What makes Lookout Mountain home

What's on your summer bucket list? A hike to Glen Falls? A mountain bike ride on the Cloudland Connector Trail? Or maybe a road trip to Nashville to see Alan Shuptrine's new watercolor exhibit?

The season has already kicked off with Community Movie Night. There's another in August and here's 5 reasons you can't miss it. Get ready for the fun, because summers on Lookout are anything but lazy!

Cravens House Christmas Open House

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If it’s time to overhaul your Christmas décor, consider looking to years past for inspiration. Say…last century? On Friday, December 4 and Saturday, December 5 from 6 to 8 p.m., the Cravens House will hold its annual Christmas Open House – a rare glimpse of the home as it would have appeared 150 years ago.

“It is a magical night, bathed mostly in candlelight, with the city lights twinkling in the distance,” says Eve Soltau, a member of Lookout Mountain Beautiful Garden Club who decorates the house each year.

The evening is an immersion in the Christmas traditions of the Victorian era, from dress to decorations to music. Rangers lead groups of 12 through the home, with living historians in each room giving brief talks.

“I like that people get to see Christmas from a time period and experience what people did 150 years ago,” says Anton Heinlein, the park ranger coordinating the event. “It’s kind of remarkable to see the similarities from then to now.”

Considered to be the first year-round resident of Lookout Mountain, Robert Cravens built his now-famous home shortly after moving to area in 1838. During the Civil War it served as Confederate Headquarters, but when the war turned in favor of the North, Union soldiers tore out the floorboards and wall boards for firewood, souvenirs and various other purposes.

Cravens rebuilt his home after the war in 1866, where it stands as a monument to Lookout Mountain’s first settlers. The Cravens Holiday Open House is the only time you can tour the home outside of its regular summer hours. Tours start every 30 minutes, and reservations are required due to capacity constraints.

To make your reservations, call the Lookout Mountain Battlefield Visitor’s Center at 423-821-7786.

Rock Creek Aviation Takes Off

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Watching the leaves change on Lookout Mountain will never get old. But a local father-daughter team wants you to see them from a completely new perspective – as in 10,000 feet up in the air.

If you’ve ever dreamed of soaring above the brow, Michelle and Michael Warren of Rock Creek Aviation have got you covered. Seating up to three in their Robinson R44 helicopter, they’ve given custom aerial tours for birthdays, anniversaries…they’ve even provided a grand exit for an adventurous bride and groom.

Don’t worry if you’re altitude adverse. Their bread-and-butter business is actually aerial photography. They’ve captured action shots of the Iron Man triathlon, bird’s-eye-view footage of Mocs games, and endless frame-worthy photos highlighting our area’s natural beauty. They’ve also filmed scenes for music videos, television…even movies.

Some of Michelle’s earliest memories include flying with her dad – waking up to the smell of the plane after a nap, or listening to him explain the physics of an airplane’s lift.

For as long as I can remember my dad has held his camera in one hand, the strap wrapped around his wrist, while also being completely consumed with all things in flight,” she recalls. “It was through my father’s interest in photography that I learned how to capture compositions.

These days it’s primarily Michael as pilot and Michelle as photographer. The two work together so seamlessly, she can have part of her body out of the helicopter and direct him in different directions and heights without ever taking her eye off the camera’s viewfinder. And while working with family can sometimes cause turbulence, Michelle says it’s been an easy fit.

“I feel like we’ve been working together on small projects since as long as I can remember,” she says. “My dad never gave me a simple OR short answer – there was always problem solving and experimenting to find a solution.”

Some of Michael’s favorite projects include shooting footage for movies Hamlet & Hutch and Remnants, as well as video for HGTV’s Extreme Decks, which captured decks along the brows of nearby mountains. Michelle enjoyed working on Tim McGraw’s music video, which ran like a well-oiled machine. They would film, land, and a van would pull up beside them to review footage, ensuring it was exactly what they wanted.

"After about the second or third scene the young man in charge of memory cards suggested to the director that he change the memory card each time ‘so that if they crash we won’t lose everything,’" Michael says with a laugh. “I guess it made sense – he was doing his job."

While dangers in flight exist, Michelle has never felt nervous when in the air with her father, an experienced pilot who’s been logging hours since high school. He became interested in helicopters about 14 years ago, telling his wife he thought he’d take a few lessons and “get it out of his system.” Since then he’s logged more than 2,000 helicopter hours.

