MOUNT CARMEL — Anyone who doubts that the Mount Carmel block party is back at full strength obviously didn’t drive through town on Highway 11-W the evening of July 7.
The celebration exceeded expectations by filling the three shuttle access parking lots at BAE Systems, the National Guard Armory and Oak Grove Baptist Church.
Then there were cars parked along 11-W almost to the Independence Avenue intersection to the east and past the railroad underpass to the west.
On Thursday, Mayor Chris Jones presented certificates of appreciation to the block party’s main sponsor, Horizon Credit Union, as well as three local volunteers.
HCU was instrumental in bringing the event back in 2017 after it had been discontinued for two years due to a lack of sponsorship and volunteers.
“Horizon Credit Union has come into this community, and they have essentially brought back something that meant more to this community than a lot of things to this community,” Jones said. “... Your community spirit and interest have helped make our town a better place in which to live.”
Jones also presented certificates of appreciation to Park Board members Sherry Mitchell, Darby Patrick and Alan Cloyd, who worked with HCU in planning and organizing the celebration.
HCU CEO Beverly Boling, chief lending officer Mark Drinnon, I.T. director Jeff Lane and executive assistant Millie Buchanan accepted the certificate at the beginning of Thursday’s BMA meeting.
“It was a community effort, and we couldn’t have done it without some of the fantastic sponsors. They mainly come from Mount Carmel, and I would like to thank them,” Boling said. “The biggest one I would like to thank is Eastman Credit Union, and I know you all are thinking, ‘Well, they’re in competition,’ but we’re also very good friends, and so we have to thank Olan Jones and his staff at ECU. They paid for the fireworks, and that helped tremendously.”
Other sponsors that were recognized included ALSCO, Brock, Builder’s First Source, Cash Express, Church Hill Diner, Dairy Cup, East TN Title & Closing, Don’s Truck Repair, Holtzclaw Guttering, Ken’s Cooling, Kingsport Moose Lodge, Law Offices of May and Coup, McMillan Insurance, Mount Carmel Pet Hospital, Mount Carmel Senior Center, Natural Gas Utility of Hawkins County, R&M Doors, Farm Bureau — Sam Griffith, Silver Lake Garden Center, SkipEZ, Edward Jones — Stacey Roberts, Louis and James Insurance, Volunteer Collision, Williams Construction and Volunteer Ruritan.
Express AV provided the sound stage equipment, and Bays Mountain Golf Club loaned five gas-powered golf carts for the event.
Boling added, “When you think of Mount Carmel, we need to thank these people for stepping up and helping make the Mount Carmel block party such a success.”
HCU raised $13,850 in donations and made up the difference of the the cost of the festival, which was almost $30,000.
HCU is designated as a low-income credit union, but it also a community development credit union.
“That means we go deep into our community,” Boling said. “We’re very community-oriented. We want to be a good neighbor. We want to help people. It’s all about the people who live and work around our branches and just being a good neighbor. ... I hope you can understand that Horizon had a very big interest in making this block party be a success.”
She also thanked BAE Systems, Oak Grove Baptist Church and the Mount Carmel National Guard Armory for providing additional parking for the shuttle service.
This year’s turnout bodes well for the event continuing to grow next year. One major telltale sign of success was when the vendors ran out of food.
“That’s awesome because that makes them already call us back and say, ‘We’re in for next year — make sure and put us down.’ ... We believe in Mount Carmel, and I think the block party shows that the people in Mount Carmel believe in Mount Carmel too.”