Special Events

Spring Flowers: Where to find them and What’s Blooming

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See wildflowers like this when you visit Gatlinburg!

While many people look forward to their summer vacation every year, Gatlinburg invites you to get away from it all early. Think Spring and come to Gatlinburg now for a wildflower show you’ll never forget! In Great Smoky Mountains National Park alone there are over 1500 different species of flowering plants. Couple that treasure trove of stunning blooms with the Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage held by the Great Smoky Mountain Association and you can immerse yourself in a spring flora extravaganza the likes of which you’ll not find anywhere else in the country.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s abundance of wildflowers has earned it the nickname ‘Wildflower National Park,’ as it offers visitors more wildflowers than in any other national park in the United States. Visit the park in mid-April to enjoy a diversity of flowers in the lower elevations and then trek to higher elevations later in the month to enjoy the wildflowers spread throughout the park’s upper regions.

What’s Blooming in April and Where to See Them

Visitors to Great Smoky Mountains National Park will see columbine, bleeding heart, ten different types of trillium, lady slipper orchids, showy orchids, crested dwarf iris, fire pink, phacelia, violets, jack-in-the-pulpit, little brown jugs and many more flower varieties. Visit this page on the park’s website for recommended wildflower walks.

The Great Smoky Mountain Association’s 63rd Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage is your chance to enjoy the park’s abundance of wildflowers while you participate in any of 150 programs and classes. The Wildflower Pilgrimage will be held at W.L. Mills Conference Center, 303 Reagan Drive, & various venues throughout the area.

Botanists, hobby gardeners and people who love nature hikes all are welcome. Visitors will enjoy guided hiking tours, instructional walks, guest lecturers and demonstrations. While wildflowers are a major focus, plants, trees, shrubs, mosses and ferns native to the area will also be highlighted, as will native birds, amphibians and reptiles.

Most programs will take place outdoors, but several classroom sessions and evening entertainment activities will be held in W.L. Mills Conference Center downtown to round out the week.

For more information please call 865-436-7318; Toll Free: 800-568-4178, or visit

www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org/ for the 2013 activity brochure.

What are your favorite Smoky Mountain wildflowers? Discuss your thoughts with us in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter @travelgburg, or on Google +!

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Join us for Earth Week in Gatlinburg

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Celebrate Earth Week with us in Gatlinburg!

Over 40 years ago the first Earth Day commemorative activities were held. That first Earth Day is remembered as one of the catalysts that started the green movement across the world. Today Earth Week festivities and educational programs help people learn more about how to protect the environment. Come celebrate Earth Week in Gatlinburg! Spring in Gatlinburg offers you a unique opportunity to enjoy the wonders of nature while participating in activities and programs to help the environment!

Attend a Go Green Seminar, Help in the Spur Clean-up,  Go to the Wildflower Pilgrimage, Run in the Earth Day 5K, Play in the Disc Golf Tournament,  and bring the entire family to the Earth Day Festival. You’ll learn about easy green practices while you enjoy music, food, activities, games, craft stations, and more!

Go Green Disc Golf Tournament

Sunday, April 21

Mills Park. Registration begins at 12:30 pm.  Awards ceremony at 4:00 pm. Registration will be on-site. $20, $15 for children (13 & under).

Gatlinburg Goes Green Breakfast Seminar

Monday, April 22

Please call the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau for more information: Local Phone: (865) 436-4178 Toll Free: 800-588-1817

Spur Clean Up

Tuesday, April 23

The Spur Clean Up on Tuesday, April 23 offers participants an opportunity to help beautify The Spur, a stretch of the National Park between Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge.  This event is a partnership between Earth Week and Keep Sevier Beautiful to pick up trash along this route. To participate, bring a pair of gloves and meet at Gatlinburg’s Spur Welcome Center at 9:00 am.

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

April 23-27

The Great Smoky Mountain Association hosts the 63rd Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage.  150 programs including instructional walks and tours, demonstrations and guest lectures await you.  To download the 2013 activity brochure and register online, visit http://www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org

Wildflower Pilgrimage Welcome Luncheon

Wednesday, April 24

Presented by the Gatlinburg Garden Club featuring “Cherokee Plant Lore,” with Ila Hatter

W.L. Mills Conference Center $25 per person

For tickets & information, Call  Pat Willoughby 865-397-7355 or Juanita King 865-453-6101 ext 481 or cell 865-654-4393.

