News Column

Fourth of July festivities: Parties ready to pop across East Tennessee

June 28, 2013

YellowBrix

June 28--This year the Fourth of July falls on a Thursday. Now's the time to begin planning for fireworks, music, parades, good food and gunpowder-packed anvils.

Let's begin with the City of Knoxville's annual Festival on the Fourth at World's Fair Park. The festivities start at 4 p.m. July 4; the event-ending fireworks go from 9:35 to 10 p.m.

A few rules for the festival. Pets, alcohol, tents or tent canopies aren't allowed. A children's play area with free rides and activities is open until 8 p.m. Members of the Knoxville Police and Knoxville Fire departments compete in a tug-of-war at 5 p.m.

WDVX's Freddy Smith and his "Patriotic Chicken," musician Sean McCollough and the Kidstuff Band will perform at 4 p.m. Todd Steed and the Suns of Phere follow at 5:15; the Dale Ann Bradley Band at 6:30.

At 8 p.m. the Knoxville Symphony directed by Maestro Lucas Richman perform the 29th Annual Pilot Flying J Free Independence Day Concert. The free concert has a superhero theme with a tribute to "Superman" films plus lots of patriotic songs. Concertgoers are invited to bring lawn chairs or blankets.

Days before July 4, the City of Knoxville gets in the patriotic spirit early with its June 27 Patriotic Bike Parade. Participants in a decorated bike contest meet at Market Square at 5:30 p.m. to register and have decorated bikes judged. (Registration forms are at on-site or at www.cityofknoxville.org/events/4th/parade.pdf.) Prizes will be given for the best looking bikes in family, adult, teen, children ages 7-12 and children age 6 and younger categories.

The bike parade through downtown starts at 6:30 p.m.; those who want to ride without participating in the bike contest can be there at 6 p.m. After the ride, there's live music and children's entertainment 7-9 p.m.

One of the good things about the patriotic events in East Tennessee is that, with some planning, red, white and blue enthusiasts can participate in several activities on July 4 or even celebrate over a span of days. Here are some of the events going on in East Tennessee that can help in the planning:

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Celebrate America's birthday at midnight July 4. The City of Gatlinburg hosts the first -- as in the earliest -- Independence Day Parade in the country as July 3 rolls into July 4. The midnight July 4 parade's route of about one mile starts at traffic light 1A on Gatlinburg's East Parkway, turns south at light number three before and then goes to light number 10 at Ski Mountain Road.

More than 100 floats, marching bands, equestrians and large balloons are part of the parade. Grand marshals are women veterans represented by Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and members of the Women Veterans of America Chapter 20 from Nashville. The 572nd Air Force Band as well as members of the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard will participate in the parade.

Gatlinburg's Fourth of July festivities continue at noon with the annual River Raft Regatta, The regatta is an unmanned race of "floatables" that starts at the Christ in the Smokies bridge on River Road and ends at the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies bridge. The Air Force Band plays on the aquarium plaza through the afternoon and during the day-ending fireworks that start just after dark from the top of the aquarium parking garage.

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Not everyone can say he saw an anvil fly into the sky for America's birthday. But that's part of the 10 a.m. -3 p.m. July 4 celebrations at the Museum of Appalachia near Norris. The museum will shoot the 175-pound anvil filled with gunpowder into the Norris sky at 11 a.m., noon and 1:30 p.m. July 4. The event also incorporates a flag waving procession and Appalachian music. A 2 p.m. bell-ringing ceremony is part of a national event where more than 10,000 bells are rung in unison across America. At the museum 13 young people, representing the original 12 colonies, will be picked to ring the bell. The museum is off Interstate 75's Exit 122. Fourth of July admission is $20 for adults, $10 for ages 12-17, $6 for ages 5-12 or a $50 family charge for two adults and two children ages 5-12.

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The Town of Farragut's 26th Annual Independence Day Parade starts at 9:30 a.m. July 4. The route goes from Kingston Pike at the Farragut High School entrance to Boring Road. During the parade Kingston Pike is closed 8:30 a.m.-noon from Boring to Concord roads.

