A long-time Gatlinburg resident told me that he wondered why Knoxville always scheduled their Christmas parade for the same night as Gatlinburg’s Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade. Based on the strong turnout and impressive list of participants for the 36th annual Gatlinburg event, it hardly mattered.
The major tourist attractions in the Smokies, such as Titanic and Dixie Stampede, were represented. They had marching bands from nearby towns as well as several from neighboring states. I was happy to see an Oscar Mayer Wienermobile, a large helium balloon and some Einstein Simplified fans riding in the Chocolate Monkey Mobile.
The parade started with a convoy of police cars and firetrucks from the city, county and other municipalities in the area. It made sense that the firetrucks were positioned to make a quick getaway in case of emergency. However, it would have been more enjoyable if they had been spread throughout the parade or if their sirens and horns hadn’t drowned out the sound of the Gatlinburg-Pittman High School Band that followed them.
My wife and I watched the parade from the rooftop patio of Loco Burro, where I also did some reports with Taz Cable for SMOMOtv.com. In one segment, I interviewed Rob Scheer, the owner and president of Lumberjack Feud, who jumped off his float to come upstairs for the conversation.
In the middle of the parade, an old-time fire engine broke down in front of Magnet-O-World. The various floats, bands and balloons had to squeeze past until a group of old-time tractors and an old tow-truck showed up. The tow-truck, which looked like a real-life version of Tow Mater from “Cars,” pulled the firetruck out of the way.