Earth Day Festival

3:00 – 7:00 pm, Thursday, April 25 at Mynatt Park.

Bring the family for free crafts and activities, educational displays, food and live entertainment by Boogertown Gap and Tuatha Dea.

Shred Day 

Friday, April 26

Anna Porter Library in Gatlinburg 10:00 am – 3:00 pm

Earth Day 5K Run/Walk in downtown Gatlinburg

Friday, April 26, 2013 at 10:00pm.

The Second Annual Earth Day 5K Run/Walk in downtown Gatlinburg is a night race. Runners and walkers of all ages are welcome to participate in this USA Track and Field sanctioned event.  Guarantee your shirt size with early registration. Race night registration begins at 9:00pm at Nantahala Outdoor Center. Race starts at 10:00 pm.

Race Cost:

Student/Youth: $15

Advanced (before April 12): $20

Regular (April 13-25): $25

Day-of: $30

For more information please contact Jennifer Burke at the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau (865) 436-0505; Toll Free: 1-800-588-1817; or email jennifer@gatlinburg.com or visit:

www.imathlete.com/events/EarthDay5KGatlinburgTN?z=1363006292183

Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Winefest

On Saturday, April 27, 1:00 – 6:00 pm

Sample wines from more than a dozen Tennessee Wineries at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Enjoy small dish fare from the best restaurants in the Smoky Mountains.  Enjoy food pairing demonstrations and wine talks in the beautiful Jules Verne Room. Participants must be at least 21- years old and pay a $20 admission fee.

Discover Life in America Great Smoky Mountains Salamander Ball

April 27, 7-10 pm at Gatlinburg Convention Center

Live music with the Johnson Swingtet

Tickets $75 for adults, $50 for Wildflower Pilgrimage participants, Children 12 & under free

http://www.dlia.org/salamander-ball

Children’s Planting Program

Sunday, April 28, 1:00 pm at Mills Park Pavilion

Children are invited for storytime and seed planting activity. This event is sponsored by Keep Sevier Beautiful.

Want to know more about Earth Week in Gatlinburg? Ask us in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter @travelGburg, or on Google +!

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It’s a Spring Thing

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Gatlinburg is the place to be this spring. Be sure to join us!

Winter is a glorious season that attracts thousands of visitors to Gatlinburg. When the snow’s grip on the high country gives way to spring, we literally rejoice at the signs of life everywhere. Come share our salute to the new season by discovering the culture, beauty and tradition Gatlinburg offers throughout April. ‘It’s a Spring Thing’ is our theme, and it permeates every event this month and throughout the subsequent weeks as well. Join us as we celebrate Smoky Mountain SpringFest (March 12, 2013 – June 2, 2013) with a full schedule of indoor and outdoor attractions:

Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales

April 5, 2013 – August 10, 2013

Performers entertain passersby throughout the summer, beginning in April. They share themed presentations from as far back as the 1800s. The richness of storytelling, musical entertainment and artistry lend a picturesque charm to the streets of Gatlinburg.
14th Annual Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament

April 6, 2013 – April 7, 2013

Kids and adults alike enjoy a challenge at the annual Smoky Mountain Trout Tournament. For fourteen years locals and visitors have battled for trophy trout in multiple categories. For information, call 865-661-3474 or email rockytopoutfit@aol.com.

Gatlinburg Gateway Triathlon

April 13, 2013 – April 13, 2013

If you’re 15 years or older and can bike, swim and run, try your hand at the 7th Annual Triathlon. This event pits entrants versus other competitors and each person against him or herself with the challenge of swimming one-half mile, biking twenty kilometers, and running five kilometers consecutively. Awards will be given in men’s and women’s divisions (multiple age categories), plus a mixed team relay event. The triathlon at the Community Center starts at 8:30 a.m. Pre-registration is required. Call (865) 436-4990 to find out more. Admission: Entry Fee

Smoky Mountain MABC Regional Bridge Tournament

April 15, 2013 – April 21, 2013

The Smoky Mountain Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference Regional is the largest regional bridge tournament in the United States. This large tournament of the Mid-Atlantic Bridge Conference will be held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center. Players from around the U.S. and around the world participate in this annual event. Thousands of players will compete from 9 a.m. until 2 a.m. each day. Contact (800) 568-4748 or visit http://www.gatlinburgregional.org/ for more information.

