Annual Fourth of July Parade in Downtown Elizabethton
One of the primer events of the summer is the annual July 4th parade. The event is sponsored by the City of Elizabethton and takes place downtown. Each year, several hundred local citizens line the sidewalks of Elk Avenue in anticipation of the blast of the siren which signals the start of the procession. Many youngsters find a seat on the curb and the smaller children take their places atop the shoulders of their dad giving them the best vantage point to see the floats, superheros, war veterans and so much more. The parade is always held in the early afternoon and usually starts around 1:00 p.m.
Participants usually start gathering just before lunch in the parking lot across for Big John's on the west side of downtown. Everything from military equipment to local and state government officials begin to line up for the event. Virtually every vehicle is adorned with American Flags and other red, white and blue decorations. Local Shriners, church groups, veteran's associations and many others prepare for the three block walk to the monument.
Local bands and color guards warm up and run through their routines. 2013 brings the beginning of a new tradition in Elizabethton. The EHS "Betsy" band has begun teaming up with any and all EHS band alumni for the first ever Elizabethton Community Marching Band. A pre-selected musical piece is prepared and practiced by the "Betsy" band. All alumni participants are asked to show up one hour early and the music is handed out. The combined band practices together for the first time in the parking lot and by the time the parade starts, the band is ready to give their usual stellar performance. Other high school bands from Carter County sometimes participate as well as other local musicians.
Frequently area bluegrass bands will enter a float full of East Tennessee talent which will bring a local flavor to the parade. Anything from a doghouse bass, to a mandolin and 5 string banjo will fill the air with music that almost makes it impossible to keep from singing along or at least tapping a foot. The large group pictured above was a hodge podge of local friends and family pickers. As they made their way down the street strumming some bluegrass favorites, they quickly became a local favorite.
Usually there are some late morning festivities before the parade for the crowd to enjoy. Most years showcase a hot dog eating contest, free watermelon, concessions such as snow cones and ice cream, and some years even allow some area wrestlers to show their talents. Along with the festivities, several local and state government officials are in the crowd to answer questions and spend time with the people they represent. State Senators and Representatives make the trip from Nashville to honor the local veterans.
The Parade always stops at the war memorial for a couple of patriotic songs, a 21 gun salute and the playing of taps. After a few reverent moments of remembering the fallen brothers in combat, the celebration continues.
The parade usually lasts about an hour and ends at the Monument. Afterwords the attendees are usually treated to free ice cold bottled water supplied by Chris Mathis and the Carter County Sheriff's department.. The children have usually had their fill of free candy and suckers and are ready for an afternoon nap.
Local city workers begin the laborious task of cleaning the roads and moving the parade's safety barriers. This year a local lady that had just moved to the area with her two young children was overheard saying "I just moved here and we never had anything like this were I used to live. This is really great".
Thanks to all that have served and is currently serving in our military. Without their sacrifices, we would have nothing to celebrate.
A special thanks to our local officials and downtown association for making Carter County Tennessee one of the most desirable places to live in the eastern United States.