This year Abraham Productions moved one of their events, the Gatlinburg Gathering, to the 4th of July weekend. With the move, Abraham Productions was able to join in on some added fun in the city of Gatlinburg, Tennessee – and that was the 4th of July Midnight Parade! Ivan Parker, Karen Peck Gooch and Victoria Huggins would represent the Gatlinburg Gathering on a special float that would cruise down the main thoroughfare in Gatlinburg a little past midnight. The city expected at least 100,000 to be in attendance to watch the 38th Annual Midnight Parade. On Twitter, a few weeks prior, Lauren Talley Alvey dubbed Ivan “Father Abraham” and Karen “Miss Gatlinburg” in anticipation of the evening. (All credit for that creative title goes to Lauren!)
At around 10:30 PM on July 3rd, my sister, mom and I sat on the cement wall under the convention center sign claiming our “spot” to view the parade. I wasn’t planning on blogging this part of our Gatlinburg adventure, but with plenty of time on my hands, I thought, “Why not?” So here’s my countdown and a little bit of what transpired before the parade began!
11:09 PM – The sounds of Almost Home (from the Triumphant Quartet) drifted outside and floated on the breeze as I and many others waited for the midnight parade to start. The concert ended not long after that with a flood of folks coming out of the center and melting into the crowd. Lawn chairs that had been sitting on the sidewalk’s edge all day began to fill. Only one hour until the parade!
11:30 PM – The crowd had thickened a little…some entrepreneurs took that as a cue to advertise their wares! Holding a stack of white boxes with green dots leaning against her, a lady walked by announcing the price to nothing less than Krispy Kreme donuts! (Of course, the establishment that sold frozen custard was still open too…) Anyway, the most amusing sight I saw that night was the man who walked around with a plastic “tub” strapped to his shoulder selling 4th of July accessories. These items included fiber optic hair that turned all the colors of the rainbow, necklaces, wands, and all sorts of things! My personal favorite though, was the colorful Mohawk that lit up! (Really regret not getting one of those…LOL)
11:50 PM – At ten till the scene was much the same. One thing that had ceased was the vehicles zipping up and down the road. Just a little more waiting!
12:00 AM – Okay, so the parade was a little, eh, … late. But the kids entertained us plenty! All it took was a “ching! “and off the kiddo’s would go…right into the street scampering after the pocket change that had just been thrown there. It didn’t take long before at least a hundred children were running up and down the street in search of the shiny pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters that they heard hitting the pavement.
A little after midnight we saw the first sign of life coming down the street…two kids walked in the front holding a white sign that said, “Pitch in…for the Boys and Girls Club.” Following them were more teens edging close to the crowd with buckets collecting money followed by a school bus. Behind them? Nothing. I’m sure you can imagine the confusion at this point! The gentleman standing next to me said, “That’s the most exciting thing I’ve seen since we milked the cow!” LOL Other comments like, “This must be a Southern parade,” followed. (Okay, so the parade was a little more than late!) Anyway…
The Gatlinburg Gathering float was number #40 out of 80 participants. I wish you could’ve heard the cheer that rose up from the crowd around me when Ivan, Karen and Victoria came by! If you watch the video below, you can relive the moment and watch the float cruise by too! (There are some other videos from the parade on my socialcam page! Just look for titles like “Happy 4th” and “Big Bike.”)
Conclusion: My favorite part of the parade (outside of Ivan, Karen and Victoria) was the armed forces floats at the beginning of the parade. They were the most patriotic and well-crafted in my opinion! Second to that, the Dixie Stampede had an admirable display and the “Zipline” advertisement was fun. Now, what do you say to hearing about the singing the night after that? Be looking for it soon!