Food Ministry Fiesta

April 18, 2013 – April 18, 2013

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies hosts the third annual Food Ministry Fiesta at 6 p.m. The event benefits Sevier County Food Ministries and one hundred percent of the proceeds go towards their outreach programs and special projects. Entertainment and refreshments included. For ticket information, call 865-428-5182.

Mountain Man Memorial March

April 20, 2013

The Sixth Annual Mountain Man Memorial March is a 26.2-mile march in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee which will be conducted Saturday, April 20 in Gatlinburg as a tribute to our men and women in uniform. Initially held to honor local fallen hero Tennessee Army ROTC Cadet – 1LT Frank Walkup who was killed in action in Iraq, the event has grown to honor many other heroes who gave their lives unselfishly in the course of serving their country.

Today more than 20 ROTC units, active duty military, reserve and guard units, veterans of all services, family & friends of the fallen, JROTC units, and even Cub Scout Packs participate in this unique event that celebrates service and recognizes sacrifice. Runners and marchers representing the military and civilians participate in marathon and march activities, individually and as teams. Everyone covers the 26.2 mile course that goes through downtown Gatlinburg and then winds its way along Highway 321 and then into the beautiful Smoky Mountains. The run/march portion of the MMMM begins at 9:00 am on Saturday, 20 April 2013, in Gatlinburg.

For more information call (865) 974-5371 or visit www.mountainmanmemorialmarch.com.

Earth Week

April 21, 2013 – April 27, 2013

Spring gives us signs of life, and Earth Week in Gatlinburg teaches us how to leave the world a better place. Bring the entire family to Gatlinburg to learn about easy green practices, enjoy music, activities and games, food, crafts and more! Enjoy the Gatlinburg Goes Green Breakfast Seminar, play disc golf, help pick up trash along a stretch of the National Park and participate in many more green activities.

For a full listing of Earth Week activities please visit: http://www.gatlinburg.com/events/details.aspx?id=111

Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

April 23, 2013 – April 27, 2013

As winter fades and the colors of spring begin to sparkle throughout the Smokies, Gatlinburg blossoms into the center of all things botanical during the Great Smoky Mountain Association’s 63rd Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage. The Wildflower Pilgrimage will be held at W.L. Mills Conference Center, 303 Reagan Drive, & various venues throughout the area.

The Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage offers over 150 programs. Participants range from botanists to hobby gardeners. Visitors can take advantage of guided hiking tours and instructional walks, guest lecturers and demonstrations. Flowers, plants, trees, shrubs, mosses and ferns native to the area will be highlighted, as will native birds, amphibians and reptiles.

Most classes take place outdoors, but several classroom sessions and evening entertainment activities are held in W.L. Mills Conference Center downtown to round out the week.

For more information please call 865-436-7318; Toll Free: 800-568-4178, or visit www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org/ for the 2013 activity brochure.

Earth Day 5K

April 26, 2013

Earth Day 5K Run/Walk in beautiful Gatlinburg. Funds raised will benefit the Chamber Foundation’s initiatives in education and our green program. Begins and Ends at NOC Gatlinburg, 1138 Parkway

For more information please contact Jennifer Burke at the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau (865) 436-0505; Toll Free: 1-800-588-1817; or email jennifer@gatlinburg.com or visit:

www.imathlete.com/events/EarthDay5KGatlinburgTN?z=1363006292183

Race night registration begins at 9:00pm at Nantahala Outdoor Center. Race starts at 10:00 pm.

Race Cost:

Student/Youth: $15

Advanced (before April 12): $20

Regular (April 13-25): $25

Day-of: $30

Awards will be given for best overall male and female in each category, and the overall group winner. Age categories: 12 & under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, and 50 and over.

