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!

District Baseball Tournament Comes to Lookout this Weekend

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The 7- and 8-year-old Dixie Youth Baseball District Tournament comes to Lookout Mountain's Senter Field this weekend at the Town Commons. Games will be held Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Monday evening. The tournament is a yearly tradition, with Lookout Mountain hosting a different age group each year.

Lookout Mountain’s 7- and 8-year-olds will face off against Red Bank this Friday at 7:30 p.m. They’ll go on to play Saturday at either 11 or 12:30 p.m., depending on if they win. The 9- and 10-year-old District Tournament will also take place this weekend in Red Bank, while the 11- and 12-year-olds move to the state tournament in Loretta, Tenn.

Head over to the Commons this weekend for your dose of summer youth baseball. Games begin Friday at 6:00 p.m

Make Arrangements to Buy This Book

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Your next beach book will soon be out! Ferris Robinson’s debut novel, Making Arrangements, will be released on Amazon Kindle on July 5.

If you voted for it during her Kindle Scout campaign this spring, you should have already been notified it’s available for download. Otherwise, you can pre-order the e-book through Amazon or contact her directly for a hard copy, which should arrive later this month.

Ferris Robinson is the author of five books, editor of the Mountain Mirror and a regular columnist at Chattanoogan.com. Published numerous times in the Christian Science Monitor and Chicken Soup for the Soul series, she writes about her life – the good, the bad, the crazy – with a humor to which everyone can appreciate and relate. Making Arrangements is her first fiction novel.

For more details, contact her at ferrisrobinson@gmail.com.

Top Runners Attracted to Lookout Mountain for this Weekend's Stage Race

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60 miles. 3 mountains. 3 days. That’s what is attracting some of the top runners in the country to Lookout Mountain this weekend.

The Wild Trails Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race kicks off today, celebrating its 10th anniversary with about 150 racers. And while it began as a local contest, this year’s race welcomes one of the fastest 100K runners in American history, Patrick Reagan of Savannah, Ga.

Other notable names include Ooltewah’s Bob Adams, winner of March’s inaugural Chattanooga Marathon; Chattanooga’s Daniel Hamilton, winner Wild Trail’s Lookout Mountain 50 miler; and David Kilgore of Palm Bay, Fla., the race’s all-time record holder.

The Stage Race will span 3 days, starting with 18 miles on Raccoon Mountain, 22 miles on Lookout Mountain followed by a 20-mile grand finale on Signal Mountain. The Lookout Mountain portion takes place at Lula Lake Falls and includes grueling climbs – the first one is so steep, you need to use a rope to pull you up the side of the mountain. Scrapes and bruises are almost guaranteed, both the physical kind and those of the ego.

While popular in Europe, stage races are relatively rare in the United States – particularly in the Southeast. However, the Chattanooga Mountains Stage Race continues to grow in popularity thanks to the area’s diverse trail offerings and the work of Wild Trails, directed by Randy Whorton.

Ferris Robinson's First Novel Accepted into Kindle Scout

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After more than 20 years as a freelance writer there are very few places Ferris Robinson’s byline hasn’t appeared– newspapers, e-zines, magazines, coffee table books…even cookbooks. But the one place that eluded her remained a lifelong dream: on the cover of a novel.

It’s always been a goal,” she says. “It’s one of those things, if I dropped dead tomorrow and never tried I would’ve deeply regretted it.

So she wrote that novel four years ago. After sending what felt like a gazillion copies to publishing houses across the country, she stumbled upon a literary agent in New York specializing in women’s fiction. It seemed the stars had finally aligned for the Lookout Mountain native.

And then…nothing.

“She tried to sell it for about a year,” recalls Robinson. “I was so discouraged after that, I put it in a drawer and forgot about it.”

It might have stayed there too if Alice Smith – Robinson’s friend and literary sounding board – hadn’t encouraged her to revisit it. Robinson went through it again, and again, and again. Its current iteration hardly resembles the piece she started with.

“Even to this day, every time I read it I make a change!” she laughs.

Her hard work paid off this spring however, when her first novel, Making Arrangements was accepted into Amazon’s Kindle Scout program. The brand new platform allows readers a chance to help decide if a book gets published based on its first few chapters. Authors submit their works to Kindle Scout for approval into a 30-day campaign. Readers “scout” the site, nominating up to three books at a time.

Selection standards are almost as secretive as Google algorithms. Readers’ votes count but do not ultimately determine if a book gets published. Once selected, eBooks are published through Kindle Press and given the enviable advantage of Amazon’s marketing. Authors are also given an advance and eBook royalties.

