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Sevier County prepares for busy July 4th weekend

Knoxville WVLT-TV logo Knoxville WVLT-TV 7/1/2022 Kyle Grainger
Gatlinburg’s annual Fourth of July parade returns Saturday at midnight, making it the first Independence Day celebration in the nation. © Provided by Knoxville WVLT-TV Gatlinburg’s annual Fourth of July parade returns Saturday at midnight, making it the first Independence Day celebration in the nation.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (WVLT) - The traffic is rolling into Sevier County for the July 4th weekend with hotels and cabins near capacity.

The Independence Day weekend steps off in Gatlinburg at 12:01 a.m. with the First in the Nation 4th of July Parade and will end with fireworks on the 4th of July.

The trick to seeing this parade is to arrive early, according to Gatlinburg officials. Parkway traffic will start to be shut down at 6:45 p.m.

“Definitely come early if you want to come early on July 3, a lot of people usually will set up their chairs usually along the parkway along the sidewalks. A lot of people usually set up even like starting today or the day after. So really get here early,” said Marisa Rios, Gatlinburg spokesperson.

It all picks back up the next day with the River Raft Regata where decorated boats with patriotic themes will float down the river as they race to the finish line.

There are more events throughout the day and evening with music and fireworks.

“Then the race will start at 1 p.m., and it’ll end all the way at Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza. And you know, obviously, you’ll get trophies for whoever is most creative. Whoever gets first and a lot of people get super creative with their little rafts that they they make,” said Rios.

Over in Pigeon Forge, Monday evening country music superstar Josh Turner takes the stage for this year’s Patriot Festival with fireworks simulcast to music over WIVK radio to celebrate the 4th of July.

“Oh, looking forward to it. And like say, I’m gonna be amongst friends and we’re gonna have a great July 4 experience,” said Turner.

Event Schedule

4:00 pm Welcome / Veterans Tribute

4:15 pm Pigeon Forge Community Chorus Patriotic Salute

5:20 pm Liquid Velvet, classic/progressive rock cover band

6:45 pm Swamp River Revival, Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band

8:30 pm Josh Turner, Grammy-nominated American country and gospel singer

9:50 pm Fireworks grand finale

City of Pigeon Forge

“We’ll have our spectacular firework show happening at 11 p.m. and that’ll be off from the space needle and also the convention center. And so wherever you stand through Gatlinburg, you’ll be able to see it it’s going to be huge. There’s going to be music, it’s going to be awesome,” said Rios.

All traffic in Gatlinburg will be stopped at 11:15 p.m. on Sunday and will start to reopen once the parade is completed.

This is the 47th year Gatlinburg has hosted the July 4th midnight parade.

The Parade steps off at 12:01 a.m. on Monday, July 4 at the intersection of US Highway 321/East Parkway and Baskins Creek Bypass. The route proceeds southbound onto Highway 441/Parkway at Traffic Light No. 3 and concludes at Traffic Light No. 10 at the intersection of Highway 441/Parkway and Ski Mountain Road.

In preparation for the parade, the Gatlinburg Police Department will close two southbound lanes of Highway 321/East Parkway from Food City to Little House of Pancakes at 6:45 p.m. on Sunday, July 3.

Immediately prior to the parade, all traffic on Highway 321/East Parkway, northbound and southbound, will be stopped at 11:25 p.m. until the parade passes. Additionally, all northbound traffic on Highway 441 will be re-routed from the National Park to the Gatlinburg Bypass at 11:15 p.m.

City of Gatlinburg

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