Gatlinburg celebrates with the 46th Annual Gatlinburg Midnight Parade, the “First Independence Day Parade in the Nation” with American Idol contestant, EmiSunshine as Grand Marshal. 

EmiSunshineGatlinburg, TENN. (June 7, 2021) - The nation's “first” celebration and Gatlinburg’s award-winning Fourth of July Midnight Parade, will step off at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, July 4, honoring First Responders, U.S. Veterans, military heroes, and frontline healthcare workers. Parade-goers can enjoy a celebration of red, white, and blue as patriotically decorated and lighted floats line downtown streets and the 100th Army Band from Fort Knox, Kentucky commemorates the holiday with a musical performance.

American Idol contestant, EmiSunshine will lead the festivities as the official Grand Marshal of Gatlinburg’s annual parade. An East Tennessee native, EmiSunshine’s unique musical talent has been featured everywhere from the Grand Ole Opry, a GRAMMY award-winning film, to several appearances on national television shows including NBC’s “The Today Show”. While acclaimed on the national stage, the artist’s beginnings started in the heart of Gatlinburg as a regular cast member of Smoky Mountain Tunes and Tales and as a crowd favorite singer and songwriter at the Smoky Mountains Songwriters Festival.

"We are delighted to gather together again as a community to enjoy this extraordinary tradition,” says Mark Adams, CEO/President of the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is a special year, and we are very grateful for every person involved in making this a successful event.” 

The parade route begins at Baskins Creek Bypass and travels the length of downtown to traffic light #10 at Ski Mountain Road. Parade-goers are encouraged to arrive early on Saturday, July 3, to secure a place to watch the Midnight Parade along the Parkway. Events continue through July 4, beginning with the River Raft Regatta. 

The River Raft Regatta, Gatlinburg’s annual unmanned floatable objects race, will begin registration at the updated time of 11 a.m. at the former Christ in the Smokies Museum. The race will set sail at 1 p.m. and finish when all floatables have crossed the finish line at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Event-goers have the option to participate in the race by purchasing a rubber duck for $2. Winners in several different categories will receive official trophies. 

The 100th Army Band from Fort Knox, Kentucky will provide entertaining performances over the course of the holiday weekend. Beginning July 3, the band will perform at noon and 2 p.m. at The Village, Reagan Terrace Mall, Ober Gatlinburg, and the Gatlinburg Convention Center. The band will kick off the July 4 evening festivities the next day, with a performance at 9 p.m. at Ripley’s Aquarium Plaza, kindling excitement for the Fireworks Finale. 

Beginning at 11 p.m., the Fireworks Finale will mark a celebratory end to the weekend. With a spectacular display from the Gatlinburg Space Needle, spectators can view the fireworks from any vantage point in Gatlinburg.