Gatlinburg’s 36th annual Fantasy of Lights Christmas Parade will showcase Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies and one of the City’s largest and best known attractions families, Ripley’s Entertainment.
Sharky and Sharkette of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies will serve as the Parade’s Grand Marshals as it travels through downtown Gatlinburg on Friday, December 2 starting at 7:30 p.m. to the cheers of an anticipated crowd of more than 80,000 spectators.
Earlier this year, Ripley’s won an International Festival and Events Association Pinnacle award for Best Sponsor for Gatlinburg Special Events. The award recognized Ripley’s continued support of all of Gatlinburg’s events and community activities.
The Ripley’s Family includes the Believe It or Not Odditorium, Guinness World Records Museum, Davy Crockett Mini Golf, Ripley’s Haunted Adventure, Ripley’s Marvelous Mirror Maze & Candy Factory, Ripley’s Moving Theater and, of course, the award-winning Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Today, nearly 40 years after the company arrived in Sevier County, one can find a sampling of every Ripley's venue in this family destination. In fact, Gatlinburg now boasts the largest concentration of Ripley's businesses in the world.
The “Fantasy of Lights” Parade also won a Gold designation in the International Festival and Events Association Pinnacle Awards for its television production from last year.
Distinguished entries in this year’s parade include the world-famous Oscar Mayer Wienermobile. The first Wienermobile was designed by Carl Mayer, nephew of Oscar Mayer, in 1936. The Wienermobile itself is 24 hot dogs high, 60 hot dogs long, 18 hot dogs wide and weighs 140,500 hot dogs.
The parade excitement for young and old also includes more than 100 parade entries, over a dozen marching bands from Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Alabama, and giant helium balloons taking to the streets.
Santa’s Autograph Party cranks up at 6 p.m. at Riverbend Mall, in the midst of the main viewing area for the parade at Traffic Light #3. The parade begins at Traffic Light #1A on Hwy 321 at 7:30 p.m. and ends about an hour-and-a-half later at Traffic Light #10.