Gatlinburg’s 4th of July parade among top 20 events

Southeastern Tourism Society has selected Gatlinburg’s 4th of July Midnight Parade as a top 20 event for July.

The list is compiled by the Atlanta-based organization, which is dedicated to the promotion and development of tourism to its member states of Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia.
For the 32nd consecutive year, Gatlinburg will kick off America’s Independence Day celebration with the nation’s first parade, which will lead off at midnight on July 4. A tribute to the military and the observance of Gatlinburg’s Bicentennial will be among the highlights.

‘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. “We are very excited about the entire day of events.”

Pre-parade entertainers are followed by giant helium balloons, which include Alphonso the dragon, Humpty Dumpty, and a patriotic Eagle and All-Star Train. More than 100 volunteers help navigate the balloons. More than 100 parade entries are planned.

Red Baron Pizza plans to bring a squadron of Stearman bi-planes to Sevier County in conjunction with the parade.

Gatlinburg’s River Raft Regatta takes place at noon on July 4, beginning at the Christus Gardens bridge on River Road and ending at the Ripley’s Aquarium bridge. This unmanned river raft race 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 takes place between 10:30 a.m. and noon, with the race at noon.

An hour after sundown will come fireworks visible all along the Parkway. The fireworks last almost 20 minutes.

For more information about the parade or River Raft please call 865-568-4748 or visit