What makes Lookout Mountain home

Summer on Lookout Mountain means picnics at Point Park, baseball at the Commons, and long hikes under canopies of green. Let us know your favorite trail on Facebook or Twitter.

Warm weather also means outdoor fun, like the 60th annual Fairyland Festival last month, or celebrating CF Awareness on the Cafe's porch. Hold onto your flip flops as we kick off the best time to be Living On Lookout!

Exciting Changes Planned for Ruby Falls

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Big changes are coming to Ruby Falls. A six-phase development totaling $20 million will mean new ticketing, retail, restrooms, office space and entrance lobby. But for Lookout Mountain residents, the most exciting change will be updated parking.

Ranked as the nation’s 6th best cave by USA Today, the attraction has seen tremendous growth in the past few years. Unfortunately this has also meant cars precariously parked along Scenic Highway mid-summer, with tourists walking up the busy – and curvy – highway. While details have yet to be released, plans include “additional parking” and “improved pedestrian access to new ticket lobby.”

The Green Globe certified attraction revealed its expansion plans September 14 at a media event downtown, promising the changes will make it the most modern tourist attraction in the area.

Plans are to break ground in January, completing two of the six phases by 2018. Additional development will continue into the 2020s. The attraction’s 100th anniversary comes in 2028, bringing with it a beautiful reimagining of a beloved historical site.

“We are so proud to expand and modernize our attraction and become an exciting destination, not only for our out-of-town visitors, but for our Lookout Mountain residents and Chattanoogans as well,” said Ruby Falls President Hugh Morrow. “Ruby Falls is growing as a world-class facility that will bridge our heritage into its second century. One primary goal of this investment is to provide an efficient and comfortable place where guests can enjoy relaxing and hanging out for longer periods of time.”

One primary goal of this investment is to provide an efficient and comfortable place where guests can enjoy relaxing and hanging out for longer periods of time.

To that end, plans include a new pedestrian mall and enhanced observation of the city. Changes to the entrance lobby are aimed at improving queue lines for the cave tour and overall guest experience. See here for a video rendering.

“Ruby Falls is the perfect example of a thriving destination that’s ready for the next big evolution,” said Mike Konzen, principal and chair of PGAV Destinations. “Lookout Mountain and the Falls are saturated with deep, rich stories from the natural science of the cavern’s growth to the love story of its discoverers, Leo and Ruby Lambert. It’s integral to bring those incredible stories to the forefront of the experience.”

Ruby Falls is the perfect example of a thriving destination that’s ready for the next big evolution.

PGAV Destinations is a global leader in the planning and design of unique destinations. In addition to Ruby Falls, PGAV’s clients include SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, the Biltmore Companies, the Grand Canyon, Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Georgia Aquarium.

Details of Phases 1 and 2:

- New Entrance Lobby and Ticketing Experience

- Dedicated Guest Locker Area

- New Elevator and Staircase for 3rd Level Access

- New Outdoor Observation Platform at 3rd Level

- Expanded Retail and Relocated Photo Retail

- Expanded Cave Tour Batching & Queue

- New Outdoor Plaza Area

- Improved Pedestrian Access to New Ticket Lobby

- Renovated and Expanded Guest Restroom Facilities

- Improved Staff Circulation (back-of-house space)

- Area for Future Staff Offices/Operations

- Additional Parking

Lookout Mountain School Carnival Wrap Up

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It's hard to explain the significance and tradition of the LMS Carnival...but of course we're going to try. This year we asked real estate photographer Benjamin Grizzell to capture the highlights.

One of those highlights included Carnival veteran and Mountain Tracker Gwin Tugman. After 28 years manning one of the most popular booths, the "Children's Corner," she's pretty much seen it all - until this year. While setting up around 2:30 this year, she looked up to see her best friend and former Carnival co-chair, Susan Taylor.

"I looked up and immediately started tearing up," says Gwin.

She had flown in at noon from Charleston, SC and was leaving at 7, coming just to support her long-time Carnival comrade. The visit was even more meaningful since Gwin's husband, John, has been battling health problems in recent months.

Susan and Gwin started running the "Children's Corner" 28 years ago, the same year they chaired the entire event. Someone backed out last minute and they stepped in, running it every following year until Susan moved away in 2008.

For more Carnival moments, visit our new share site where you can view pictures and even order prints.

LMS Carnival Comes This Tuesday

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Tuesday, September 20
3-7 pm
Lookout Mountain Town Common

Next Tuesday, the Town Commons will be transformed into the Lookout Mountain School Carnival. There will be silly string, hay rides, fake casts, bouncy houses and lots of happy children. Some new highlights this year include balloon artist, Grandpa Giggles; laser tag; and a tented cooling station with large fans.

