Enix rides front and center in merchants’ parade; draws biggest crowd ever

Published 6:17 pm Saturday, November 18, 2023

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The New Tazewell Merchants’ Association Christmas Parade has enjoyed for nearly half a century a well-loved tradition in Claiborne County and this year’s installment easily amassed a record-breaking attendance. Parents and youngsters stood shoulder-to-shoulder throughout most of the parade route, in many areas two and three deep, as the floats made their way up South Broad Street in New Tazewell.

Local businesswoman Polly Enix, whose idea to bring a bit of cheer to her neighbors each holiday season via colorful floats and bright Christmas colors, was honored this year as the parade’s Grand Marshal. Riding in the parade was also longtime businessman Gary Stansberry, who was chosen Honored Merchant for the 2023 installment. Stansberry has thrived for 55 years in business with his popular barbershop.

Enix came up with the concept for a parade 49 years ago and the idea stuck. Each year, the event draws crowds of eager folk along the parade route that runs up South Broad Street in New Tazewell from the Cumberland Gallery Shopping Center to Walgreens. It’s a cemented tradition handed down from generation to generation as kids grow up and return bringing their offspring in eager tow.

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Polly and her late-husband Jack moved to Claiborne County in 1961. The couple raised three children and ran the family business together for 20 years, eventually handing over the lucrative jewelry store to their son Benny, who stepped in to continue the legacy.

Jack opened Enix Jewelry in 1959 following graduation from Eglin Watch Maker School located in Illinois. His brother enjoyed a thriving jewelry business in nearby Middlesboro. Jack figured it could be a good, honest way to make a living since he was good with his hands when it came to repairing anything.

Jack passed away in August 2022 at the age of 93, leaving his pride and joy in good hands. He was often quoted as saying “Claiborne County has been good to us.”

When asked what her favorite thing about New Tazewell is, Polly said “the people. You could not ask for better.”

Those who knew Polly, and even casual acquaintances, seem to think the energetic former business owner is pretty neat, herself. When news spread that Polly would be this year’s Grand Marshal of the Christmas Parade, congratulations poured in.

Jeanette Noe said on the Progress’s Facebook post that she was “so happy.

“This is great. She’s a wonderful lady.”

Judi Swilling says Polly being picked for Grand Marshal “could not be a better choice.”

Glenda Carter and Marilyn Humfleet said the honor was so well deserved and that Polly is the perfect person to head up this year’s parade. Jennifer Hunter and Sarah Lemons agreed that Polly is truly amazing and that the honor is well deserved.

Polly gave one important piece of advice when it comes to handling a successful business. She insists that how you treat your customers is the one determining factor in your professional longevity.

“It matters. Happy customers make the business, so treat them right and they come back.”

Polly worked tirelessly for over 20 years as President of the Merchant’s Association, devoting most of each year calling on participants and generally using her eye for details to create yet another spectacular parade. Her ride up South Broad Street brought back a plethora of memories of Christmas Parades past for those lined along the parade route, cheering her on.

Winners of the 2023 float competition are:

Religious Float

1st Place- Springdale Baptist Church

2nd Place- Fords Chapel Church

Commercial Floats

1st Place- Smoky Mountain Hospice

2nd Place- Walmart

3rd Place – First Century Bank