He’s an incredibly safe, talented and adventurous pilot and always wants to share his passion by getting anyone and everyone up in the air,” she says. “Once you're in the air, you realize how small we really are. To be able to share the experience with people who have never flown their entire lives – or the few who have flown in wars and are having their first peaceful flight ever – is humbling.


First Annual Community Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting

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Start the holidays off merry and bright with Lookout Mountain’s first Community Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting, held November 30 from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m. The Lookout Mountain Georgia Fire and Police have held a Santa Parade for years, and Love Lookout has expanded that tradition with a tree lighting and celebration.

Our mission is to continually seek ways to make our community stronger, and I can’t think of a better way to do that than gathering with family, friends and neighbors to celebrate this special time of year,” says Daryl Heald, chair of Love Lookout. “We hope this will become an event that families across the mountain look forward to every season.

This is the second event sponsored by Love Lookout. The community movie night earlier this summer was their first, which attracted roughly 400 people ranging from babies to retirees.

Keep your eyes peeled for Santa Claus weaving his way through Fairyland in the early evening. The parade begins at 4:30 p.m. at Fairyland Elementary and will end around 6:30 p.m. at Georgia City Hall. (See below for exact route). There will be Christmas songs, hot chocolate, peppermints and cookies awaiting St. Nick, and the evergreen in front of City Hall will be lit around 7 p.m.

In conjunction with the festivities there will also be a toy drive, sponsored by Georgia Fire and Police. Please bring an unwrapped toy for “Stocking Full of Love,” a non-profit organization in Walker County that helps under privileged children in Walker County. Cash and non-perishable food items are also accepted.

Christmas Parade Route: Start at Fairyland School (4:30 p.m.), Red Riding Hood, Elfin Road, Hardy Road, Cinderella Road, Wood Nymph Trail, Peter Pan Road, Hardy Road, Aladdin Road, Wood Nymph Trail-to Rock City, Red Riding Hood Trail, Ending at City Hall

A Less Hurried Holiday

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Community Advent Taize Services
December 2, 9, 16; 6:00 to 6:45 p.m.

We’ve hardly brushed away the cobwebs of Halloween, and the Christmas catalogs have already started pouring in. If you’re craving a more peaceful holiday season this year, consider attending The Church of the Good Shepherd’s Community Advent Taize Services, held Wednesdays in December from 6:00 to 6:45 p.m.

The secular world tells us December is a time of hurry and rush; there’s a ‘Time is running out!’ mentality,” says Kathleen Crevasse, Good Shepherd’s director of Christian Formation. “Taize services allow you to slow down and experience a small piece of the wonder, mystery and beauty of this Advent season.

The Taize community was founded by Brother Roger more than 70 years ago, when he immigrated to France at age 25 following a calling to create a community. With a modest loan he bought a house with outlying buildings that were so rustic. there wasn’t even running water. It first served as a refuge for those fleeing the Second World War.

Today more than 100 brothers, Catholic and Protestant, make up the ecumenical monastic order. They come from all continents and major Christian denominations, some living in Taize and others in disadvantaged places throughout Asia, Africa and South America.

Thousands of pilgrims journey to Taize each year to work in the community, pray and experience Taize worship. The brothers remain devoted to a life of prayer, sharing, communal work and living in a spirit of kindness, simplicity and reconciliation between divided Christians and other separated people.

At The Church of the Good Shepherd, worship will be in the style of the Taize community – a meditative service that includes elements of silence, repetition and sung prayer. Visual enhancements of religious icons and candles help create a contemplative environment; an oasis from the hustle and bustle of the season. The adult choir will lead the congregation in singing, accompanied by violin, organ and flute.

Good Shepherd has been holding Taize services for several years. They hope the weekly service might be a modern-day refuge for the swirling chaos that Christmas has become.

New Website for Lookout Mountain Rec Sports

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Sport sign ups on the mountain just got a lot easier. On November 1, the Lookout Mountain Rec Department launched online registration through Blue Sombrero, a software platform sponsored by Dick’s Sporting Goods.

Online registration is just one of many features the company offers to youth rec leagues across the country. You can now register your child(ren) online, sign permission forms, get real time updates from coaches including rain outs, and even sign up as a team volunteer. The best part – Blue Sombrero automatically and securely saves all of your information from year to year, so you only enter it ONCE.

