Loudon County residents were given plenty of opportunity to celebrate the Fourth of July on Saturday as parades went off without a hitch in Lenoir City and Loudon.

Under a clear blue sky, parade participants made their way down Lenoir City’s Broadway Street as families sat close together alongside the road. Some opted to stay in their vehicles.

Turnout appeared down for the parade that had at least 35 participants.

“You never want to cancel something that celebrates America, July 4, the freedom of living in America, so we always want to pay tribute to that somehow and then also to the veterans that continue to fight for us so that we can continue to be a free country,” Zack Cusick, Lenoir City Parks and Recreation Department program coordinator, said. “As much as possible we want to celebrate that much as we can.”

Before the parade, children were given the chance to speed down Broadway from C to Grand streets as part of the annual Firecracker Run.

Lenoir City resident Michele Pike watched her granddaughter, 9-year-old Grace Wear, participate for the second year in the run.

“She likes to run, it’s something to do on the Fourth of July to show our spirit for our country,” Pike said. “She likes to see some of her friends and stuff during the summer, too, running. I just think it’s a very nice event that parks and rec puts on every year.”

While the COVID-19 pandemic rages in other parts of the country, Pike had no concerns. She wanted to continue the four-year tradition of going to see the parade with her family.

“I just make sure that I keep myself far enough away from somebody,” she said. “I’m a high-risk person as it is with asthma and stuff and I just keep my distance from what I need to do. ... I like it that it shows a lot of the community. The fire (department), the life guards, the general (community). It shows a lot of community spirit.”

Loudon resident Shana Chrisman also brought her 10-year-old son, Jason, and 5-year-old daughter, Meagan, to run for the first time.

“We just love the parades,” she said. “I’m originally from New Orleans so we’re big into parades. We just love to be able to come out with the community, especially for the Fourth, to celebrate.”

Saturday marked the first time Knoxville resident Jennifer Kline had seen Lenoir City’s annual parade. Typically she would take her family, including her 6-year-old son, Curtis, to the Farragut parade, but this year was canceled for health concerns.

She still wanted to continue the family tradition and pass along the love of the Fourth of July to her son.

Kline, 26, has been going to parades for about 20 years.

“This makes it seem like July 4,” she said. “It just brings out the patriotic side of things.”

Loudon Mayor Jeff Harris said even though numbers seemed down at his city’s parade, he was happy to see all the smiling faces in attendance. He said it seemed a majority of attendees were staying within family units.

Loudon resident Rebecca Willis said she’s glad the parade wasn’t canceled because it gives residents an opportunity to thank community leaders.

“I know a lot of parades have been canceled in the area,” Willis said. “… Today is an important day, and this is a very good community here — a very small and loving community. We’re very excited to have this day. There’s a lot of political people in the parade, and I think it’s a good time to let them know what a great job they’re doing.”

Loudon resident Josh Hopkins said the parade is a family tradition.

“We’ve always done this on Fourth of July growing up,” he said. “… Everybody shows up, you know. You’ve got the Christmas and Fourth of July parades, and everybody comes out to gather. With everything going on in the world, it’s such a good gathering and good time to come out and see family and friends.”