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Mack Riddle American Legion Independence Day Parade canceled

J. H. Osborne • Jun 12, 2020 at 12:00 PM

KINGSPORT — Another major public event has been canceled in Kingsport this summer due to COVID-19. Organizers announced Thursday they’ve made the  tough decision to cancel the Mack Riddle American Legion Independence Day Parade for 2020. It would have been the event’s 67th annual run. The parade has served as the centerpiece of Fourth of July celebrations in Kingsport.

"This decades-long tradition is so important to our chamber, and we know how cherished it is by our residents and our business community as well,” said Vanessa Bennett, Executive Director of Operations and Talent Development for the chamber. “However, we are in a situation that we have never been in before. With the focus on the health and safety of participants and spectators, canceling at this time is necessary.”

Bennett said Leadership Kingsport and Kingsport Chamber staff made the decision after conversations with local leaders and first responders.

“We are very fortunate that Visit Kingsport and the Downtown Kingsport Association are providing two locations for fireworks this year in order to prevent a large crowd at one event,” Bennett said. “We encourage you to enjoy, from your cars, and help us celebrate our independence safely. We are planning a special video that will be shown on our social media platforms on July 4. We look forward to seeing you at the 67th Annual Mack Riddle American Legion Independence Day Parade in 2021.”

The fireworks

“We’re going to do two displays: one downtown from Cement Hill and another one at Dobyns-Bennett (High School),” Visit Kingsport Executive Director Jud Teague said when the displays were announced. “We’re going to do them at the same time to the same music.”

Teague said the idea behind two displays at the same time is to prevent having a large crowd at one event. People will be able to spread out across town in order to enjoy the fireworks. Folks are being encouraged to sit in their vehicles, listen to the music on the radio and enjoy the display.

Teague asked that people who want to sit outside their vehicles abide by the 6-foot rule.

The music timed to the fireworks will be aired on WTFM (98.5) and its sister stations WRZK (95.9) and WVEK (102.7).

Teague said the fireworks display will begin between 9:45 and 10 p.m. on July 4 and last about 12 to 15 minutes.

Cities across the country are grappling with how to handle Independence Day celebrations, struggling with the questions of should parades be held and how can people stay far enough apart while watching a fireworks display?

Johnson City canceled its Fourth of July event in April; Greeneville is forging ahead with a celebration that includes a parade, concerts and a fireworks display — all the while recommending social distancing guidelines.

The Blountville Ruritan’s Independence Day Parade will be Saturday, July 4, at 2:00 pm, starting at Oak Street / Keystone Drive on the east side of town and ending at the historic Sullivan County Courthouse in heart of the Blountville Historic District. Line-up for the parade begins about 1:00 pm. Participants should line up on Oak Street, Cherry Street, and Keystone Drive. Stay on one side of the street to allow traffic to continue to pass. Signage will be in place to help facilitate the line-up.

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