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Pigeon Forge hosts its annual Patriot Festival at Patriot Park July 4. There's free admission. A play area for children and food vendors open at noon; music starts at 1:30 p.m. Performers include the Pigeon Forge Community Chorus and the gospel music Shelby Huskey Band. Country music stars Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers headline the music at 8:30 p.m.; ending fireworks start at 9:45.

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The Oak Ridge Community Band Independence Day Concert's is 7:30 p.m. July 4 at A.K. Bissell Park, 1403 Oak Ridge Turnpike in Oak Ridge. The concert is free. Participants are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets. The program includes patriotic tunes, a Benny Goodman tribute, some ragtime, Broadway tunes, jazz and marches.

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A musical salute to the East Tennessee Veterans Honor Guard is 3-5 p.m. July 4 at Music Row of Maryville, 2808 East Lamar Alexander Parkway. Honor guard members are guests at the public benefit concert by Knoxville Songwriters Association members and other area musicians. Donations will be accepted for the honor guard. The guard's members provide free graveside services for honorably discharged East Tennessee veterans. WBCR Radio sponsors the musical salute.

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Get the patriotic party started early. The Point Resort along Douglas Lake in Dandridge hosts "Shakin' the Lake" July 3. Phil Williams and the Grits band start the entertainment and music at 5 p.m.; fireworks begin at 10. Parking is $20; the music is free.

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Tellico Village is hosting its Fourth of July celebration 5-9 p.m. July 3 at the village square at the intersection of Tellico Parkway and Chota Road. The event, hosted by Tellico Village service clubs and sponsored by local merchants, includes music, games, rock climbing, a bounce house, face painting, car show and food. Admission is free; food items cost $1 each.

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The Tennessee Riverboat Company, 300 Neyland Drive, offers a Fourth of July two-hour cruise on the Tennessee River with a barbecue dinner and entertainment. Boarding is at 6:30 p.m. July 4; departure at 7. The boat returns to dock at 9 p.m. so participants can watch Knoxville's Festival on the Fourth fireworks from the boat. Cost is $37.95 plus tax at 865-525-7827.

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Morristown's Cherokee Park at 3075 Floyd Hall Drive hosts "Party in the Park" July 4. Gates open at 3 p.m. Music starts at 6 p.m.; headliner Steel Magnolias plays at 8. Fireworks begin at 9:45. Tickets are $5.

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Keep celebrating through the weekend. Lenoir City's Rockin' The Docks starts 4 p.m. July 6 in Lenoir City Park's cove area. Four bands will perform. The event includes children's play area and food. A patriotic tribute at 8 p.m. is followed by fireworks shot from the middle of Fort Loudon Lake.

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Rogersville's Fourth of July Celebration starts July 2 and goes through July 6. Events start with a 6-8 p.m. July 2 art show at the Hale Springs Inn. A 6:30 p.m. July 3 community patriotic prayer service is at Rogersville's downtown square. The Fourth of July parade starts at 4 p.m. July 4 through downtown Rogersville. Other events include music and a 9 p.m. free outdoor showing on Courthouse Annex of the film "Independence Day." On July 5 there's a 5 p.m. car show on Main Street; performances by the Ivy Road Band and a children's playground. There's a charge to play in the playground but other events are free. July 6 ends the celebration with free events at Rogersville City Park. Music and children's activities start at 1 p.m. Country singer Jana Kramer performs at 6:30, the contemporary Christian group The Newsboys at 8:30. Fireworks start at 10.

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Jonesborough waits until the Fourth of July fireworks are over to host "Historic Jonesborough Days" July 5-7. Knoxville native and singer Logan Murrell beings the musical entertainment at 5 p.m. July 5 at the main stage at Courthouse Square; concerts start again at 5 p.m. July 6. Other July 6 events include a 10 a.m. parade, storytelling and more music. Events noon-3:30 p.m. July 7 include music and storytelling. Fireworks at 10 p.m. July 6 are followed by an outdoor showing on Main Street of "Goodbye Miss Fourth of July," a 1988 movie filmed in Jonesborough.

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(c)2013 the Knoxville News-Sentinel (Knoxville, Tenn.)

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