In Gatlinburg, TN, Christmas is one of the most spectacular times of the year. Bright Christmas bulbs light up the city, and every little shop smells of cinnamon, pine, or pumpkin and spice. It is certainly the place to go if you want to experience that “traditional” Christmas. And when I think of Christmas, I can’t help but think of bundling up and venturing out into the cold for the classic Christmas parade. Of course, Gatlinburg would never disappoint in delivering all the things you love during the holidays, and its 36th Annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade is no exception to the rule.
This year, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies (part of one of the city’s largest attractions families) will be showcased during the parade. Aquarium friends Sharky and Sharkette will serve as grand marshals for the December 2nd event, as a cavalcade of floats and marching bands makes its way through the streets of Gatlinburg. Over 100 entries will grace this year’s parade, including over a dozen marching bands from Tennessee, Virginia, Alabama, Georgia and North Carolina, as well as the beloved Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. Rolling in at 24 hot dogs high, 60 hot dogs long, and 18 hot dogs wide, this world-famous frank is sure to be a star of the show, weighing a whopping 140,500 hot dogs.
Earlier this year, Ripley’s was recognized for its participation in and support of Gatlinburg’s special events with an International Festival and Events Association Pinnacle Award for Best Sponsor. The Aquarium is just one of many Ripley’s venues in the area. Ripley’s also includes the Believe It or Not Odditorium, Guinness World Records Museum, Ripley’s Moving Theater, and the Marvelous Mirror Maze & Candy Factory. Last year, the Fantasy of Lights parade also won a Gold designation in the International Festival and Events Association Pinnacle Awards for its television production.
And of course, what would a Christmas parade be without Santa? At 6 pm, Santa Claus will begin signing autographs and taking pictures at the Riverbend Mall at Traffic Light #3. The parade will begin at 7:30 pm at Traffic Light #1A, and will continue for about an hour and a half to traffic light #10.
Check out this video from last year’s parade!