This Thursday, the town of Farragut will celebrate the Fourth of July with a parade for the 32nd year. There will be floats, marching bands, animals, politicians and chaos – like every other year – but it will be a happy celebration for those who aren’t trying to drive on Kingston Pike during the parade. (Yes, that happens every year.)
In preparation, here are a few historical tidbits about Fourth of July celebrations. These were gleaned from history.com.
- The Continental Congress voted in favor of independence on July 2, and two days later, delegates from 13 colonies signed the Declaration of Independence, penned by Thomas Jefferson. John Adams believed July 2 was the date that should be celebrated as the birth of our country and reportedly turned down invitations to appear at July 4 events. He wrote to his wife, Abigail, that July 2 would be celebrated “as the great anniversary Festival” and activities should include “Pomp and Parade … Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations …”
- Adams and Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826 – the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- Philadelphia held the first annual event celebrating independence on July 4, 1777. In 1778 and 1781, George Washington issued double rations of rum to his soldiers to mark the day.
- After the war ended, July 4 celebrations were an opportunity for new leaders to address citizens and cultivate unity. But by the last decade of the 18th century, the two major political parties – Federalists and Republicans – began holding separate celebrations in many large cities.
- A spirit of patriotism surged after the war of 1812, and in 1870, July 4 became a federal holiday. In 1941, it became a paid holiday for federal employees.
The grand marshal for this year’s parade is Dr. Tom Kim, founder of the Free Medical Clinic. Kim escaped from North Korea with his family as a child. He grew up in California but returned to Korea to study medicine. He came to Knoxville to train in hematology and oncology at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.
He opened his first free clinic more than 25 years ago to provide medical care for the working poor. He went on to open several free clinics in surrounding counties, and two of those now operate independently.
Fleet Feet Sports Knoxville will host the fourth annual Farragut Freedom Run 1 Mile and 2 Mile before the parade. This year’s race benefits Smoky Mountain Service Dogs. Register online.
This year’s parade will have a slightly different starting point due to repaving work in the Farragut High School parking lot. Parade participants will enter the pike at West Point Drive in front of Firestone Complete Auto Care. The parade begins at 9:30 a.m. Get there early to stake out a good spot for brunch and parade viewing!
Wendy Smith is public relations and marketing coordinator for the town of Farragut and writes The Farragut Insider for the town’s website.