KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — City of Pigeon Forge officials are hoping for a homerun at this year’s Music in the Mountains Spring Parade. One change coming to this year’s event is an earlier start time with the parade kicking off at 5 p.m. instead of 6 p.m.

Major League Baseball legend Cal Ripken, Jr. will lead the way as grand marshal for the parade on Friday, April 28, at 5 p.m. High school marching bands from Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Alabama and Tennessee as well as twirlers from Ohio will be featured in this year’s parade as it travels down the Pigeon Forge Parkway.

Ripken also led the parade in 2022. In 2018, he replaced Dolly Parton as the grand marshal after 32 years. This year marks the second year back after the parade was canceled in 2020 and 2021.

“Cal Ripken, Jr. serving as our Music in the Mountains Spring Parade grand marshal guarantees that this year’s event will be a home run,” said Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster. “As the parade unofficially launches another tourism season in Pigeon Forge, we’re grateful that Cal and The Ripken Experience® Pigeon Forge will be on hand to lead the way.”

Cal Ripken, Jr.

“The Pigeon Forge Music in the Mountains Spring Parade is quickly becoming a tradition for me,” Cal Ripken, Jr. said. “I look forward to sharing in the excitement as our community celebrates another season in the Great Smoky Mountains.”

Ripken, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, is the co-founder of Ripken Baseball which operates The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge. This baseball and softball complex hosts more than 1,000 teams each year since opening in 2016.

The parade will begin at traffic light 6 on the Pigeon Forge Parkway and travel north to traffic light 3.

High school marching bands from Belle Vernon, Pa.; Dyer County in Newbern, Tenn.; Athens, Ala.; Craigsville, W.Va.; and Pigeon Forge are joining this year’s lineup along with the Star Strutters from Cincinnati, Ohio. To register for the parade or learn more, click here. The city is still looking for local marching bands, musicians, dancers and choral groups to join the parade.