People love to come to the Smokies to celebrate Independence Day! Parades, concerts, fireworks, cookouts, hiking, water activities, and more compel people to return for the excitement year after year! Take your pick, or do your best to join in every celebration!
The first Independence Day parade in the nation marks its 37th year with a happy birthday wish for the United States of America on July 4, 2012, in the foothills of the beautiful Smoky Mountains.
For the 37th consecutive year, Gatlinburg kicks off America’s celebration with the nation’s first parade, which leads off in the opening moment of the holiday at 12 a.m. on Wednesday, July 4, to the cheers of close to 100,000 spectators. Members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, and Coast Guard, plus vintage military vehicles, local area public safety agencies, and lots more will appear in the parade.
Check out the parade route early to choose your best observation spot as some of the tens of thousands of spectators will start placing their folding chairs along the route as early as 7 a.m. on July 3.
“This will be one of the most patriotic and colorful midnight parades that the City of Gatlinburg has ever produced,” said 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 two-day festival highlighting our armed services.”
All this and much more will be featured in the parade! For more information about the 37th Annual 4th of July Midnight Parade, please call 800-56-VISIT (568-4748).
4th of July River Raft Regatta- Gatlinburg
If you don’t stay up too late for the parade, or perhaps if you just stay up all night, you can take your kids (or the young at heart) to join in the festivities at the river raft regatta. Kids may register to enter anything floatable in the regatta thats registration will begin at 10 am at the Christ in the Smokies bridge on River Road beneath the chair lift. Actual Regatta is expected to start at noon, with registration beginning at ten a.m . “There will be prizes for the top three places in these divisions: Hand-made Decorated, Floatable Object (no creativity), Small Entry (pill bottle sized), Oldest Entry, Youngest Entry, Judges Choice (or most unique), Ripley’s Believe It or Not Entry. Trophies will be supplied by the Gatlinburg Recreation Department.” During registration there will also be tons of games available on the lawn. Come on down!
“Stand Here” Fireworks Finale- Gatlinburg
You’ll probably need a nap in the afternoon, but make sure you wake up in time to see the fireworks finale which takes place at ten p.m. This has been designated a Top 20 event by Southeast Tourism Society! The best way, in my opinion, to enjoy the parade is from the comfort of your own cabin. Granted, there is something to be said for the excitement of being down on the street. However, I prefer the more comfortable, laid back atmosphere of a cabin with a view of downtown. Share drinks and h’ordeuvres (snacks!) with that special someone or maybe a small group of friends as you relax and enjoy the fireworks from the decks of your own Smoky Mountain cabin! ERA in the Smokies has cabin rentals available with a perfect view of the fireworks. Call and reserve soon before they’re gone!
Patriot Festival- Pigeon Forge
Celebrate America’s independence during the annual Patriot Festival in Pigeon Forge on July 4th at Patriot Park! Festivities will begin at noon and end at 10:00 pm. Come enjoy a day filled with food, games, entertainment, fireworks and plenty of fun for the entire family.
This day of entertainment will be capped off by a spectacular fireworks display, set against a beautiful Smoky Mountain backdrop. Parking will be at the Municipal Parking lot on Teaster Lane, where Pigeon Forge Trolleys will shuttle visitors to and from Patriot Park
This year’s featured entertainers include country artist John Anderson, whose hits include “Swingin’” and “I’m Just An Old Chunk Of Coal,” and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members The Lovin’ Spoonful, famous for tunes like “Summer In The City” and “Nashville Cats.” The Pigeon Forge Patriot Festival lineup also includes country newcomer Chris Janson!
Parking, trolleys and admission to Patriot Festival are all free! So grab your blankets, lawn chairs and sunscreen and join the celebration. No umbrellas, please. For more information about Patriot Festival, call the Pigeon Forge Office of Special Events at (865) 429-7350.
This blog is sponsored in part by ERA In The Smokies Realty and Rentals located at 207 Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN. For more information 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.