And parents aren’t the only winners. The software streamlines game scheduling, field reservations, team assignments and volunteer management. This makes things easier for both coaches and sport organizers, which could lead to more youth league offerings in the future.

Blue Sombrero was founded in 2002 by a passionate sports administrator who was tired of being buried in paperwork each season, much of which was lost or illegible. As a leading provider, they were once the most expensive platform on the market. The software is now FREE thanks to Dick’s Sporting Goods, who bought the company in 2012.

The new site can be found here, or by visiting the SPORTS tab on Living On Lookout. You’ll see detailed information such as season dates, age eligibility and sign up deadlines for each sport (basketball, football, soccer, baseball, wrestling).

To register, simply click the “REGISTER” button in the upper right-hand corner. You’ll be prompted to enter your information then add each participant (child). You can even add your spouse to keep the whole family in the loop with their calendar option. The last page automatically pulls the sports your child is eligible to sign up for based on the season, age and gender.

The new site comes just in time for basketball and wrestling sign ups (November 1 and 16, respectively). Baseball and softball registration will open in February.

What is Lula Lake Academy?

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When news broke of a possible middle and high school on Lookout Mountain, the reaction was a mixture of overwhelming enthusiasm…and a bit of confusion. So what is Lula Lake Academy?

As the brainchild of Debbie Tringale, executive director, Lula Lake is a “next generation school of arts and sciences.” It will offer both college prep and vocational curriculum, with a heavy bent toward environmental stewardship and civic responsibility.

"People heard ‘environmental education’ and sort of latched onto it because that’s the more widely recognized term,” explains Tringale. “But our mission is actually ‘place-based education,’ which has to do with the continuity of life. Students learn about themselves as part of an ecosystem."

Place-based education immerses students in local heritage, cultures, landscapes, opportunities and experiences, using these as a foundation for the study of language arts, mathematics, social studies, science and other subjects across the curriculum. PBE emphasizes learning through participation in service projects for the school and/or community.

- Promise of Place, an online resource for place-based education

Students will eat organic lunches from the active farm that’s planned on campus. They will hold science classes in the field, partnering with organizations like Lula Lake Land Trust. And school sports will not include football or basketball. Think instead, trail running, cross country, mountain biking, hiking, climbing, horseback riding, SUP paddleboard – even Olympic style archery.

We’re not going to appeal to everyone,” admits Tringale. “A lot of money gets invested in public schools because they have to try to be everything to everyone. We can limit what we’re doing. For example, the state mandates we provide for gifted and other special education, but we don’t have to teach Mandarin.

And while the school may seem unconventional at first glance, they’re following Georgia’s already approved curriculum. They’re just interpreting it a little differently, says Tringale.

As we started looking at it closely, we discovered you can teach college bound and career bound in the same curriculum,” she says.

To do so, students will choose a particular area of interest and take classes tailored to that path, also known as Georgia’s Career Clusters. The broad categories are Liberal Arts, Life Sciences and Physical Sciences. Students will separate in their junior year for either a college prep or vocational track, but will continue to take classes that pertain to their chosen future profession.

My favorite example of this is our Health Science Program,” says Tringale. “Upon graduation, students in this curriculum can immediately test to become a Certified Nursing Assistant if they’re career bound. If college prep, they can also include it on their application to nursing or medical school and it makes them better candidates.

Other programs include Law & Justice in the Liberal Arts school. Graduates are prepared for careers in law enforcement and probation, but also have the background to apply to paralegal school, or go to college and ultimately become a lawyer.

The Physical Sciences school has four programs – Energy, Water, Wood and Stone. Those in “Wood” can become carpenters or pursue careers in forest management. “Energy” students might become electricians or electrical engineers.

Conventional or not, Lula Lake Academy is the school the community built, says Tringale. As a mentor to young girls for many years, her initial idea was a school for girls. After talking to friends and residents, the need for a middle and high school became clear.

The school’s group of founders is half educators, half business professionals. They are also actively seeking more community members to serve on five new subcommittees, based on the state’s five recommendations to strengthen their charter school application.

In September, Lula Lake Academy received word their application for the 2016 school year was not approved. The news was expected, says Tringale, as most aren’t accepted on their first try. They hope to revise their application and resubmit, opening in 2017 for grades 6 through 8. Based on reception, they plan to add a high school grade sequentially each year.

