PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Sept. 18, 2008)?Pigeon Forge is gearing up for one of its biggest conventions of the year, a meeting of the South Atlantic Shrine Association, which will bring more than 4,000 registered participants and a huge parade to this Great Smoky Mountains resort community. Dates are Sept. 24-28.
³For most of the past 30 years, this event has been in Myrtle Beach, S.C., or Virginia Beach, Va. Our leadership wanted a mountain meeting this year, and Pigeon Forge and the Smokies were the choice,² said Wayne Burkett, director general of the seven-state South Atlantic region and a past potentate of Kerbela Temple in Knoxville.
The total visitor count will exceed the registered number because many Shriners bring family members. Burkett said the group¹s parade starts at 9 a.m. Sept. 27 (Saturday) and is expected to last more than three hours. Participants will stage themselves on Teaster Lane before parading north on the Parkway from Traffic Light #7 (the Old Mill area) to Traffic Light #5 (the Pigeon Forge Information Center).
More than 100 parade units will participate bands, floats, go-carts, motorcycles, golf carts, clowns, convertibles, walking units and more.
The Pigeon Forge meeting will attract Shriners from the South Atlantic region¹s seven states, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia, plus some from as far away as Indiana, Michigan and New York.
Imperial Potentate of the Shrine of North America Douglas Maxwell plans to attend, according to Burkett. The Shrine of North America has 191 temples, and 19 of them are in the South Atlantic region.
The Shrine of North America supports 22 children¹s hospitals, where no patient ever is charged for treatment, according to Burkett. The Music Road Hotel and Convention Center is the headquarters for the Shriners¹ Pigeon Forge convention. The meeting has been in Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg twice previously, 1992 and 1998, according to Burkett.
Visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com or by calling toll-free to 1-800-251-9100.