Tennessee State Parks Feature Food, Fun, and Fireworks This Fourth of July
American Founding Father and second president of the United States, John Adams, only missed it by two days when he wrote to his wife, Abigail, on July 3, 1776, “The second day of July, 1776, will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it… ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
Representatives from the 13 original colonies known as the Continental Congress voted on July 4, 1776 to approve the final draft of a document penned primarily by Thomas Jefferson declaring our independence from Great Britain.
And that’s why July 4th became America’s birthday.
I like to think Mr. Adams would be proud of our celebrations in Tennessee’s big cities, small towns, backyards and state parks where illuminations range from starry skies to fireworks displays, parades wind through tree-lined campgrounds, sports are always family-friendly and campfires toast marshmallows to crisp perfection.
Kids Rock at Rock Island
Dava Lundquist, Interpretive Specialist at Rock Island State Park, says kids will be making red, white and blue tie-dyed tee shirts and decorating their bikes just in time for a two-wheeled parade with a park vehicle and flashing blue lights leading the way.
Revolutionary War water balloon fights, contests for watermelon eaters and sand castle builders, night hikes and camp fire programs will be fun too.
When I visited Rock Island State Park last year water levels were unusually low so boat ramp access was tricky. This year’s plentiful rainfall has led to more frequent discharges from the dams so guided canoe float trips on the Caney Fork River below Center Hill Dam are being scheduled during mornings and afternoons as weather and current allow. Visit www.tn.gov/environment/parks/RockIsland or call 931-686-2471 for more info.
Family Fun at Fall Creek Falls
Dress up your car, your pet, your bike or yourself for the “traditional” Independence Day parade which will start in the village at Fall Creek Falls and end at Campground A.
After watermelon and cake for everyone, move to the field for a sack race, tug-o-war, egg toss and other friendly competitions. At 7:30 p.m., Lou Wamp and Swing Shift will perform in the amphitheater by the swimming pool. Admission is $3 and children under 6 enter free. In case of rain, the concert moves indoors to the recreation hall. Visit www.tn.gov/environment/parks/FallCreekFalls or call 866-250-8611 or 423-881-5298 for more info.
Red, White, and Blue(grass) in Savannah
You’ll want to make a weekend of it at Pickwick Landing State Park since the 35th Annual Savannah Bluegrass Festival gets underway about 12 miles north at Wayne Jerrolds Riverfront Park in Savannah on Friday evening at 6 p.m. and continues all day Saturday. Wayne, who has been quite a musician in his own right for decades, continues to play and is the organizer of the festival. He says about two dozen bluegrass bands are scheduled to appear. Bring your own lawn chairs. In honor of its 35th year, admission is free. Pickwick Landing State Park’s annual fireworks display starts behind the inn at 9 p.m. on July 4. Visit www.tn.gov/environment/parks/PickwickLanding or call 800-250-8615 or 731-689-3129 for info.
Eat It Up at Paris Landing
Paris Landing State Park has a special July 4 promotion. The lunch and dinner buffet from 11 a.m. to 8:30 pm is all you care to eat for $9.95 and includes catfish, smoked chicken, barbecue pork, veggies, salad bar with watermelon, fruit cobblers and soft serve ice cream. The buffet is half price for kids ages 6-12 and free for a child age 5 or less with a paying adult. Live music begins at 7 p.m. CST at the amphitheater and fireworks start at 9 p.m. Visit www.tn.gov/environment/parks/ParisLanding or call 800-250-8614 or 731-642-4311 for more information.
How will you celebrate America’s birthday this year?