Sunnyside Christmas lights display/ Photo by Brooke Wanser.
By BROOKE WANSER
With the advent of the holiday season comes a tradition unique to Franklin: the Holly Trolley, which takes visitors around Williamson County to see Christmas light displays.
Three Franklin Transit trolleys are utilized for the express trips, which run the first three weekends of December, twice each night on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
TMA Group Executive Director Debbie Henry said the holiday trolley began running 14 years ago, and has grown in popularity since.
“It always sells out so quickly,” she said. “It’s become part of the fabric of Franklin, as far as holiday events are concerned.”
For those who are unfamiliar, it’s also a way to see Franklin Transit’s hub and ride on one of the buses.
“For a lot of children, it’s their first introduction to transit in Franklin,” Henry said. The cost of the ticket, $16, goes towards the operating costs of the transit system.
The ride begins at 708 Columbia Avenue, Franklin Transit’s headquarters. On Sunday evening at 8 p.m., a yule log burned on a television screen and folks sipped hot chocolate with marshmallows while they waited for the trolley.
Linda Tidwell, who has been driving for Franklin Transit for 11 years, pulled up to the building and welcomed holiday travelers aboard.
Christmas carols played as passengers boarded, before the interior lights turned off and the trolley pulled away from the curb.
The bus circled around to town square stopping by the brightly-lighted tree on town square, before heading back down Columbia Avenue to the Lotz House.
J.T. Thompson, executive director of the Lotz House Museum, welcomed in guests for a brief tour of the house, as well as ginger snaps and his famous apple cider.
After the detour, the trolley continued north, heading up Hillsboro Road through Grassland. Meager light offerings along the route didn’t seem to dampen spirits, nor did the two-plus hour ride, slated to be 75 to 90 minutes. “More, more!” squealed a cherubic toddler, pointing out each light.
The finale, however, did not disappoint. Bill Minneci, who lives on Sunnyside Drive in Brentwood, is renowned for his 35-year-long Christmas lights display, in honor of his son, BJ, who died in 1993. The lights display encompasses Minneci and his neighbor’s houses, and takes him a year to plan, though Minneci said this is his final year.
“This is amazing!” an elderly woman exclaimed as she got off the trolley to look around the light display.
To purchase tickets, go to tmagroup.org.