To understand the scope of this community-wide tradition, we sat down with Lauren Caldwell, this year’s co-chair with Beth Wingfield. Here’s a glimpse of Carnival by the numbers.

Total fundraising goal for the event

Number of tickets (tokens) printed

Total sales from Carnival’s Marketplace, which auctions off original class paintings and sells mugs and other keepsakes featuring that artwork

Total sales at Gwin Tugman’s “Children’s Corner” booth, one of the longest standing Carnival traditions. Her top seller – silly string.

Approximate number of attendees

Number of times someone was called to “Jail” last year. Each time a name is called, it signifies $2 toward the school

Number of volunteers required to pull off the event, including parents, teachers, Town employees and community members

Current number of students enrolled at LMS

Number of homemade goodies that parents make to sell at Carnival Kitchen

Number of years Carnival has taken place

Number of event sponsors

Number of booths

Number of teachers and LMS employees who volunteer, including 5th grade teacher Mr. Mann who is recovering from a broken foot. School secretary and bookkeeper Mary Duncan will work this year even though she has a family commitment later that day.

Number of Public Works Town employees who help set up booths, starting about a week before the event

Number of months it takes to plan and execute Carnival

Number of police officers needed for day-of traffic control

Mayor who attends every year, Carol Mutter

New Co-Ed Flag Football League Forms

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Hey football fans…there’s a new league in town and Lookout Mountain Rec wants YOU (well, your kid)!

While youth football has been available for years, a new co-ed flag football team has recently formed. Registration opened late August for boys AND girls in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. It's not too late to sign up, but hurry – registration ends Monday, September 19.

Practices and games will be on Mondays and Wednesdays, with Saturday games starting after the soccer season. Organizers are working around soccer schedules so kids can play both. Most games and practices will be held at Stamps Field behind Lookout Mountain School.

The cost to play is just $65 for the season, which will run from October until mid-November. Sign up today on the Lookout Mountain Rec Blue Sombrero Site.

If you have any questions, please reach out to Scott Shell at (423) 619-4944 or lookoutmountainsports@comcast.net.

Why I Love Lookout: Ashley and Benjamin Grizzell

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Choosing a place to live can be a difficult decision. And then sometimes, it chooses you. That was how it went for Benjamin Grizzell and his wife Ashley, who moved to Lookout Mountain in 2011.

We were driving up 59, headed to Chattanooga to look at places to live,” he recalls. “As soon as I saw Lookout Mountain I said, ‘I want to live up there.’

At the time they were living about 45 minutes outside of Birmingham, where Ashley worked with a software consulting firm and Benjamin owned his own tech company. Just one month back from maternity leave with their first child, Ashley was encouraged to apply for a promotion that would move their young family to Chattanooga.

Before relocating, Benjamin went to a Chattanooga alumni gathering for University of Alabama – where he and Ashely met as undergrads. While he never thought anywhere but Tuscaloosa could be home, he was hoping his “Alabama family” would help steer them toward the best area to live.

In the parking lot afterward, Tim Miller of Lookout Mountain introduced himself and even offered a place to stay during house hunting trips. Benjamin took him up on the offer several times, visiting local churches, schools and meeting with real estate agents.

Everyone I met on Lookout Mountain was so nice,” he recalls. “I just remember thinking, ‘these are the kind of people I want to live around.’

Even so, the Grizzells house hunt wasn’t exactly smooth sailing. When they toured their current home – a two-story brick home built in 1984 – the couple had very different experiences.

“I fell in love immediately,” says Ben. “Halfway through I was planning which walls to knock down and I think Ashley was still standing at the front door crying.”

The renovation process has been a long journey, taking it room by room with Benjamin doing most of the work. It’s a far cry from their second choice home – a fully renovated house on the 17th green of Signal Mountain’s golf course.

In the end we chose the community,” says Ashley. “Signal is great, but it seemed too big. It’s a city on a mountain, whereas Lookout is more like a community.

Today the two are grateful for their foresight. They are actively involved with their church, Our Lady of the Mount, and Benjamin is a volunteer firefighter for Lookout Mountain, GA.

Ashley also enjoys her 15-minute commute to her downtown office – the shortest of all her co-workers. She works as managing director of a software consulting company. Benjamin is a real estate photographer, with flexible hours that allow him to be the primary parent to their two kids, ages 5 and 18 months.

