By Ashley Rader
Downtown Elizabethton will be decked out in the patriotic spirit Wednesday as the annual Fourth of July parade makes its way through town starting at noon.
The parade will follow the traditional route from Big John’s Closeouts to the Monument. The parade will consist of patriotically decorated floats, veteran’s organizations, local dignitaries and politicians.
Chamber of Commerce Administrative Assistant Stephanie McKinney said the parade will be a smaller, more basic parade this year because of the recent changes made in leadership at the Chamber. She said there would be around 17 entries in the parade this year, along with local veterans, politicians and dignitaries.
The grand marshal for the parade will be City Councilman Bill Carter. Carter is an Army veteran. He retired with the rank of Lt. Colonel with 30 years experience in the Army. He has served as a member of City Council since November 2010.
Six veterans have signed up to ride in the parade. They will be driven in cars provided by the Carter County Car Club. Veterans who will be participating include Robert Eicher, Cameron Loessberg, Ray Lyons, F.D. Sams, Ray Hill and Charles Bowers. The parade will also include a memorial to all veterans, who died while on active duty and those who have passed away since. A vacant car draped with an American flag will be driven along the parade route. A soldier carrying a folded American flag will walk along in front of the car.
The parade will include the Shriners, the Elizabethton Twins and the veteran’s advocacy group Rolling Thunder. Local dignitaries and politicians will include Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey, Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander, Elizabethton City Manager Fred Edens, Congressman Phil Roe, State Representative Kent Williams, Senator Rusty Crowe and Chamber of Commerce President Chandrea Shell.
A flyover by Wings Air Rescue has been scheduled for around 12:15 p.m., unless they receive an emergency call.
Streets in downtown Elizabethton will be closed starting one hour before the parade, however, motorists will be alerted as they come into downtown of the change. Also, those parking on the street will be asked to move their cars once the streets are closed. Vehicles that are not moved will be towed.
The barricades and traffic barrels and cones will be put out early Wednesday morning so they can be moved into place when they are needed. Several side streets leading into downtown will also be closed for the parade. Portions of Academy Street, Riverside Drive, Sycamore Street, Armed Forces Drive, Elm Street, E Street, Lynn Avenue and Watauga Avenue will be affected.
Later in the evening, a fireworks display will follow the Elizabethton Twins game. The fireworks will be shot between 9:30 and 10 p.m., depending on the length of the ball game.