Gatlinburg Smoky Mountain Winefest

April 27, 2013

1 pm to 6 pm – On the Plaza at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Sample wines from Tennessee wineries and enjoy dishes from some of the best restaurants in the Smoky Mountains. Enjoy food pairing demonstrations and wine talks in the beautiful Jules Verne Room. Participants must be at least 21 years old and pay a $20 admission fee.

Need more info on spring events in Gatlinburg? Ask us in the comments, on Facebook, on Twitter @travelgburg, or on Google +!

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Explore Gatlinburg’s Winter Wonderland this Holiday Season

Winter wonderland.  Think about it for a moment. What comes to mind?  Most people form their perception of what a winter wonderland looks like from a song written in 1934 by Felix Bernard called “Winter Wonderland.”  The song has been played in every shopping mall, performed at all the parades, and christened the hallways of homes for nearly 90 years, thus becoming synonymous with the season.

“Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,

In the lane, snow is glistening

A beautiful sight,

We’re happy tonight.

Walking in a winter wonderland.”

Gatlinburg has the unique features that make this song come alive.  Sleigh bells accent the mountains giving them a voice, snowmen adorn the yards around town, and the birds will always sing you a love song.

Experience the Winter Magic in Gatlinburg

WinteGatlinburg, Tennessee, Gatlinburg, TN, Winter Magic, Winter Wonderlandr in Gatlinburg is a magical time for so many reasons. The lights! Oh the lights fill up the night sky to make every view one you won’t forget.  Take a journey on the Trolley Ride of Lights to experience Gatlinburg’s stunning light displays.  Do you like to listen to classic carols?  At any time, you could be sitting at a fabulous restaurant in Gatlinburg and hear the beautiful sounds of our local carolers.  The carolers travel from restaurant to restaurant and mix it up all over town.  Do you like winter sports? You can definitely find those in Gatlinburg as well.  Ober Gatlinburg is one of the premier resorts in town. They offer an Aerial Tram ride, ice skating, snow tubing and nine slopes to carve!

The Trolley Ride of Lights

WM Streetlights 4 copyThis adventure often gets booked up quick, so call ahead and reserve as soon as you know you’ll be in town!  The Trolley Ride of Lights will take you to see “displays that are indigenous to Great Smoky Mountains National Park including deer, foxes, squirrels and rabbits.” Everyone loves the bears, and if you’re always searching for one while you’re in town, not to worry! We have some bears that are lit up too.

Winter in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The park is a very special place around the holidays, and the park workers care about visitors’ safety. Before you head to the park over the holidays, there are a few things to keep in mind. In the lower elevations around 1700’, the same elevation as Gatlinburg’s downtown area, the average snowfall is minimal.  Snowfalls of about 1-2” will happen about 5-10 times a year, which leaves a nice dusting to play in. In the higher elevations of 2500’ and above, snowfall steadily increases.  To find out more information, visit this link to the National Park Service page: “When Will it Snow?” Also, here are two great links to watch the webcams at Look Rock and Purchase Knob!

Are you coming to Gatlinburg for the holidays? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter (@travelgburg), or in the comments section! See you soon!

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Gatlinburg’s Iconic Winter Magic Festival Lights up the Night Skies

Gatlinburg Winter Magic, Winterfest, Gatlinburg On November 7th, Gatlinburg’s Winter Magic captured the spirit of the holiday season with millions of lights and stunning light displays. Every evening, Gatlinburg will be transformed into a winter wonderland, and visitors will be able to enjoy the festive feel and atmosphere of the brilliant LED lights glittering through town. If you love the holiday season, there’s no better time to visit Gatlinburg than when Winter Magic is in full swing. From November 7th, 2012 to February 28th, 2013, Gatlinburg streets will be lined with spectacular lights and brilliant light displays that capture the true essence of the holiday season.

Winter Magic is an Environmentally Friendly Event in Gatlinburg

Gatlinburg is committed to conservation and sustainability, and one of Gatlinburg’s many green efforts has been the transition from 500-watt incandescent bulbs to LED (light emitting diode) bulbs to conserve electricity during Winter Magic. The festival has been 100% converted from incandescent to LED lights, which has resulted in a more environmentally friendly festival and more brilliant colors. Gatlinburg’s Winter Magic displays can now be run for a full 120 days on the electricity that it previously took to light up the area for 3 days.

