The iconic Cousin Eddie brings many fashion statements to mind – think bathrobe and trapper-bomber hat with flaps or a blue polyester leisure suit or a black dickie showing through a thin cream sweater. Anyone who can carry off one of those looks or who would like to don an Aunt Bethany hat is invited to show off their style this Thursday as Marion celebrates the 30th anniversary of “Christmas Vacation” as part of its four-day Christmas celebration.

Alex Veatch, Marion Downtown’s director, is expecting several Uncle Eddies to show up for the 7 p.m. Thursday character costume contest that will precede the Lincoln Theatre’s free screening of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." Veatch, however, plans to celebrate the Pledge of Allegiance praying Aunt Bethany.

The winner of the contest will claim a special grand prize -- a giant inflatable Griswold Family Truckster. The about 8-foot long inflatable decoration captures the Griswolds’ station wagon topped with their excessive Christmas tree.

The “Christmas Vacation” fun is just one aspect of Thursday evening’s Merry Main Street, Marion's annual downtown open house event.

McNeil Furniture will host mini, pet-friendly Christmas photo sessions, using one of its holiday window displays as the background. Interested individuals are urged to contact the store to schedule an appointment.

The recently-opened Blue Ridge Outdoors will welcome the Vintage Spur western boutique show trailer with Pink Cactus jewelry to its business. Other businesses will offer extended hours and special sales and some will feature caroling and seasonal refreshments.

Good News

Before the night is over at the Lincoln, two special announcements will be made. The winners of the current Marion Pop-Up Business Challenge will be named, and Marion officials plan to reveal details of a special concert series planned for 2020.

Who Doesn’t Love a Parade?

Friday night, the Marion Rotary Club will host the Kaleidoscope Christmas Parade along Main Street at 7 p.m. with Santa arriving in town for an early visit. He’ll catch a ride on a Marion fire truck.   Teleperformance and Highlands Fellowship Church will give out free hot chocolate to parade watchers at locations along Main Street.

Christmas Market Shopping

This weekend, Marion is hosting more than 60 vendors for its 10th annual Christmas Market, which runs Friday through Sunday, with craft and food vendors from the farmers market through Iron Street Mall to the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts. Friday market hours are 3-8 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday 12-5 p.m. 

Santa will be greeting children at the Henderson on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., giving folks another opportunity for photos with the smiling elf.

Catch a Ride

New this year, the town of Marion will offer free shuttle service around downtown on Saturday and Sunday during Christmas Market hours. The shuttle will run from the farmers market to the Henderson and along Main Street. The shuttle will be adorned with big red bows and is even decorated on the interior.

Christmas Trees

As visitors check out Main Street, the Smyth County Historical and Museum Society will again host its annual Christmas Tree Contest inside the Holston River Heritage Center all weekend.

You Gotta Eat

In addition to the town’s numerous restaurants, folks can support the community’s children by eating breakfast or brunch at First United Methodist Church, where the Marion Kiwanis Club will host a pancake breakfast from 7-11 a.m. The proceeds will benefit the club’s programs for children.

A couple of food trucks will also be on hand. Trucky Cheese specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and Mason Joe Coffee, which operates out of a vintage camper, will serve hot coffee and cold brew and other hot drinks.

Return to the Lincoln for Music

Saturday, the Marion Kiwanis Club will host the annual Christmas Along the Crooked Road concert at the Lincoln at 7 p.m.

General admission to this show, featuring Jimmy Edmonds, Wayne Henderson, Steve Lewis, Jeff Little, Josh Scott, the Church Sisters, Spencer Strickland, and the Junior Appalachian Musicians from the Henderson, will be $15.

Christmas along the Crooked Road features musicians from Southwest Virginia and Northwest North Carolina performing some of their favorite holiday songs, new and old in bluegrass, old-time and mountain style.

Thanking the Hosts

The Marion Christmas Market Weekend is presented by Marion Downtown in partnership with the town of Marion, the Wayne C. Henderson School of Appalachian Arts and the Lincoln Theatre. For a complete listing of events and activities, visit or check out related Facebook pages.

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