Sitting on their back deck with the sun setting behind the trees, it’s as if their home was tailor-made for the Grizzells. They have a wooded backyard their kids love to explore, but close neighbors who call when they smell Benjamin firing up his grill.

“Lookout Mountain reminds me of where I grew up,” says Benjamin. “It’s a small, safe community. But the people are by far my favorite thing.”

New Photo Site for Lookout Mountain

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Living On Lookout is happy to announce a new Shutterfly Share Site.

Now you can view and even order pictures from recent community events.

Are you a shutterbug? Then request to become a member and contribute your own photos!

Guidelines for members are that all photos must be of a community event (schools, churches, organizations) and everyone in the pictures consents to being photographed and posted on a public platform.

To request becoming a member - or for any other questions - please email us at editor@livingonlookout.com.

Lula Lake Expands Environmental Education Program

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A new school year means hitting the books. But if you’re Holley Roberts, it means hitting the trail. The 31-year-old Americorps VISTA is busy writing outdoor education curricula for Lula Lake Land Trust. While LLLT has always opened its gates for school groups, Roberts’s work will ultimately take it from “cool fieldtrip” to “outdoor science lab.”

We’re trying to make it a more formalized process,” she says. “Right now I’m writing curricula that can be tailored to any program a class wants to do, while also meeting state standards.

Children may dig for plant fossils at the Durham Mine site, scour Rock Creek for macro invertebrates, learn what color flowers butterflies prefer in the pollinator garden, or how to protect the property’s hemlock from the invasive Woolly Adelgid.

The goal is to have the same group of students out to the property two or three times during the school year, and build long-term relationships with teachers so it happens year after year. Since starting in May, Roberts has personally reached out to local public, charter and even home schools. So far the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, Charlotte Mason Homeschool Group, Stone Creek Elementary and Heritage High School have signed on.

“We’re trying to reach out as much as we can, but my problem is overextending,” admits Roberts. “We’re still figuring what a program like this can accommodate, but I think ideally we’d like to partner with 7 to 10 schools.”

Lula Lake’s efforts are part of growing movement to take school outside. Several area schools have built outdoor classrooms to incorporate environmental or “place-based” education. Walker County schools recently hosted an Environmental Education Summit that included every school administrator in the system, and Gilbert Elementary in Lafayette is the first public school in the country to launch a forest kindergarten.

I’ve been super impressed with the local reception,” says Roberts, who previously worked in the New Orleans school district. “It’s exciting that both teachers and parents are buying in to the idea that tangible experiences outdoors are good for not only a child’s formal education but also development.

An important piece of the puzzle for LLLT is a partnership with the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute, who recently sent biologists to inventory the aquatic life of Rock Creek. The synergistic relationship helps both groups with their conservation and educational outreach efforts.

In fact, education and conservation seem inextricably linked for any land trust. People are far less likely to protect a place they don’t love; and it’s difficult to love a place you don’t understand, says Roberts.

We would like more kids to have a Lula Lake story,” says Roberts. “The property already has its own personality or character. It’s not just a patch of woods…it’s that, but so much more. Our goal is to share that as best we can with future generations.

Roberts knows that relationship first hand, growing up in the shadows of the Smoky Mountains. She has worked for the United States Park Service, served in the Peace Corps in West Africa and spent nearly a decade teaching indoors and out in both New Orleans and her hometown of Cookeville, TN.

Robert’s position is a year-long commitment (ending in May) but the program allows Lula Lake to employ a VISTA for 3 years through federal grant money. The ultimate goal would be to hire a full-time environmental education coordinator.

Important Message About Skating Rink

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Just a friendly reminder….the Gym and Skating Rink at Lookout Mountain School is only open to residents of the Town of Lookout Mountain, TN or the City of Lookout Mountain, GA. Recent abuses of this rule have led town officials to ask for a photo ID before checking out the key at the dispatcher desk at Tennessee’s Town Hall.

Only residents 18 years and older can reserve the space, which is open on weekends or after 5 pm on weekdays (except during basketball season, which runs January through early March). Reservations are not required, but it’s suggested you call 423-821-1226 to check availability.

People have long enjoyed the space for birthday parties or a play area when weather prohibits time at the Town Commons. The space has also been used as a make-shift rec center, holding ballet or Spanish classes after school. Groups should call 423-821-6212 to request permission from the Community Center Board.

National Treasures: Centennial Picnic in Point Park this Thursday

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You may have climbed the cannons at Point Park or admired the views of the distant river snaking through downtown. But you only get one chance a year to party in the Park. And if you want to make it this year, you better hurry.

