Thousands celebrate Independence Day across Northeast Tennessee

Jonathan Roberts • Jul 4, 2019 at 7:25 PM

From Erwin to Jonesborough and Johnson City to Bristol, thousands of East Tennesseans came out to parades, festivals and fireworks displays across the region Thursday, reveling in the Independence Day festivities throughout the Tri-Cities.

Things got their start in Jonesborough with the Jonesborough Days parade rolling through Main Street shortly after 10 a.m., with everyone from children, firefighters, veterans and more taking part and tossing candy and other goodies into the eager arms of kids lining the streets. 

“It’s real fun,” said Aaron Farish, who attended the parade with his family. “(I) just like spending time with my family and the parade — the kids like the parade.” 

With American flags big and small waving throughout the crowd, Jonesborough was a sea of red, white and blue even after the last parade vehicle came through the area. And despite a deepening divide in the country politically, Farish said he thinks things aren’t as bad as they seem. 

“Everything’s kind of heightened during the holidays,” Farish said. “A lot of stuff that’s portrayed by the media, I don’t think — in the common public — is actually true. I think, in general, Americans are still pretty damn patriotic.” 

As Jonesborough’s parade was ending and the Jonesborough Days activities started ramping up, the town of Erwin’s “Welcome Home Veterans” parade took place, followed shortly thereafter by Elizabethton’s patriotic bike parade just after noon. But, the best was saved for last. 

Two of the areas most popular Independence Day celebrations, Unicoi’s Freedom Fest and Johnson City’s 34th annual 4th of July celebration, got underway around 5 p.m. And with a plethora of things to do, live music and several giveaways, thousands flocked to Johnson City to, not only enjoy the music, food and entertainment, but to secure their spot for one of the region’s largest fireworks shows, which began just before 10 p.m.

Burnet Hamby, for example, was in the same spot he’s been sitting in for the last 10 years — right under a thicket, which provided plenty of shade on the south side of Science Hill High School’s baseball field, where the fireworks were shot from. 

“Every year I come here,” said Hamby, who arrived about four hours before the fireworks display.

Anna Anderson, on the other hand, was at Freedom Hall for her first time after moving to the area recently, but she too was there nearly four hours prior to the display. 

“I think (this celebration) is great,” Anderson said. “It symbolizes our freedom.” 

In the end though, everyone came out for the same reason: to see the fireworks. Or, as Hamby put it, the “boom, boom, booms.” 

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