“I was thrilled when I heard the news – I couldn’t stop screaming!” she says.

Another big perk of Kindle Scout is that authors retain the print publishing rights. Robinson has already ordered hard copies and plans to sell them locally later this month (as soon as Kindle Scout announces the eBook release date). Stay tuned to Living On Lookout for updates.

About the author

Ferris Robinson is the author of five books, editor of the Mountain Mirror and a regular columnist at Chattanoogan.com. Published numerous times in the Christian Science Monitor and Chicken Soup for the Soul series, she writes about her life – the good, the bad, the crazy – with a humor to which everyone can appreciate and relate. Making Arrangements is her first fiction novel.

Bike, Hike, Climb Lookout Mountain

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Turning 100 is a pretty big deal. The National Park Service is kicking off its centennial celebration in style, with events at parks across the country. Party central for Chattanooga is at Lookout Mountain’s Cravens House.

This Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. you can see Lookout Mountain in a new way, whether that’s scaling the face of its cliffs, gliding down its trails by bike or letting history unfold as you hike along its paths.

The National Park Service staff has partnered with Outdoor Chattanooga to ensure you can hike, bike or climb Lookout Mountain safely, guided by volunteers and/or staff. All events will stage with registration at Cravens House, and you’re encouraged to bring water and appropriate clothing. See below for details.

  • Rock Climbing: 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. with registration slots every hour. Includes a 1-mile hike from Cravens House to the climbing area near Sunset Rock. Park at Cravens House ONLY.

  • Mountain Biking: Rides will begin at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m. at Cravens House. If you need a bike, you can pre-register for one by calling Outdoor Chattanooga at (423) 643-6888. (Limited number available)

  • Hiking: Approximately 2-4 mile hikes begin at Cravens House at 9 a.m., 12 p.m., and 3 p.m. Moderate difficulty. Wear sturdy hiking shoes.

Summer Day Camps on Lookout Mountain

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If the first few weeks of school have you wondering when school starts, may we suggest some camps on Lookout Mountain to fill the days? There are plenty of options with a wide range of interests, ranging from engineering to outdoor exploring. It’s never too late to squeeze in one more week of fun.

Naturalist Camp at Reflection Riding
Catering to ages 6 to 13, Reflection Riding will have your little explorer hiking, canoeing, feeding animals and even wallowing in a mud pit. Older campers will enjoy field trips like hiking the base of Lula Lake Falls and exploring a cave at Raccoon Mountain Caverns. See their website for dates and prices.

Commons Camp
Join the tradition with Commons Camp, entertaining Lookout Mountain little ones since the ‘40s. Crafts, dodge ball, ping pong, story time, snow cones and water days are all part of the fun, as well as plenty of time in the new gladiator pit. Running June 6 through July 22, hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. for 6-12 year olds. Four and five year olds are welcomed Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. until noon. Fees are $175 for the summer, or $15 each day ($90 or $10 per day for the Kiddie Program). You can pay upon arrival or mail your check to Lookout Mountain Recreation Board, PO Box 413, Lookout Mountain, TN 37350.

Camp Invention
Next-generation inventors will not want to miss this “Epic” opportunity. Mini Mr. Wizards will create solar-powered, robotic crickets; design zip lines and water flumes for “Epic Park;” explore the science behind 3D printing and so much more. Real world challenges are also covered, like creating business pitches and soliciting feedback from fellow inventors. Cost is $220 for all week (July 18 - July 22), 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. Learn more

Fighting Summer Slide on Lookout Mountain

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School is finally out! But that doesn’t mean your kid’s brain should be. “Summer slide” is a very real (and preventable) phenomenon. Here’s how you can stop summer learning loss without leaving Lookout Mountain.

1. Start a book club
You don’t even have to leave your house to inspire lifelong learning. Start a family book club where you all take turns reading the same book then discussing what you liked and did not like. You could also recruit a group of your child’s classmates and/or friends to start a book club. The group could meet once a month to discuss the book and even do a themed craft.

2. Visit the library
Lookout Mountain School has library hours scheduled throughout the summer. Check their website for dates as well as reading lists per grade level. Fairyland Elementary’s Media Center is closed during summer months, but librarian Melissa Cairns has compiled a Top 10 Fairyland Favorites list organized by author (see below).

3. Sneak in learning at an educational camp
Camp Invention returns to Lookout Mountain School, inspiring and unlocking the potential of next-generation inventors. Campers not only explore, create and invent –they’re given real world challenges such as creating business pitches and soliciting feedback from fellow inventors. For more information on this national program, visit the Camp Invention website.

