July Fourth Crowd
Defies Rain Threat
To Enjoy A Big
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Beginning with the toll of church bells at 2 p.m and continuing to the explosion of fireworks at 9:30, downtown Greeneville celebrated Independence Day as a community for the first time in many years.
A few hundred citizens lined Main Street for the kickoff of the Town of Greeneville's "American Downtown" celebration at 2 o'clock, pausing in respect for the tolling of bells at a couple of downtown churches as a reminder to "let freedom ring."
The National Weather Service had forecast thunderstorms for the day and evening, but they did not come, and event organizers had announced in advance that they planned to go ahead "rain or shine" unless thunderstorms made it unsafe.
Their confidence proved well-justified, and the response to the planned events was very strong, despite occasional showers during the afternoon.
The parade, including some 30 entries of various kinds, began shortly thereafter under unexpectedly sunny skies, traveling from Greeneville High School to North Main Street, down Main Street to McKee Street, left onto McKee, then left onto College Street and back to the high school.
Miss Greene County Sarah Stokely, first runner-up in the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Pageant, was grand marshal.
The Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen walked the parade route in their patriotic attire, passing out hand-held American flags to children along the way.
Parade entries included, among others, the Greeneville Fire Department's engine 4, with Uncle Sam riding up top, the Army National Guard, American Legion Post 64, the Northeast Tennessee Volkswagen Association, Cub Scout packs, and the Greeneville Police Department.
Capturing the eyes of many were the floats from the Gatlinburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, including the giant Uncle Sam inflatable float and Gatlinburg mascot Zeno the Bear.
Among the most patriotically dressed of the parade viewers were Dot Alexander and Margie Douthat-Williams, who said they were delighted by the refreshing breeze and blue skies that graced the occasion.
"We're very big supporters of this town," Douthat-Williams said. "We love our little town."
BACK TO THE BIG SPRING
Following the parade, hundreds of spectators moved to the Big Spring area behind the Greeneville-Greene County Public Library, waiting in a lengthy line to cross the bridge behind the library to get to music, food, games and more.
Even Nike, a long-haired dachshund mix, and owner Melinda Bowman were in their red, white and blue.
"I'm just glad we have such a big crowd, glad that the weather is cooperating," said Amy Rose, public relations director of the Town of Greeneville, who organized the event. "I'm glad that we were able to have this as a free community event because of all the sponsors."
Greene County Partnership Tourism Director Tammy Kinser, another person who took a key role in the downtown event, was also hearing good reports.
"All I've heard is, 'We're so thankful to have something like this in downtown Greeneville again -- something to bring the family out to,'" Kinser said.
Rose said that John Brown played a major role in coordinating the musical entertainment for "American Downtown," while Joni Parker coordinated the parade on Thursday afternoon.
The crowd thinned a bit when some afternoon rain showers came along, but hundreds -- of all ages -- remained to enjoy the music, the inflatables, and the food from various food vendors.
FIREWORKS DRAW BIG CROWD
The crowd swelled again in the evening, with hundreds in the Big Spring area, and hundreds of cars parked around the downtown in anticipation of the fireworks and the re-lighting of the restored electric flag atop the former First National Bank building. (Please see related article on Page A-1).
The fireworks display was launched from the practice field in front of Greeneville High School and was visible from the Big Spring area and along sections of Main Street.
Children flocked to the games and inflatables in large numbers, and were a steady stream all afternoon, even when the showers came.
There was also a long line for those waiting to make and sign cards provided by Christ United Methodist Church to be sent overseas to military personnel.
The church also had a booth for face-painting, where 7-year-old Abigail Yarbrough stood in line with her grandmother, Josephine Yarbrough.
Abigail comes from a "major military family," her grandmother explained, noting that Abigail's mother is serving overseas, her father is in the National Guard, and her grandparents are retired veterans.
"She'll salute you in a minute," Josephine said, laughing.
For Abigail, the Fourth of July was about "having fun" and -- with the recent parade still in her thoughts -- candy!
She knew also that the Fourth of July is Independence Day.
"I like America," she said. "It's anything I can do -- draw pictures, bouncing on the inflatables."
It's freedom that even the very young can appreciate.
Financial sponsors for the celebration were Landair Transport Inc., a Gold-Level sponsor; Greeneville Federal Bank, Greeneville Oil & Petroleum, Inc., and DTR Tennessee Inc., Silver-Level sponsors; and Bronze-Level sponsors: Meco Corporation, Walmart Logistics, Laughlin Memorial Hospital, Takoma Regional Hospital, Summers-Taylor, Inc., Consumer Credit Union, John Deere Power Products, Andrew Johnson Bank and Food City. Media sponsors are The Greeneville Sun and Radio Greeneville.
The Town of Greeneville also worked with the Greene County Partnership's Tourism Department and Main Street: Greeneville.
'LET'S KEEP WORKING TOGETHER'
Andrea (Andy) Daniels, a board of directors member of Main Street: Greeneville and coordinator of the Downtown Revitalization division of the town's Vision 20/20 Project, was out of town but e-mailed this statement:
"First, I would like to praise Amy Rose for working so hard to make the parade on the Fourth of July possible, and all the activities, food, music, fireworks, etc. She did a wonderful job.
"As a person serving on the Downtown Revitization efforts, Main Street board member, and a concerned citizen, I hear all the time 'Let's get more activities in the beautiful downtown area.'
"We had 'Windows to the Past' in June, and are raising money for more murals to be painted, creating memories of Greeneville's rich heritage.
"We have now had a July 4th celebration, and Aug. 9th there will be an opportunity to come downtown and listen to music on a Friday night.
"Various groups are working to make things happen -- let's support them.
"The re-lighting of the American Flag on the old First Naional Bank building is another instance of people involved in the downtown area. I remeber this as a little girl growing up on Cutler Street.
"How exciting to have it re-lighted on the 4th of July 2013!
"Many people wanted to see this happen.
"Thank you, Scott Niswonger, for taking charge. The Heritage Trust/Mural Project was also supportive of the flag's being restored.
"Let's keep moving forward, working together- That what America is all about."