It would be impossible to count the things that have been canceled due to COVID-19. The list is a mile long and we still can’t see the end of it. In Farragut, the biggest blow has been the cancellation of the Fourth of July parade.
This would’ve been the 33rd year for the parade, and residents aren’t taking the loss lightly. But the sad truth is we couldn’t keep participants and staff safe while throwing a parade, even if paradegoers could manage it. The town of Farragut was not alone in this decision. Knoxville’s Festival on the Fourth was also canceled, as was the popular Gatlinburg Midnight Parade.
Instead, the town is celebrating Festive Fourth at Home, an event created by the Farragut Parks & Rec Department. Residents and business owners are encouraged to decorate homes, shops, cars and even themselves when the parade would normally happen – 9:30 to 11 a.m. on July 4 – for friends and neighbors to enjoy while driving or walking. (It’s essentially a reverse parade. Learn more here.)
Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Julie Blaylock was disappointed about the loss of the parade, but she was quick to turn her focus to helping the community celebrate Festive Fourth at Home. When chamber staff found out about the event, Julie’s first thought was to drive around town in her husband’s Dodge pickup passing out candy. But Suzanne Krygier, the chamber’s finance and membership services director, had the idea of handing out coupons from local businesses instead. Julie loved the idea.
“Our chamber is excited to be part of bringing the parade safely to residents in our ‘Chamber Chariot’ and passing out the coupons and goodies we’re collecting from member businesses for the occasion. I’m almost as excited for the arm workout I’ll get helping wash, wax and detail the husband’s big yellow truck the night before,” she says. “More than ever now, businesses need consumers to know they exist and are open.”
When Farragut Parks & Rec Director Sue Stuhl heard about the chamber’s efforts, she decided to join in. She plans to be out and about – in a less conspicuous vehicle – presenting Festive Fourth at Home participants with Farragut-branded goodies.
“I’m excited to see how residents will deck out their homes and businesses for the holiday, and it will be fun to reward those who step up their decorating game. It’s not what we’re used to doing on the Fourth, but I think it’s another great way to celebrate our country and interact with our neighbors.”
At the same time, she hopes the parade will return, bigger and better than ever, in 2021. Julie agrees.
“The parade has always been, and will continue to be, one of the best of Farragut’s community traditions.”
The town of Farragut is creating a map of neighborhoods that are participating in Festive Fourth at Home. To be included on the map, email firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday, July 2.
Town of Farragut public relations and marketing coordinator Wendy Smith is your reliable Farragut Insider.