The theme of this year’s parade is “All Aboard the Tweetsie Express.” The annual parade is always sponsored and organized by the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce. Chamber Director Tonya Stevens said this year’s theme provides a lot of variety.
“Floats can be about the new bike trail, or they can be about the history of the Tweetsie train,” Stevens said. The grand marshal of this year’s parade is Dr. Dan Shumaier, who led the successful effort to convert the derelict rail line into a popular bike and walking trail over the past few years.
Stevens said the parade should be about the size of last year’s parade, with approximately 60 units participating, along wit six marching bands, from Cloudland, Elizabethton, Hampton, Happy Valley and Unaka high schools and T.A. Dugger Jr. High School.
The parade will also follow the same route as last year, with the various units staging on Elk Avenue next to Big John’s Closeouts, beginning at 4 p.m. Stevens said downtown Elk Avenue will be closed at 4, and the owners of cars parked on the street will be asked to move them.
One difference this year is that every float will be judged this year during the parade. She said the winners will be announced during the week following the parade. She said this change is a change to give all entrants a spirit of opportunity.
Stevens said safety is once again the top priority. The parades distributing candy will have members walking beside the float, passing out candy hand to hand to children. She said participants have been instructed not to throw candy.
“We want to emphasize to parents and grandparents to keep their children behind the barricades. They are there to protect the children and we don’t want a small child to run into the street in front of a float to retrieve a Tootsie Roll. There should be plenty of candy for the children. We want everyone to be safe.”
The units of the parade will proceed down Elk Avenue in an easterly direction and the units will disperse from Cat Island Park.