Special happenings planned at Chimney Rock on the 4th of July

North Carolina launched its state parks adventure in 1916, responding to citizens who wanted to preserve Mount Mitchell’s majestic forest. Upon North Carolina’s purchase of 534 rugged acres, Mount Mitchell became one of the nation’s first state parks. The system has since grown to nearly 230,000 acres of the state’s most precious landscape visited by more than 17 million people each year.

Photo circa 1920's, courtesy of Chimney Rock State Park

Photo circa 1920’s, courtesy of Chimney Rock State Park

Happenings are planned at all NC state parks, and Chimney Rock has a variety of activities scheduled throughout the year. But, the major centennial event at Chimney Rock State Park will take place on July 4, and everyone is invited to attend.

As North Carolina was creating its first state park, three brothers were also dedicating their new park in Hickory Nut Gorge. On July 4, 1916, Chimney Rock was dedicated by Dr. Lucius B. Morse and the first American flag was raised on the Rock. This year, exactly 100 years later, a special ceremony will take place as the North Carolina state flag will join Old Glory on the top of the “Rock” for its centennial birthday. The flag dedication will begin at the 8:30am on the top parking lot near the base of the Chimney. State Park superintendent James Ledgerwood, along with other local speakers, will open the festivities with a short history of the Park followed by a hike up the Outcroppings trail to the Sky Lounge. Once on the “Rock,” color guard will, for the first time, raise the North Carolina state flag under the American flag to signify that North Carolina State Parks is prepared to continue to protect the park and its natural resources for the next 100 years and beyond.

The band Vintage Vinyl will play their rendition of the National Anthem followed by a short patriotic concert and free birthday cupcakes as long as they last.

State Park Rangers will be on hand until 4:30pm to share historical photos and articles about the Park, including a display on the 1916 flood that washed out the original Park bridge soon after the dedication. Guests will be able to continue their walk through history by a taking a self-guided hike along the Outcroppings trail where historical pictures of the Park will also be on display. A limited number of tickets will be available at the Ranger’s exhibit table for interested guests to take a Behind the Scenes tour of the elevator at different times during the day.

Around 6pm, as the color guard retrieves the flags, guests can take part in a toast to the next 100 years. The two flags will be then be placed in the Park’s historical archives and saved for future generations.

The centennial of NC State Parks is more than just celebrating turning 100. This is an opportunity to bring awareness of the importance of protecting and preserving our precious natural resources and to encourage families to reconnect with nature and learn more about our environment,” said James.

Make plans to come early for this historic event. Gates will open at 7:30am and admission fees will be waived for the first 100 cars (no buses and RVs) that enter the Park before 8:30a.m.

The celebration will continue later in Chimney Rock Village. From 8:30 to 9:30 p.m., everyone is invited to gather along the Rocky Broad River behind the Old Rock Café for free s’mores and campfire stories with Park Superintendent James Ledgerwood. Thanks to our North Carolina State Park System, these special areas will be preserved for everyone to enjoy for 100 S’more years, the theme for the year-long anniversary.

Go to chimneyrockpark.com for additional details on the 4th of July centennial celebration.

Each of 41 state park units will hold a family-friendly event this year. Go to http://www.ncparks.gov/100/centennial-events for a complete list of State Park centennial events.