Top 10 Fairyland Favorites

  • Mo Willems (specifically his ‘Pigeon’ and ‘Elephant and Piggie’ series)

  • Melanie Watt (specifically her ‘Scaredy Squirrel’ and ‘Chester’ series)

  • Dr. Seuss

  • William Joyce: (specifically "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" and "The Numberleys." Also look for corresponding iPad apps)

  • BJ Novak ("The Book with No Pictures")

  • Kate DiCamillo

  • Roald Dahl (look for his acclaimed "The BFG," which is coming out as a movie this summer)

  • JK Rowling ("Harry Potter" was voted Fairyland’s top chapter book character several years in a row)

  • Emily Jenkins ("Toys Go Out")

  • RA Spratt (specifically the ‘Nanny Piggins’ series)

Battles for Chattanooga 2.0: Electric Map Becomes Digital Presentation

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Time travel still alludes us. But technology does make it possible to “see” the Civil War’s battles for Chattanooga in a completely new light. See Rock City (SRC) has partnered with local company Juncture, LLC to revitalize the Battles for Chattanooga (BFC) presentation at its museum right outside Point Park.

Time increases the gap between historical events and the present,” said SRC CEO Bill Chapin. “In order to engage current generations, BFC has decided to update the technology used to bring these events to life.

Chattanooga’s Civil War history has long fascinated tourists from across the nation. Now guests will now be able to better visualize the battles thanks to cutting-edge technology. The former electric map has been transformed into a multimedia projection mapping with high color saturation, short-throw digital projectors, solid-state media players and 3-D modeling software.

“Most people don’t understand that the five battles that took place here in Chattanooga were about two factions seeking to control a major economic hub with a huge railroad infrastructure,” says Strat Parrott, Juncture founder and CEO. “As Chattanooga continues to be talked about as a southern city reinventing itself, we need to remember that our city has been a driving force in the nation’s economy dating back to the 1850s.”

The battles for Chattanooga changed the outcome of the Civil War, sealing the fate of the Confederacy. The new show highlights some of the most pivotal moments, including the Battle Above the Clouds and Sherman’s assault on Missionary Ridge before his historic March to the Sea.

After the presentation, guests can tour the famous battlefield above the clouds at nearby Point Park. The museum also features an excellent relic and weapon collection and adjoining bookstore stocked with well-known works about the Civil War.

The media is invited to preview the presentation today at a special ceremony, opening to the public just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

Battles for Chattanooga
1110 East Brow Road, Lookout Mountain, TN
More Info


Memorial Day Artillery Program
Saturday, May 28
10:30 am, 11:30 am, 1:30 pm, 2:30 pm, 3:30 pm
Visitors are invited to bring a photograph or small memento of a friend or loved one who died in the line of duty, as these servicemen and women will be recognized during the program

Ranger-guided Tours of Point Park
Saturday, May 28 and Sunday, May 29
11 am and 2 pm

Cravens House open to the public
1 pm to 5 pm all weekend

Ms. Margie Retires After 19 Years at LMS

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Margie Parker will always be grateful for radiators.

Nearly 20 years ago, her husband’s niece got a job cleaning second shift at Lookout Mountain School. Working in the middle of the night amid the clanging, outdated heating system gave her the creeps, so she took a pay cut and asked the school to hire Margie as her helper.

Today the radiators are long gone, and Ms. Margie has become a fixture in her own right. She’s more famous for her hugs than her mop bucket, but you’d be hard pressed to find a crumb after the final lunch period.

Sadly, next week will be Ms. Margie’s last at LMS. She’s decided to retire this year due to arthritis that makes operating the heavy machinery and navigating the stairs difficult. To say she’ll be missed is an understatement.

Officially Ms. Margie’s job has been to open the school each morning, keep common areas clean throughout the day and perform basic maintenance, which ranges from pencil sharpeners to printers.

To the kids she’s more like a mom away from home. She’s often the first to hear about a loose tooth or weekend plans to visit grandma. One little boy, Charlie Byrum proposed marriage nearly every day from kindergarten through 1st grade.

“I told him I was already married but he would say, ‘We can work around that,’” she says with a smile. “The kids have made this job so worthwhile. I may just be the janitor but I feel like I’ve made a difference in their lives. I so appreciate the time they’ve spent with me.”

The kids have made this job so worthwhile. I may just be the janitor but I feel like I’ve made a difference in their lives. I so appreciate the time they’ve spent with me.

That’s not to say she won’t also miss the parents and other staff. Over the years she has been blown away by their support, including the 8-weeks-worth of dinners they prepared and delivered when she had surgery a few years back.

