The streets of Maryville were a sea of red, white and blue on Sunday, June 14, as the county’s first Proud To Be an American Parade and Festival filled downtown with marchers, children, dignitaries and -- the VIPs -- the veterans.
Organizer Carol Russell said she felt a bit overwhelmed before the parade started as she gathered children at the Blount County Chamber of Commerce to pass out red, white and blue clothing for them to wear.
“I was being pulled in all directions and was coming apart at the seams,” she said. “It was like that for an hour and a half. I was overwhelmed. Then the parade got ready to start, and I said, ‘We did best we could.’ All the big problems got worked out.”
Russell said that when she stepped out of the Chamber of Commerce to go down to where the parade started on Church Avenue, she saw the children in their red, white and blue outfits preparing to walk in the parade.
“When I walked out and saw that sea of red white and blue, it was running down the street like a river,” she said. “It was amazing!”
Russell said she has been blessed by the response to the event. “I am drinking from the saucer because my cup is overflowed,” she said.
Russell organized the event in honor of her son Cody who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’ve not had any negative responses whatsoever except that water could have been colder or there should have been food there,” she said. “Making people feel appreciated for their service to our country was what the day was all about. I couldn’t have asked for it to go better.”
Russell said she got a letter from a retired “full bird” colonel who served as a nurse and attended the parade. She thanked Russell for organizing the event. “She said, ‘I cried halfway through the parade. I loved seeing the vets. They are the ones I got up at 4 in the morning for 25 years for.’”
Russell was full of thanks for all who helped make the day possible and wanted to say a special thank you to the following individuals, companies and organizations for their support:
Woodmen of the World, Mayor Jerry Cunningham, the City of Alcoa, the City of Maryville, Alcoa Tenn Federal Credit Union, Hackney Foods, Alcoa, Inc., Blount Memorial Hospital, Denso Manufacturing, Knoxville Metropolitan Airport Authority, Blount Farmers Co-op, Ernie’s & Nina’s, Butler Wrecker Service, Ogle’s Auto, C & D Tires, Lowe’s, Wal-Mart, Allison’s Catfish, Murrell’s Tire Center, Pilot Oil, AAA, Aubrey’s Restaurant, Ross the Boss, Mayfield Dairy, O’Charley’s, Ted’s Auto Detailing, Texas Roadhouse, the University of Tennessee Football program, the Knoxville Ice Bears, Dixie Stampede, Ripley’s Aquarium, Pilot Oil, Charles West Chevrolet, Buffalo Wild Wings, U.S. Cellular, Gracie’s Restaurant, Randy Kington, Shoney’s, Cracker Barrel, Chili’s, TVA Employee’s Credit Union, Office Depot, Starbuck’s Coffee, Food City, Chick-Fil-A, McAllister’s, Beef O’Brady’s, Applebee’s, Puleo’s Grille and New Providence Lodge No.128, Lambert Acres Golf Course and Royal Oaks Golf Course.