By Leif Palmer
Posted on November 28, 2017
There are lots of ways to get into the spirit of the Christmas season, but none may be more pure or authentic than attending a good old-fashioned small-town Christmas parade. If that's your cup of holiday tea and you happen to be visiting the Smokies this week, then you might want to mark your calendars for a parade you won't soon forget.
The City of Gatlinburg's 42nd Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is coming up this Friday, December 1, beginning at 7:30 p.m. This award-winning event features lighted floats, marching bands, equestrian units, giant balloons and, of course, Santa Claus himself.
The parade route begins at traffic light #1a on East Parkway (U.S. Hwy. 321) and after hitting U.S. Hwy. 441 (Parkway) downtown, the route continues from traffic light #3 to traffic light #10.
Each year, some 60,000 people come from near and far to get a good view of the parade, even though it's televised on one of the local network affiliates. So if you want to see it in person, we recommend either staying at a hotel or motel in downtown Gatlinburg or, if you're not staying in town, finding a spot at one of our Gatlinburg parking lots and then enjoying the luxury of leaving your vehicle in one location until the parade is over and traffic has thinned out.
Regardless of how you decide to approach it, you'll need to plan on doing your traveling, parking and location claiming as early as possible. If you wait until just before the event, you may have a difficult time even getting close to downtown. But you can work that to your advantage. If you get to town earlier in the afternoon, you can park and then spend some time getting to know downtown Gatlinburg a little better. Browse the shops, see an attraction, enjoy an early dinner (or a late lunch) and otherwise just revel in the beauty of the Great Smoky Mountains. You can get to pretty much any destination downtown by walking or taking one of the city's trolleys.
Also, don't forget to wear plenty of warm clothing. You may be standing outside for long periods of time, so make sure you layer up and keep your head, ears and fingers warm.
We hope to see you at the parade!
About Leif Palmer
Leif Palmer loves residing in Gatlinburg. He is an avid outdoorsman: rowing for exercise on the lake, trail hiking, and free climbing rocks in the mountains. He indulges his arty side by periodically beating up pieces of marble by sculpting. He is always frustrated by his inability to sink long putts, and hates his curly hair (but his wife loves it). Leif has been known to muster enough courage to change a diaper, and hopes his son will become a chip off the old block.