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25 Fun Things to Do in Knoxville 4th of July Weekend! >

Gatlinburg Fourth of July Midnight Parade

Date: July 3-4, 2011
Time: 12:00 midnight
Location: On the Parkway, Gatlinburg

The first Independence Day parade in the nation marks its 36th year with a happy birthday wish for the United States of America on July 4 in the foothills of the beautiful Smoky Mountains.

For the 36th 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 Monday, 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.

Catherine Bach, famous for her role as "Daisy Duke" in the hit series "Dukes of Hazzard" will appear in Gatlinburg's 36th annual Fourth of July Midnight Parade, courtesy of Cooter's Place. Rick Hurst, a.k.a. "Cletus," also from the series will be in attendance. An escort of vehicles from Hazzard County including the famous "General Lee" will also be in the parade.

Highlights for this year's Independence Day weekend celebration include a series of performances by the renowned 100th United States Army Band from Fort Knox, Kentucky.

In addition to marching in parade, the 100th US Army Band from Ft. Knox, Kentucky, will feature concerts of different groups on Sunday, July 3, with all performances on 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 be debuting a new attraction, "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds," a modified Delta 88 with a psychedelic design honoring the Beatles. The creation is the work of Houston School System art students under the direction of Rebecca Bass. Myriad references to Beatles lyrics envelope the car's interior, fa├žade, and often poke into the space surrounding the vehicle. 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.

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."

Published June 27, 2011

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