When asked her dream for the school, Tringale wryly responds that dreams are for people who are asleep. She remains optimistic, yet fully aware of the upcoming hurdles the Academy faces – namely the state’s request for a board member with experience building a charter school.

For the most part, anyone who has experience running a charter school is usually running a charter school!” she laughs. “We’ve found qualified candidates, but no one so far who lives in Georgia – which is a requirement. We’ve had a lot of interest, but it’s difficult to overcome the need for experience.

One thing that hasn’t seemed a problem yet though is local interest. Lula Lake Academy hopes to fill 120 seats, and historically charter schools don’t go to full enrollment their first few years. Even so Tringale has been surprised how many parents are concerned their child won’t get a spot.

When I’m in community meetings I tell people from where I sit, I’m afraid there won’t be enough students to fill all the spaces,” she admits. “They all nudge each other and say, ‘not going to be a problem.’ So I guess we’ll see, but we’re very excited about the future.

More information on Lula Lake Academy here.

Holiday Marketplace Today

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Get a jump on your holiday shopping with Lookout Mountain’s first Holiday Marketplace today and tomorrow, 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. Not only can you score the perfect one-of-a-kind gift, you can even buy a new house!

The pop-up boutique is held at a recently renovated home that’s on the market – 412 East & West Road. Inside it’s stocked with specialty items from Louisa Guild Jewelry, monogrammed items from Thread & Ink, pottery from Hope + Mary Pottery, and gift items wrapping from Missy Talley.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect gift for Mom or something that won’t quite fit under the tree, this Holiday Market has all your holiday wishes covered.

Town Council Updates from GA + TN

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The Rec Board has launched a new website, Blue Sombrero, to help streamline sport sign ups. It can be used for registration, payment of fees as well as special forms. Once you register your child, the information is saved year to year. You can find a link to the page on Living On Lookout’s website under the “SPORTS” tab.


Parking at Sunset Rock in Tennessee continues to be a major issue according to Police Chief Randy Bowden, with cars being parked in nearby resident’s yards. Police have placed portable “No Parking” signs and cones but people are blatantly moving them and parking anyway. Cars are now being towed and citations written, and Chief Bowden and Mayor Carol Mutter plan to meet to discuss alternative plans, such as signs directing to alternative parking areas.

The Georgia commissioners are requesting bids to repaint center lines, or “stripe” city roads. Mayor Sandy Gothard proposed a schedule that begins with Lula Lake, Wood Nymph Trail, Fleetwood Drive and Robin Hood Trail in a loop. Phase two would include all of Fairyland proper, and phase three would be some outlying streets and Fort Stephenson and Fort Trace.

Georgia City Manager Brad Haven announced at this month’s town meeting he is putting the finishing touches on a presentation highlighting dilapidated and neglected properties in Georgia, to be presented to the council and city’s planning commission. Property owners will be given a certain amount of time to bring their properties up to code, or risk being condemned or even seized by the city.


Eagle Scout Jeremy Payne, along with financial help from the town, has recently completed a new community information kiosk at the gate to the Commons track. Brooke Pippenger, commissioner of parks and playgrounds, encourages residents to post event announcements or notices, such as lost dogs. Please be sure to take down whatever you post when no longer relevant.

Love Lookout is helping the town get ready for the holidays. The nonprofit group formed by Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church has donated new lights for the annual Christmas tree in Caldwell Park on Scenic Highway. They also are planning a tree lighting for November 30 at Georgia’s town hall. Hot chocolate, cookies, peppermint, singing of Christmas songs and possible Santa sighting are all planned. Before the 6:30 lighting, there will be a parade at 4:30 starting at Fairyland School.


The Great Pumpkin Chase is happening October 30 at Fairyland Elementary School. The annual fun run features music, a live emcee and a fall-themed track filled with hay bales and pumpkins. On October 7, Fairyland participated in the first International Walk to School day.

The Lookout Mountain School Carnival exceeded expectations this year, earning more profit than budgeted according to TN Commissioner of Schools Don Stinnett. The school’s greenhouse is progressing well, with framing and roof decking already installed.

Exciting Progress at Cafe on the Corner

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When I called Ruth Oehmig for an update on the Café, she enthusiastically responded, “I have so much to tell you.” It was a crisp fall day when we met at the new restaurant, its bright white exterior mellowed by the chic palate of grey and black inside.

