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July 4th loaded with family fun activities across Northeast Tennessee

Jennifer Sprouse and John Thompson — Press Staff Writers • Jul 3, 2013 at 9:01 AM

If you’re looking for fireworks, family fun and fellowship, there are plenty of activities scheduled this week to celebrate Independence Day.

On Thursday, the 28th Annual Independence Day Fireworks Celebration at Freedom Hall Civic Center will be going on from 5-11 p.m. The event will feature food vendors, craft booths and children’s games, according to the Pepsi Fireworks website.

Musical performances will start at 5 p.m. with Brinley Addington, followed by Jimbo Whaley and the Greenbriar Band at 6:30 p.m., as well as another performance from 7:35-8 p.m. Confederate Railroad is scheduled to perform at 8:10 p.m.

A tribute to the Armed Forces will take place from 7:15-7:30 p.m. and will include color guards and patriotic songs by New Victory Quartet and Haley Lingerfelt. A military flyover will occur at 7:30 p.m., according to the Pepsi Fireworks website.

Fireworks will start at 9:55 p.m. and Addington will take the stage after the fireworks from 10:20-11 p.m.

Various prize drawings will also be held throughout the event.

Elizabethton’s annual Fourth of July parade is being promoted as the biggest one ever.

“I have done 42 parades, but this will be by far the biggest,” Bob Cable said of the downtown parade he has been working on nearly full time for the past several months.

In past parades that Cable has organized, he has usually worked a whole year, doing a little bit each month. That was not the case this year, as he took charge of the 4th of July parade in the spring, starting from scratch.

He dusted off his old notebooks and files, updating points of contact and finding new ones. After retiring from business last year, Cable is devoting much of his time to the effort. This week things have really gotten busy. His cell phone seems to be constantly ringing.

“It is going to be a big parade as long as it doesn’t rain it out,” Cable said. He is keeping an eye on the weather as he scrambles to put the last pieces together. “They is a chance of rain in the late afternoon.” Cable’s parade will kick off at 1 p.m.

There will be plenty to do before the parade starts, Cable said. That includes a lot of free stuff.

“There is going to be free ice cream,” Cable said. “There is going to be free watermelon, courtesy of Carter County Bank, and free cold water, courtesy of Sheriff Chris Mathes,” Cable said.

In addition to the free food and drink, there will also be free entertainment. There will be music by the Bulls Eye Band and also by Dr. Bill Armstrong’s band.

There will be 12 participants in a hot dog eating contest sponsored by Jays Corner. It will take pace in front of Lady Bug Antiques at noon.

There will also be a wrestling ring set up across the street from City Market and Smoky Mountain Wrestling will have several matches.

The parade will get started at 1 p.m. at Big John’s Closeout and proceed down East Elk Avenue to the Veterans Monument. It will include a special salute to veterans. The veterans from all branches of the armed forces and every war since World War II will be driven along the route in antique cars.

The grand marshal of the parade will be Albert Williams, 94, a veteran of World War II.

While not a World War II vet, Eric Montgomery has honored them by serving as a re-enactor wearing real World War II uniforms. This time, Montgomery will be coming all the way from Erie, Pa., to march in the parade wearing the work uniform of a Navy sailor in World War II.

As the veterans reach the end of the parade, they will be escorted to a tent with a good view of all the parade that follows behind them. Not just the veterans will be able to see the parade from the comfort of a seat. There will be bleachers in each block for the elderly and for mothers with children.

The focus of the parade will be at the intersection of Elk Avenue and the Veterans Memorial. The parade will stop at that point as John Williams, co-owner of Dino’s Restaurant and a former singer at East Tennessee State University, will sing “God Bless America” and “America the Beautiful.” That will be followed by veteran David Batchelder playing taps on the trumpet.

A Bell 407 helicopter from Wings Air Rescue flown by Joe Doyle and a Bell 206 helicopter flown by Mark Musick will fly above the parade route.

There will be plenty of rumble on the street as well, with antique cars and the Rolling Thunder veterans’ motorcycle group.

There will also be high school bands and the Shriners’ Oriental Band, complete with belly dancer and hearse pulling a calliope played by Dave Arney.

As with all of Cable’s parades, the children will not be left out. He said there will be many costumed characters in the parade, including SpongeBob, Mickey Mouse, Superman, Spider-man, and Batman and his Batmobile. There will also be candy and gifts tossed to the children.

Among the dignitaries in the parade will be U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Mayor Curt Alexander.

He said President Abe Lincoln will also be in the parade.

“Its going to be a big parade,” Cable said.

The Watauga Lake 4th of July Boat Parade is also set for Thursday at 2 p.m. Boats from participating marinas –– Cove Ridge, Fish Springs, Lakeshore, Mallard Cove, Pioneer Landing and Tilawa –– will compete for gas prizes for best decorated boats, according to wataugalakeinfo.com.

The parade will start at Watauga Dam and will end at Butler Bridge.

According to the website, Lakeshore Marina will have fireworks starting at sundown.

Jonesborough Days is also scheduled Friday-Sunday, and will include a parade Saturday at 10 a.m. and a fireworks display at 10 p.m., www.jonesboroughtn.org said.

Friday’s musical entertainment on the Main Stage at Jonesborough Days includes Knoxville native Logan Murrell at 5 p.m. and rhythm and blues band JV Squad at 7 p.m., according to the festival guide. On Saturday, Mark Kroos will perform at 5 p.m. and Eddie and Martha Adcock will go on at 7 p.m.

Music and storytelling will also be featured on Doc’s Front Porch on the International Storytelling Center plaza on Saturday and Sunday.

According to the festival guide, Jonesborough Days will also have a Children’s Area set up, including free games, inflatables and face painting.

Jonesborough Days will include chili pepper, pancake and watermelon eating contests, as well as a new SweetFrog Ice Cream contest.

Also in Jonesborough, the Jonesborough Repertory Theatre will be performing their annual 1940s USO Show on Friday at 7:30 p.m., Saturday at 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 and 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the show cost $14 for general admission and $12 for students and seniors.

On Friday night in downtown Johnson City, First Friday activities will be going on to celebrate Independence Day. Working under the theme “Paint the Town Red, White and Blue,” this month’s First Friday will have a variety of kids activities, as well as free, live music from Bristol band Annabelle’s Curse. The band will perform at 7 p.m.

The town of Unicoi’s Independence Day tradition will continue Thursday, with its annual Freedom Fest fireworks event.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. on the field next to Unicoi Elementary School, 404 Massachusetts Ave., in Unicoi. Unicoi Public Relations Coordinator Molly Campbell said this year’s event will feature three musical acts. The Rhythm Brewers will perform from 5-7 p.m., the Larkey Band will take the stage from 7-9 p.m., and Lauren Ervin will perform from 9-9:30 p.m.

The fireworks show will begin at around 9:30 p.m. The Unicoi Ruritan will be on hand selling concessions throughout the event.

“It’s going to be bigger than ever,” Campbell said.

The event is free to attend. For more information, call Unicoi Town Hall at 743-7162.

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