LAKE JUNALUSKA — While July Fourth festivities at Lake Junaluska aren’t back to full-tilt yet, its statewide accolades as a July Fourth destination are showing through again following last year’s suspension due to COVID.
Aside from the sheer number of events at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center over the long weekend, the line-up is diverse enough to appeal to all ages and interests.
Three of the events are new traditions borne out of social distancing last year when the normal celebrations weren’t possible, and are on tap again this year — a decorated kayak and canoe flotilla water parade, the release of floating wish lanterns, and a porch decorating contest.
Other activities include a dramatic reading of the Declaration of Independence, outdoor music, tennis and golf tournaments, and a performance by internationally acclaimed bluegrass group Balsam Range.
The capstone, of course, is the spectacular fireworks display over the water at dark on July Fourth itself. To enter the decorating porch contest, tennis or golf tournament, or flotilla parade, go to lakejunaluska.com/july4th and scroll down to the calendar of events.
Here is a line-up of July Fourth activities at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center this weekend.
Friday, July 2
• 8:30 a.m.: Morning Devotion by the lake at Harrell Center Porch.
• 7 p.m.: Clogging Performance outdoors at the lakeside tent featuring the J Creek Cloggers.
• 8:45 p.m.: Floating Wish Lanterns released across the Lake. This new tradition began last year during COVID, as a way to honor loved ones during a time when coming together with friends and family in person wasn’t possible. Staff and volunteers will place the lanterns on the water starting at 8:45 p.m. The lanterns are biodegradable and will be gathered from the lake after the event as soon as conditions allow.
To have a loved one's name placed on a lantern, visit lakejunaluska.com/lanterns. The $35 donation for a lantern supports Lake Junaluska’s mission as a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body.
Saturday, July 3
• 8:30 a.m.: Morning Devotion by the lake at Harrell Center Porch
• All-day: Closest to the Pin Golf Competition at the Lake Junaluska Golf Course.
• 9-11 a.m.: Round Robin Tennis Tournament.
• 11 a.m.: Decorated Kayak/Canoe/Paddleboard Flotilla Contest. This tradition was launched last year as a COVID-alternative to the traditional July Fourth parade. Anyone can join in the fun by decorating your watercraft with patriotic garb, then meet at the boat launch by the pool.
Spectators are invited to gather along the Colonnade (between the pool and the Rose Walk) to see the patriotic flotilla paddle by.
• 11 a.m. - Porch Decorating Contest.
• 5 p.m. - Storytime for Kids at the Colonnade (the columned area between the pool and Rose Walk.)
• 7:30 p.m. - Balsam Range concert at Stuart Auditorium. Tickets are $23. Purchase online or by calling 800-965-9324.
Sunday, July 4
• 9 a.m.: Summer Worship Service at the amphitheater below the Lake Junaluska Cross with the Rev. Sharon Austin. Memorial Chapel will be open for prayer from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
• noon-8 p.m.: A special barbecue buffet will be served at the Lakeside Bistro on the third floor of The Terrace Hotel, including pulled pork, coleslaw, baked beans, salad bar, corn on the cob, green beans, mac & cheese, pasta salad, and assorted desserts including fresh fruit and fruit cobbler. Dine-in or walk through the line and make a to-go plate. $18/adult and $7/child 12 and younger.
• 3 p.m.: Reading of the Declaration of Independence by Ashley Calhoun at the Shackford Hall Porch. Shackford Hall is the stately, white-columned building that sits on the hillside visible above the pool.
• 8 p.m.: Blue Ridge Big Band will perform a free concert at the lakeside tent beside Stuart Auditorium. Comprised of professional musicians, music educators, hobbyists and music majors, the band performs a wide selection of genres and styles in a relaxed, informal setting where attendees are invited to listen, dance and sing along.
• 9:30 p.m.: A free community fireworks display on July 4 will begin at approximately 9:30 p.m. Fireworks will be shot from the dam and reflected across the lake creating a mesmerizing spectacle.