Get into the Holiday Spirit in Gatlinburg

Hundreds of thousands of visitors travel to Gatlinburg each year to enjoy the beautiful Winter Magic in Gatlinburg. When the lights go up and the snow starts to fall, the holiday season comes to life in Gatlinburg. Each year, the City commemorates past traditions and creates new holiday traditions that will be shared for generations.  This year, come join us for Winter Magic, the Trolley Ride of Lights, and our many other wonderful holiday-inspired events!

Winter Magic is fun for people of all ages. From the little ones with their eyes full of wonder at the many beautiful shining lights to people that can remember those timeless lighting displays from visits to Gatlinburg in their youth, the Winter Magic festival gives visitors the ability to enjoy Gatlinburg’s majestic mountains in a whole new way.

Take a Guided Tour of Winter Magic on the Trolley Ride of Lights

Visitors can also enjoy the lights in Gatlinburg by taking a ride on the trolley this season. The Trolley Ride of Lights will take you through the area on a 40-45 minute guided tour so that you can catch a glimpse of all of the beautiful light displays in Gatlinburg and hear the stories behind them.

Winter Magic kicked off on November 7th, and will run for 120 days. For more details on Winter Magic and all of Gatlinburg’s holiday events, visit Gatlinburg’s Events Page.

What’s your favorite place to look at the lights in Gatlinburg? Let us know in the comments section, on Facebook, or on Twitter

 

 

 

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How to Create a Beautiful Fall Harvest Display for Your Yard

Fall Harvest Display in GatlinburgAs fall season comes into full swing, many people are decorating their yards with harvest themed displays.   Here are some helpful tips that will hopefully inspire you to create something amazing!

The Little Things

Before you do anything else, collect all the supplies you’ll need to create your harvest display and get organized. This will be key to a smooth process and a great outcome!  The first step is determining what you are going to use to decorate your house.  Pumpkins, mini-pumpkins, gourds, squash, grape vines, berries, a couple baskets, pinecones, Indian corn and plant foliage are all the traditional items.  A large uncarved pumpkin will generally last most of the fall season, but if you want to make sure that it does, just add a coat of polyurethane to it. Then you’re sure to have a gleaming orange pumpkin all season long.

A single pumpkin placed on a small outdoor table will be where you want to start.  Scattering fall leaves on the table is a nice way to give it that added festive feel.  Next, take your basket and fill it roughly half full with the same fall foliage used on the table.  Strategically place a few pinecones and Indian corn inside the basket to give it texture and character.  Lastly, drape your grape vines around the table and stack several mini-pumpkins, gourds or squash around it to give it added depth.

Fall Decorations The extra mini-pumpkins or squash make excellent candleholders.  Cut the tops of the pumpkins or squash, take a spoon to clean out the centers and place your candle or votive inside.  These usually turn out really cute and add the perfect touch to the rest of your display.

Centerpieces

This is the drive-by eye catcher, so you definitely want to do this right.  Simplicity along with a few creative touches is always best.  You will need to purchase several hay squares, plenty of corn stalk, definitely a large pumpkin or two, some orange ribbon, more grape vine, a couple fake crows and one or two scarecrows.

Find a spot that is both easily visible to the street and easy to work with as well.  Arrange the hay squares to fill the spot comfortably so that your display doesn’t look crowded.  Next, arrange the scarecrows.  You can give them a casual look by propping them up so that they look like they’re leaning against the hay talking. You can also have one sitting and the other one standing, or maybe do one that fits the theme of your family!  Once you have the scarecrows situated, just work in a few pumpkins, the crows, some ribbon and grape vine to give the display that last bit of spice.

Final TouchesSmoky Mountain Harvest Festival in Gatlinburg

Decorating the mailbox!  This is a simple one but can pull your whole yard together nicely.  Tie together two corn stalks with thick twine on each side of the mailbox.  Use the extra orange ribbon you have from your centerpiece to cover the twine.  This will give it that much needed color splash.  Place a large pumpkin on both sides of the mailbox in front of the corn stalks.  This hides the bottom of the corn stalks to give your display a more natural look.

Remember, just be you and let that show in your creative design.  When you are finished, take a step back and appreciate your hard work!

