We spend pretty much every 4th of July in a little NC mountain community called Balsam. Nestled in-between Waynesville (home to The Swag, a Nashville favorite) and Sylva, on HWY 19/23, the 4th always seems to be straight out of Southern Living Magazine. Actually, as under the radar as Balsam is to Nashville, let me amend that to be straight out of Garden and Gun magazine.
When the 4th hits, you can dress very appropriately (as we did the year we spent the 4th at Sea Island) or you can go all-out-tacky. Balsam calls for all-out-tacky dressing and people hunt all year for the tackiest of all. Next, you decorate your car as wildly as you possibly can. Streamers, flags, horns, balloons, cans dragging behind. If you think it might make someone’s smile just a little broader, then on your car it goes! You finalize the whole thing with candy to throw to the few people on the mountain that are not actually IN the parade.
Everyone lines up in the meadow, next to the horse barn, at 1:00. Any earlier would disturb the hangovers felt by all after the community wide July 3rd cocktail party held at the most beautiful house, with a 270 degree view of The Great Smoky Mountains. This cocktail party is where the nice and appropriate patriotic wear is seen!
The 4th of July parade winds through the mountain community at about 10 miles per hour. My favorite spectators are inevitably the 75+ year old ladies in their high-school sparkly baton twirling outfits, in red, white and blue, and yes, they have their batons and a synchronized routine to boot! Another lady sings next to them and we all wave hoping they will be back next year. The road takes everyone over a 100 year old bridge that clearly states that driving over is at your own risk. 75% of the cars ramble over. We however, turn around. I just won’t risk it!
The parade ends at The Balsam Mountain Inn (formerly owned by TN native Merrily Teasley who also previously owned and restored the Edgeworth Inn in Monteagle, TN). Current Balsam Mountain Inn owners Kim and Sharon Shailer, provide a free lunch and concert for all parade participants. Hot dogs and BBQ with local brewedHeinzelmännchen Brewerybeer sets the perfect mood to sit and listen to every single patriotic song you could ever imagine sung in an opera style, by a sweet elderly lady who is given the stage each 4th. She needs to be a YouTube sensation…and we may just work on that this 4th.
The fireworks take place at 9:00 in the cleared meadow. Many a 4th we are wearing jackets and jeans as it gets pretty chilly at 3,600 feet above sea level!
We celebrate with a huge family get together of about 30 of our closest and dearest. My Dad then has our own personal fireworks display in which he inevitably burns a hole in his shirt…or face….each year. But, it always provides a lesson to my kids about the dangers of fireworks. This lesson hits home when we are forced to occasionally take cover under the picnic table! Ahhhhh, family fun!
I love the 4th of July. If you want to experience a 4th of July Balsam style, make a reservation at The Balsam Mountain Inn and join us! It’s a great Inn to visit anytime of year, with an award winning restaurant and a huge porch just full of rocking chairs waiting to be used.