Mack Riddle Independence Day parade

Participants march in the 2019 Independence Day parade in Kingsport in this file photo. The parade was sidelined by the COVID-19 pandemic last year but is set to return this year. It will begin at 10 a.m. on July 3 at the Renaissance Center.

To date, it appears Kingsport alone of the Tri-Cities will host a July 4th parade, and that means visitors from other localities may add to the excitement from the Renaissance Center to Memorial Park across from Dobyns-Bennett High School.

We don’t know what plans Bristol may make, but Johnson City has for the second consecutive year canceled what was its annual Pepsi Independence Day Fireworks Celebration, saying the event requires extensive planning and that the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place earlier this year and unknowns about the pandemic led Pepsi and city officials to cancel this year’s event.

Long heralded as among the best fireworks shows in the region, the Rogersville Fourth of July Celebration is also approaching. Although organizers are pretty much limiting it to a fireworks show, it promises to be one not to miss. But a little more help is needed.

Event Chairman Dr. Blaine Jones said recently that donations for the event have “slowed to a trickle. We really could use several more large sponsors/donations to put us over the top so to speak,” Jones said. “But, like we always say, any size donation, large or small, will help us out. We are very, very close to being at a level of a fireworks show that we have never seen in these parts.”

The celebrations take place Saturday, July 3, in Rogersville and Kingsport. Previously, Rogersville has hosted a full day of live music, children’s games, food and other activities at Rogersville City Park, but this year there will only be live music at the park at 5 p.m. with the fireworks at 9:30 p.m. If you’d like to donate, call Jones at (423) 272-3150.

In Kingsport, the 67th annual Independence Day parade will begin at 10 a.m. on July 3 at the Renaissance Center and proceed down Center Street to Fort Henry Drive, ending at Memorial Park across from Dobyns-Bennett High School. The parade will take place without any special conditions, according to Vanessa Bennett, the Kingsport Chamber of Commerce’s executive director of operations and talent development.

“We are urging people to get vaccinated, though,” Bennett said. “We’re going to be able to have these things if more people are vaccinated and keep everybody safe. We’re hopeful that the parade route is so spread out that will help as well.”

The chamber is accepting applications for sponsors and entries for the parade. Interested parties can call (423) 392-8800 or email vbennett@kingsportchamber.org. At this point, Bennett said three bands have confirmed for the parade, Dobyns-Bennett, West Ridge and Volunteer. Also, West Ridge will include its dance team, ROTC and cheerleaders, Bennett said.

“We’ll be announcing our grand marshal soon,” Bennett said. “I think it’s going to be some people that everybody will be proud of.”

The Twilight Alive Concert series will kick off that evening and include a fireworks display.

“It has been a tough year for all of us through the pandemic,” Bennett said. The parade “will be a great way our community can join together as we celebrate our freedom and honor those who serve and sacrifice for our country.”

The return of the Mack Riddle American Legion Independence Day Parade followed by Fun Fest signals full speed ahead in the city’s litany of year-round events, and we’re certainly glad for the progress we’ve made against COVID-19 to allow for these events. But we will continue to encourage everyone eligible to get vaccinated against this often debilitating and potentially deadly disease. The more people who are protected, the safer we’ll all feel and be.