Gatlinburg is hosting its annual Smoky Mountain Harvest Festival through the end of October. During the Harvest Festival, Gatlinburg patrons adorn their shops, restaurants, and hotels with festive fall decorations to celebrate autumn in the Smokies.  Join us this season for another spectacular display of fall decorations in Gatlinburg!

Show us your fall harvest creations on Facebook and Twitter, or share your decorating tips with us in the comments section! 

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Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales, Free Parkway Trolley Roll On

Summertime is a great time to visit Gatlinburg, especially since visitors can enjoy both Smoky Mountain Tunes & Tales and the Free Parkway Trolley. And the price is right as well!

Tunes & Tales, Gatlinburg’s street entertainment program, is in its seventh year of providing live performances on the Parkway every evening from 6 to 11 p.m. through August 11.

Whether listening to music, watching arts & crafts demonstrations or marveling at the cloggers, these live performances are fun for all ages. Watch as costumed musical performers, storytellers and artisans portraying characters from time periods as far back as 1800 transform the sidewalk into a stage.

The Free Parkway Trolley program is operating every day from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. between Lights #1 and #10.

The free specially painted open air shuttles pick up visitors at any of 40-plus stops on the Parkway. These trolleys are handicap- accessible and very popular as our guests explore new areas of town. The program continues through August 18.

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100th Army Band To Perform Free Concerts On July 4

Back by popular demand, the 100th Army Band from Fort Knox, Ky., will not only lead the 37th annual Gatlinburg Fourth of July Midnight Parade, but will also showcase various sectional groups in free concerts on Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Plaza throughout the day of July 4, culminating in a full Band concert at 8:30 p.m. which ushers in Gatlinburg’s spectacular fireworks display at approximately 10 p.m.

Soldiers first, musicians second, the 100th Army Band has traveled the world to present its high- quality professional musical entertainment. The Band includes several combo components – a jazz band, brass quartet, rock band, and more. Each member of the Band receives the same combative training and is expected to have the same military abilities demonstrated by other Army personnel.

Each of the Band’s July 4 performances at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Plaza will be free- admission.

Also performing on the Plaza during July 4 festivities will be the Burlington Teen Tour Band from Burlington, Ontario, Canada at 7 p.m.

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The latest news on the July 4th Midnight Parade: Tuskegee Airmen Will Serve As Grand Marshals

The 37the annual Gatlinburg Fourth of July Midnight Parade will honor American heroes, with grand marshals for the parade including members of the Tuskegee Airman Association from Atlanta, Ga. and from Louisville, Ky., plus military personnel and veterans from all five branches of service.

Among the U.S. Heroes being honored will be Robert Youngdeer and Rueben Taylor, two distinguished World War II veterans from Cherokee, N.C. Both Cherokee Warriors permanently reside on the Cherokee Reservation and are still active in Steve Youngdeer American Legion Post 143.

As many as 100,000 spectators are expected to witness the parade, which since 1976 is renowned as the first Independence Day Parade in the United States. Dozens of parade units will line up on the night of July 3 and step off at the stroke of midnight.

Leading the parade will be the 100th Army Band from Fort Knox, Ky., which will not only march in the parade, but will also showcase various sectional groups in concerts on the plaza at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies throughout the day of July 4, culminating in a full band concert leading into Gatlinburg’s spectacular fireworks display.

Soldiers first, musicians second, the 100th Army Band has traveled the world to present its high-quality professional musical entertainment. The band includes several combo components – a jazz band, brass quartet, rock band, and more. Each member of the band receives the same combative training and is expected to have the same military abilities demonstrated by other Army personnel.

Each of the band’s July 4th performances at the Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza will be free-admission. Also performing on the Plaza during July 4 festivities will be the Burlington Teen Tour Band from Burlington, Ontario, Canada.

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.”

This year’s fun-filled Fourth of July celebration in Gatlinburg will again feature the always-competitive River Raft Regatta, the unmanned kind. Anything floatable can be entered, with registration starting at 10 a.m. at the Christ in the Smokies bridge on River

Road. 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. This unique race begins at noon on July 4th.

A spectacular fireworks display will begin at 10 p.m. – following the 100th Army Band concert – and will be visible throughout the downtown area.

Visit http://www.gatlinburg.com/events for more information

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