For the 34th year, Gatlinburg kicks off America’s Independence Day celebration with the nation’s first parade, which leads off at 12 a.m. on Saturday, July 4, to the cheers of close to 100,000 spectators and features a special tribute to our four branches of military service among the many highlights.
In recognition of the 75th Anniversary of the establishment of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as the birthday of our Country on July 4, the City of Gatlinburg will recreate the September 2, 1940, Presidential Motorcade of Franklin D. Roosevelt as it traveled through Gatlinburg on its way to Newfound Gap. There, perched high above a throng of onlookers, FDR officially dedicated the Park while standing with one foot in North Carolina and one foot in Tennessee.
The mobile reenactment will lead the 34th Annual 4th of July Midnight Parade, Presented by Land O’ Lakes Half & Half, at 12:01 a.m. in front of 100,000 patriotic spectators in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 4th, 2009. The Presidential Motorcade will be reproduced in vintage style with period automobiles (see the 1937 Packard below) and costuming as along with vintage motorcycles to escort the motorcade. Stretching more than a mile in length, over 100 units will make their way through Gatlinburg, showcasing many elaborately decorated floats, helium balloons, marching bands, equestrian entries and a large contingent of our armed services men & women.
As soon as the street is closed late on July 3, the parade route comes alive with pre-parade entertainers that begin the excitement of what is to follow. Marching bands, colorful floats and helium balloons will navigate the streets, with over 100 entries of all types scheduled to appear. “This will be one of the most patriotic and colorful midnight parades that the City of Gatlinburg has ever produced,” according to Special Events Manager George Hawkins, who organized the first Gatlinburg 4th of July parade in 1976 in celebration of America’s Bicentennial. “We are very excited about the entire weekend of events, which will include a 4-day festival highlighting our armed services!”
Gatlinburg’s popular River Raft Regatta takes place at noon on Saturday, July 4th, beginning at the Christus Gardens bridge on River Road and ending at the Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies bridge in downtown Gatlinburg. This unmanned river raft race will be hosted by the United States Navy and is open to anything floatable except balls and plastic eggs. In the past, families have entered boats made out of matchsticks, floating rocks, as well as little rubber ducks. Registration begins at 10 a.m., with the race beginning promptly at noon. Support for the River Raft Regatta is provided by the Gatlinburg Recreation Department.
Then, just an hour after sundown, the Fourth’s Grand Finale occurs on the streets of downtown Gatlinburg with a fireworks extravaganza visible all along the Parkway from Applebee’s to the Sky Lift starting about 10 p.m. Lasting almost 20 minutes in duration, the sights and sounds of “the rocket’s red glare” will fill the sky as a fitting tribute to this day of celebrating freedom.
If you are still looking for a cabin to rent for 4th of July weekend… for just the two of you or the whole family, ERA In The Smokies has a handful of cabins still available–including great views of the fireworks from cabins at Winfield Heights like Great Escape and Southern Comfort. We still have a couple of one bedroom cabins available. Dogwood is close to downtown Gatlinburg, and Dancing Bear is off the spur between Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge.
This blog is sponsored by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg. For more info. on a Gatlinburg Cabin for your Smoky Mountain Vacation or all the reasons to move to the Smokies, call 1-800-309-0277. ERA In The Smokies is a leader in chalet and Log Cabin Rentals and Real Estate Sales in the Gatlinburg area.