The eighth annual “National Treasures” event – held this Thursday, August 25 – is getting close to a sellout event. It’s hosted by the Friends of Chickamauga & Chattanooga National Military Park, a non-profit that serves as an advocate for the country’s oldest military park.

Buy tickets now

The casual evening features live music, activities and al fresco dining on the park lawn – a unique privilege at a park that normally doesn’t even allow picnics. What makes this year even more special is it coincides with the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

Each year, National Treasures honors our local National Park and commemorates the important role it plays in our community,” says National Treasures Chair Becky Browder. “This year is especially significant, as we also celebrate the importance of the National Park Service that manages 407 sites across the country, maintaining America’s natural and historic treasures.

From 5:30 pm to 8:30 pm, you can enjoy breathtaking views as you stroll along the park’s paths, listen to the music of the Power Players underneath the iconic New York Peace Monument, and toast the centennial of the National Park Service.

There will be living history re-enactments of Civil War activity and a special 100th Anniversary presentation on the creation and history of the Park Service. Umbrella Rock (pictured above) will also be exclusively open for this event, allowing you to ‘gram Chattanooga’s first tourist destination.

National Treasures 2016: Centennial Picnic in Point Park

August 25, 5:30 to 8:30 pm
$75 for individual, $130 per couple
Tickets are available online or by calling Tricia Mims, Executive Director, at (423) 648-5623.

Fairyland Club Welcomes New Executive Chef

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Chef Cristian Adasme’s first day on the job as executive chef at the Fairyland Club was what you might call a bad day. Not only was he handling the second largest banquet of the year, a surprise health inspection scored his new kitchen one point above failing.

It was challenging, but everything happens for a reason,” he says half smiling. “At least it showed me where I needed to focus my efforts first.

The mistakes were small but counted as double since they were repeat offenses. But if any person was prepared to handle reorganizing and retraining a kitchen staff, it was Chef Adasme. You could even say he wrote the book on it.

As a teacher at Atlanta’s Le Cordon Bleu International cooking school for almost a decade, Adasme was in charge of the white tablecloth, student-run restaurant. The rigorous task was the equivalent of opening a new restaurant every three weeks. He developed books for each station so that students knew the exact process of each dish, from pantry to plating.

The main problem with every restaurant is consistency; you have to have a playbook that says ‘this is what we’re doing,’” he says. “What I’ve done so far is implement a system, laying the foundation for deep-rooted change.

That’s not to say he doesn’t also have big plans for the menu. He’s already instituted weekly specials highlighting a different cuisine each week, such as Italian or Creole. His fall menu debuts this month, which will feature the freshest of fall’s product.

Ultimately he envisions everything in the Fairyland Club kitchen being made from scratch, from dressings to French fries to pasta. He would also like to develop a charcuterie plate from meat that is butchered and processed in-house, such as cured salami or smoked sausage. He knows this will take a culture shift and time, but is pleased with the reception so far – from the staff to management to members.

I’d love to put the Fairyland Club on the culinary map; just look at this view,” he says motioning to the back deck. “You can’t get that anywhere downtown.

While he acknowledges it’s an ambitious goal, he has the culinary chops to make it happen. His resume includes one of Atlanta’s oldest and finest restaurants, Nikolais’ Roof; Buckhead’s French bistro, Anis; and his time as Lead Instructor at Le Cordon Bleu. There he worked with some of the country’s top chefs, helped train at the school’s Ottawa, Canada campus, participated in a TV cooking show and was featured in Atlanta and national magazines.

Adasme never wants his food to seem pretentious. He prefers to elevate simple ingredients through technique, rather than “re-sell” an expensive product. This approach probably stems from his childhood in Santiago, Chile where fresh, homegrown food was the only option. Even so, he entered the food world in a rather unusual way.

“My greatest inspiration was my mom, who was a terrible cook,” he laughs. “So I started cooking for the family every Sunday.”

After studying law for three years in Chile, he gave everything up to follow a girl to the States. At 21, he arrived at the Atlanta airport with two bags and a guitar, speaking little to no English. He got the only job that didn’t require him to be fluent – a busboy in a restaurant – and the culinary light switch flipped on.

While he loved his career in Atlanta, years later a different female would inspire his move to Chattanooga – his daughter Gabriela. She moved to the area a few years ago with her mom, Adasme’s first wife. As fate would have it, Chattanooga is also where Adasme met his fiancé, Sara. Together they have two boys: Sebastian, 2 and Carlos, born just two weeks before he came aboard as the Club’s executive chef.

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