What is more patriotic than being the first in the country to celebrate the Fourth of July? Not much!

Each year, Gatlinburg, Tennessee is the site of the first Fourth of July parade in the nation when they start the marching at 12:01 a.m. This massive festival routinely attracts between 80,000 and 100,000 spectators.  A huge collection of floats, helium balloons, marching bands, equestrian entries and groups of men and women representing the armed services parade through the downtown.  Your Fourth of July will be off to a truly epic start.

Over 100 units make up this parade and it stretches over a mile in length.  It is the 44th year Gatlinburg has put on this parade, so they definitely have it down to a science. Each year, the parade is dedicated to our men and women in the armed services.  Military personnel always serve as the parade’s Grand Marshall.

Best of all, this exciting event is free and open to the public!  If you are worried about having a good place to see the parade, don’t!  The parade route is from stoplight #3 to stoplight #10.  Spectators from nearby hotels often start lining up chairs the day before the event for a good viewing spot.

Celebrate in Gatlinburg all day long and be sure to catch the fireworks show at 10 p.m. on July Fourth.

Even nearby Pigeon Forge will be having their own celebrations at The Patriot Festival. No matter where you plan to hang out for the holiday, you and your family are sure to have a great time.

The streets will be shut down by 11 p.m. on July third, so be sure to get in to town earlier rather than later. Traffic could be intense. It may take up to an hour to get out of town, so keep this in mind.  Great street performances and acts start as soon as the street is clear of cars.  To catch it all you want to get there early.

Plan on spending the whole weekend in eastern Tennessee.  Rent one of the many beautiful Gatlinburg cabins for your whole family, and have your own barbecue before you make your way into town for the festivities.  When the parade is over, you can head back to the cabin and crash, avoiding the heavy traffic and staying nearby for the great stuff Gatlinburg promises for the day of the Fourth!

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