Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta - Gatlinburg, Tenn.
Credit: Brian Swartz / Getty Images

Gatlinburg may not have held the first-ever Fourth of July parade, but for the last 38 years it has hosted the nation’s first parade each year. The annual procession kicks off at the stroke of midnight, and the festivities continue when daylight comes and the Gatlinburg River Raft Regatta begins, in which entrants compete to float any unmanned article of their choosing or construction down Little Pigeon River. Yes, the day ends with fireworks lighting up the city’s mountain skyline, but keep your eye on the prize and start building those regatta entries now - unless you’re entering the Trash (not hand-made) category of competition, in which case you’ve got some time to finalize your strategy.