We easily could’ve been standing in the buildout of the latest chic eatery in Buckhead or even Soho. A wall of windows lights the new bar area in front, occupying roughly one-third of the restaurant. Outside workers were putting up railings around the expanded patio, which now features a fire pit.

As we sat at one of the long grey, leather banquettes my mind reeled with possibilities for her exciting updates. Revamped menu? New Chef de Cuisine from California?

“I want to talk about the firemen,” she says firmly.

It’s not hard to imagine her gratitude for Lookout Mountain’s fire departments, who not only fought the raging gas fire that gutted her Café, but also hugged and cried with her as she watched her business go up in flames. Even so, few people realize just how far these men really went.

“Dangers existed with this fire that no one can comprehend,” she says.

It took several hours before the gas company’s technician could even arrive to shut off the gas that was feeding the 20-foot flames. When he did, the fire was so out of control he couldn’t access the shutoff valve. The firemen created a wall of water, while another walked him in, acting as a human shield from the heat and flames.

Meanwhile, on Scenic Highway another firefighter was shooting water onto the building’s roof to try and prevent the flames from leaping onto the next building. All of a sudden, a utility pole falls sending a live wire onto Watauga.

“This wire was dancing around snapping and cracking in the water, it’s a miracle no one was hurt,” she says.

Months later, Oehmig caught wind that some of the volunteer firemen’s equipment was inadequate. After some further investigating, she was shocked by what she learned.

While the city recently bought new turnout gear, there isn’t enough in the budget for things like beacons – which emit a screeching alarm if a fireman stops moving. The communication systems are also lacking. When the live wire fell on Watauga, the guys on Scenic were unaware.

They told me they get ‘resourceful,’ which means they buy things second hand – sometimes even out of their pockets,” explains Oehmig. “Some of the beacons don’t work. Would you want your husband going into a fire without that? I know we don’t live in downtown Manhattan where there are fires all the time, but I’m telling you we are messing with odds.

That is why, amid coordinating contractors and last minute restaurant details, one of Oehmig’s top priorities is hosting a Patio Party fundraiser for the Georgia Volunteer Firefighters.

This equipment isn’t cheap, often costing thousands of dollars each,” she says. “But these guys keep getting out of their beds at night, leaving their jobs or their families on Christmas morning to help their neighbors. It’s time we stepped up and helped them.

While there’s no a firm date yet, the fundraiser will be held before the grand opening, which is slated sometime late November/early December. Oehmig hopes everyone will come and “bring their checkbooks.”

This is not about finger pointing, I just want to raise awareness and talk about the things that need to be talked about to keep our community safe.

Stay tuned for updates on Cafe on the Corner's Patio Party and grand opening.

Polka Down at Rock City's Rocktoberfest

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If you’ve been dying to break out your lederhosen, don’t miss your chance to “polka down” at Rock City’s 10th annual Rocktoberfest. The iconic Southern attraction gets in touch with its German heritage, and the results are “sehr gut.”

Taking place Saturdays and Sundays for the next two weekends (through October 24), Rocktoberfest makes a perfect fall family outing. Enjoy authentic German tunes from bands like The Wurstbrats, sample beer cheese soup or bratwurst in the pavilion, or even take polka lessons.

Remember, Lookout Mountain resident's are eligible for a resident's pass, which includes entry to events like Rocktoberfest.

Some new highlights this year include Frieda’s Garden Heritage Tour, The Fall Fairy Haus scavenger hunt, “Say Oompah!” photo booth and specialty beer flights and soft pretzels at the Rock Patio Shop. Of course you can always check out the Birds of Prey Raptors Show in the Critter Classroom or enjoy storytelling from Ik the Troll King at the Cliff Terrace Porch.

The inspiration for the German celebration is Rock City’s founder, Frieda Utermoehlen Carter, whose love of German folklore and fairytales inspired the attraction’s beloved gnome décor. Guided tours at 9 am, 12 pm or 3 pm allow you to see how the enchanted trail was shaped by her heritage.

October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Rock City continues to partner with the Mary Ellen Locher Foundation with several “pink” products including Survivor Birdhouses and ornaments.

Visit Rock City’s website for more details and a schedule of events.

Community calendar