competition,” Boling said.

Edited by Zach Dennis

Possible dining change tabled by UTK

The proposal by UT to require all undergraduates to purchase $300 worth of dining dollars each semester has been tabled.

The UT Student Government Association’s Dining Services Committee met with UT administrators and Aramark officials to discuss the potential dining change. SGA brought research and student reactions to the proposal while SGA President Jake Baker detailed the proposal and what the SGA hoped to do with it moving forward.

SGA executives created a survey to send to the student body, looking for opinions concerning the potential policy change. SGA first sent the survey to members of the Chancellor’s Cabinet for suggestions. Before the survey was finalized and sent to students, the Chancellor’s Cabinet decided that, based on recent student response, the policy would be tabled indefinitely.

The SGA and school administrators decided to table the talks due to the student response through the surveys.


UTK honors veterans at National Remembrance Day Roll Call

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Volunteers read off the names of soldiers killed in combat since September 11, 2001.

Veterans Day is a day to remember, thank and honor those who have served and are serving in the Armed Forces. Several University of Tennessee students and faculty congregated to honor those veterans at the National Day of Remembrance and Roll Call sponsored by the Task Force in Support of Student Veterans,  the Student Veteran Advisory Group, Office of Veterans Affairs, the Center for the Study of War and Society, CAPS Veteran Pre-College Program, and UT libraries.

This was the third annual Day of Remembrance and Roll Call held at UT. It was one of 85 schools in the U.S. that participated in this event which was started by Eastern Kentucky University in 2011.

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New to the Role Call this year, the flag garden gave students and faculty the opportunity to place a flag in honor of a veteran they knew.

According to Laura Bryant, assistant director for UT’s Safety, Environment, and  Education (SEE) Center, the main goal of this event was to give students and  faculty a place to celebrate Veterans Day in any way they needed to.

“I hope that students will have a space to come on Veterans Day to be able to  recognize and acknowledge soldiers who have fallen and soldiers who are serving  and to be able to take that time,” Bryant said. “However they need to take it either it’s by sitting  and listening to the reading or participating as a reader, placing a flag in the  garden, but that it will be something that they need as a way to celebrate the day.”

The names of 6,769 soldiers who have died since Sept. 11, 2001 were read aloud from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on this day.  There was a flag garden where people could place an American flag symbolizing a veteran they knew on the south lawn of Ayers Hall.  Ashley Blamey, the chair for the Task Force in Support of Student Veterans, and Ingrid Ruffin, another member of this group, led the Star Spangled Banner with many spectators joining in. At 2 p.m., a moment of silence was observed as the chimes from Ayers Hall played “Taps.”

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Several students and faculty gather to sing the National Anthem in honor of Veterans Day.

Ron Tredway, UT’s director of employee and organizational development, was one of many readers who took time out their day to read the names of fallen soldiers. Tredway explained that his motivation stemmed from his and his family’s service in the Armed Forces.

“I’m a military veteran. I was in the Navy seven and a half years, and it’s something that I think we often forget about the veterans who have served,” Tredway said. “My dad served for 20 years in the Army. I served seven and a half years in the Navy. I have a son that’s currently serving in the National Guard, so it’s something near and dear to my heart. I think anytime your remembering those who’ve given the ultimate sacrifice is an important and appropriate event.”

Several UT students made their way to observe the Roll Call. One in particular, Allyson Mason, a senior in Kinesiology, came to remember a friend she had lost in the Armed Forces.

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At 2 p.m., a moment of silence was observed in honor of veterans while the Ayres Hall chimes played “Taps.”

“My best friend was actually killed in action in 2011, late 2011, and up until that point, I made sure to observe Veteran’s day cause my grandfather was a World War II vet and everything,” Mason said. “Once my friend got killed, it was just completely different. I took more time on days like today and Memorial Day and the 4th of July and things like that. My whole perspective of Veterans Day changed.”

Although Veterans Day only comes once a year, Tredway added that it gives a reminder to be thankful for things that are present everyday.

“It’s a reminder of the blessings we have, the sacrifices that have been made, and the things we so often take for granted. I know I take them for granted sometimes, and it’s just a good reminder,” Tredway said. “It kind of brings me back to the reality of how blessed we are and how many things we take for granted especially our freedom.”

Edited by Zach Dennis