KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The iconic Harlem Globetrotters will return to East Tennessee this summer to lead the 48th Annual Gatlinburg Fourth of July Midnight Parade.

Gatlinburg officials announced Tuesday that the world-renowned exhibition basketball team serve as Grand Marshals of the first Independence Day celebration in the nation this year.

The Gatlinburg Fourth of July Midnight Parade, which was named one of the Top 10 Parades to see in the U.S. by National Geographic Traveler Magazine, will march through Gatlinburg starting at the Baskins Creek Bypass on East Parkway at 12:01 a.m. Decorated floats will line up on East Parkway featuring marching bands, balloons and more.

After the parade, the River Raft Regatta will start around 1 p.m. at the former Christ in the Smokies Museum parking area. Visitors can decorate their boats before setting sail along the Pigeon River, the news release states. Boaters will need to get ready around 11 a.m.

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  • gatlinburg midnight parade fourth of july independence day
  • Gatlinburg Parade

Anyone who wishes to participate in the race can purchase a rubber duck for $2 or $3, for $5 at the event.

Gatlinburg will also host the fireworks finale at 11 p.m. which will light up the night sky from the Gatlinburg Space Needle. The show is free to the public and guests will need to arrive early to find parking and avoid road closures.

The Globetrotters have visited the region several times over the last few years and mostly recently visited Knoxville in January 2023.