If you will be in the Smoky Mountains in early July, don’t miss the 36thAnnual First Independence Day Parade in the Nation! In Gatlinburg, TN there will be a huge July 4th parade at 12am. There will be over 100,000 viewers at the parade, and many members of the US Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and the Coast Guard will participate this year. There will be military vehicles and bands participating, including the 100th United States Army Band from Fort Knox, Kentucky.
Catherine Bach, better known as “Daisy Duke” of “Dukes of Hazzard” will appear in the Midnight Parade, as well as Rick Hurst, better known as “Cletus” from the same series. There will be vehicles from Hazzard County, including the “General Lee”.
The 100th US Army Band from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, will feature concerts on Sunday, July 3, with all performances at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Plaza. The Sunday lineup will include the Dixieland Band at 10 a.m., the Brass Quintet at noon, the Jazz Ensemble at 2 and the Rock Band at 4. On Monday, July 4, the entire 100th Army Concert Band will perform on the Plaza beginning at 8:30 p.m. before the Independence Day fireworks finale at 10 p.m.
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians will be paying tribute to two deceased tribal veterans with their entry: Medal of Honor Recipient Charles George and Bronze Star Recipient Reuben Taylor. George threw himself on a hand grenade in the Korean War to save his fellow soldiers and Taylor fought in World War II battles including the “Battle of the Bulge” and the invasion of Holland known as “Operation Market Garden.”
Ripley’s Entertainment will have a new attraction, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” a modified Delta 88 with a psychedelic design honoring the Beatles Viewers can spot such manifestations from Beatles’ lyrics such as “Marmalade Skies,” “I am the walrus, I am the egg man,” and “Mother Superior jumping the gun.” The car came from Ripley’s Believe It or Not in Orlando, Florida.
“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.”
Check out the parade route early to choose your viewing spot, because many of the spectators will start arriving with their chairs along the parade route as early as 7 a.m. on July 3.