Ms. Margie is always willing to help where needed, whether that’s covering in the front office or taking apart a jammed door handle. Last year she and her husband, Roy bought the school’s trophy case with their own money, simply because it was needed.

We’re like a family here,” she says. “We all work together to do what’s best for the school. Of the 29 years I’ve worked here, 19 have been at LMS. These are my friends.

And while she’s never taught in the classroom, she shares her love of reading by example. In her rare spare moments, you’ll find her with her nose in a book. Always a voracious reader, one year she kept track of the books she read. The grand total was 166.

Her “retirement” doesn’t include much slowing down. She plans to help a handful of families cleaning houses three or four days a week. She’ll also find time to accompany Roy on one of their favorite past times – combing for deals at flea markets and yard sales.

I can’t sit still for too long,” she laughs. “If I had my choice, I’d rather stay here. And I cannot thank everyone enough for the gift at the PTA meeting. I so appreciate everything they’ve done for me over the years.

The gift was a monogrammed purse with money inside collected from parents and teachers. But she was most touched by the collection of cards and pictures.

I save every single card or picture I’ve received,” she says. “When I look back over the years at my collection, it’s so touching it makes me want to cry sometimes.

Cafe on the Corner and KKB Celebrate CF Awareness Month

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What: CFF Fundraiser at Cafe on the Corner
When: May 24, 5 – 9 p.m.

Come enjoy Kid’s Night at the Café (kids eat free with the purchase of an entrée) and help celebrate CF Awareness Month. Donations of any size will be happily accepted at the event, or you can give online at KKB’s team page.

If you met four-year-old Kenneth “King” Birnbaum on the street, you’d never imagine he takes 13 different medications every day just to stay healthy. Or that he requires a feeding tube every night, and two hours of respiratory therapy each day. 

Being King is hard work, but he seizes every minute of life and you will rarely catch him without a smile!” says his mom, Ginger.

King is one of approximately 30,000 Americans living with Cystic Fibrosis, a life-threatening, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and progressively limits one’s ability to breathe. Since birth, King has endured approximately 20,000 hours of treatment – and that’s just maintenance therapy. When infections aggravate his symptoms, trips to Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt are often needed, sometimes resulting in two-week stays. All told, he has spent roughly 70 days in specialized care.

But there’s another important number for the Birnbaum family - 170,000. That’s the amount of money they’ve raised for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation since 2011. For the past three years, Ginger and her husband Alex have chaired CFF’s largest local fundraiser, Three Blind Wines.

They also commit to raising roughly $30,000 annually through their National Family Team, Kenneth King’s Believers, or KKB. King’s big sister, Emma Virginia started her own CFF team this year and raised over $2,000 (her goal was $200!)

Ginger also serves as President of CFF’s local board of directors, and co-chairs the national program representing family teams like KKB. She juggles all of these demands with unbelievable energy and optimism, mainly because she knows every dollar donated to CFF goes toward research, patient assistance and patient care.

The drug breakthroughs that have been made possible by CFF keep us committed 100% to raising money for more research,” she says. “We know we’re adding tomorrows, not only for our son, but for all our CF friends.

In fact, one of those friends lives on Lookout Mountain. Bridget and Mike Lane’s daughter, Mary Alice also lives with CF. She will graduate Fairyland School this year.

“It’s pretty cool to have a CF role model right here in our neighborhood!” says Ginger. “Mary Alice is one of Emma Virginia’s favorite older girls. She is quite aware that the money she raises goes to support her friend Mary Alice, too.”

Currently there is no cure for cystic fibrosis, yet numerous breakthroughs have recently been made. The month after King was born Kalydeco was brought to market as the first drug that treats CF at the cellular level. Since there are over 1,800 mutations of CF, it does not treat everyone. But another drug, Orkambi was released this year and has the potential to treat a larger slice of the CF population.

“King does not qualify for either of these drugs because his combination of mutations is more rare,” says Ginger. “But medicines like this give us hope that one day in the not-too-distant future there will be a drug to make our son better."

And here’s where you come in…

Next Tuesday, May 24, Café on the Corner and KKB are partnering to raise money and awareness for CF. It’s the Café’s weekly Kid’s Night, so little ones eat free with the purchase of an entrée. All you have to do it gather your family and friends and head to the Café for a fun evening out. Balloon artist Grandpa Giggles will even be there.

When the check comes, consider the money you just saved and make a donation to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. Whatever amount you can spare will add hope – and more importantly tomorrows – for kids like King.

“We are so touched that Ruth offered to do this,” says Ginger. “She is one of those people who truly want to know what progress is being made in research and how it can help King get better.”

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