By Michael Williams
The Veterans’ Homecoming Parade and the Civil War Relics show, two annual events intended to honor our nation’s veterans and appeal to military historians and collectors of military memorabilia, will be held August 29 in Pigeon Forge.
The parade was originally designated the Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Parade when it began four years ago. In the past two years, the focus of the parade has been expanded to include veterans of all conflicts and during peacetime. This year the City of Pigeon Forge is partnering with the 50th Commemorative Committee on the Vietnam War. The parade will therefore have a special emphasis on Vietnam veterans.
The parade will feature military vehicles, floats, marching bands and, of course, veterans of several wars. In past events, as many as 100 floats were entered in the parade, including floats from various local businesses, attractions, churches and civic groups. A grand marshal is yet to be selected for the event. Last year’s grand marshal was country music star Louise Mandrell.
“The City of Pigeon Forge has a long history of honoring our nation’s many brave veterans and that will continue on into the future,” says Butch Helton, special events manager for the City of Pigeon Forge.
The parade begins at 9:00 a.m. The route will travel northbound on the Parkway beginning at traffic light #8 (Dollywood Lane) and ending at traffic light #5 (Jake Thomas Road).
In 2014, the parade had 68 units and organizers are hoping to increase that number in 2015. Any group or business wanting to participate in the parade should contact Wally Allen at (865) 429-7395 or email him at Wallen@CityOfPigeonForge.com.
At the conclusion of the parade, the Civil War Relics Show will be held at the Pigeon Forge Convention Center located at 4010 Parkway in Pigeon Forge next to the KFC.
The Relics Show is a much anticipated event for collectors of military memorabilia or anyone with an interest in the Civil War. The event features more than 100 vendors selling historical artifacts from the American Revolution to the modern era. Guests can peruse collections of antique guns, flags, uniforms, weaponry, knives, currency and more.
The event will feature reenactments as well as a Civil War camp. A canon will be fired several times throughout the day and guests can meet re-enactors portraying Abraham Lincoln, Confederate General Robert E. Lee, Mary Todd Lincoln, Stonewall Jackson and others. Several authors will be on hand to sell their books as well.