To officially launch the Great Smoky Mountains National Park quarter, the first new America the Beautiful Quarter this year, the United States Mint and National Park Service will host a ceremony for the public on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at 10 a.m. Eastern Time in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
A coin exchange will follow the ceremony so attendees can trade cash for $10 rolls of this newest coin.
Since 2010, the U.S. Mint has released twenty coins in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program, and the Great Smoky Mountains quarter marks the 21st in the 56-coin series. Four more quarters will launch later in the year, each honoring another national site of interest.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in the Southern Appalachian mountain range, and it receives more than 9 million visitors annually. With that level of popularity, the new quarter commemorating the national site is sure to be a favorite in the series.
Great Smoky Mountains Quarter Launch
Technically, the Great Smoky Mountains quarter launch timeline starts on Monday, Jan. 27, when the Mint puts bags and rolls of the coins on sale, and the Federal Reserve Bank system officially starts to distribute them into circulation via depository institutions. Many collectors buy new quarters directly from the Mint since finding them locally can often take many months.
On Tuesday, Jan. 28 at 5 p.m. Eastern Time, the U.S. Mint will host a free coin forum, as a prequel to the big ceremony. The forum is an event where the public can go to ask U.S. Mint officials any question about the Mint and U.S. coins. It will be held at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park’s Sugarlands Visitor Center, 1420 Little River Road, on the outskirts of Gatlinburg, and the coin forum is estimated to last about an hour.
Then finally, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, hundreds of local school children and adults will meet at the Mills Auditorium in the Gatlinburg Convention Center at 234 Historic Nature Trail, Gatlinburg, at 10 a.m. ET to witness firsthand the grand event and ceremonial release of the Great Smoky Mountains quarter.
What to Expect at the Great Smoky Mountains Quarter Ceremony
David Croft, U.S. Mint Acting Associate Director for Manufacturing, will preside over this launch ceremony, and Pedro Ramos, Great Smoky Mountains National Park Acting Superintendent, will give one of the key speeches on behalf of the park.
Most quarter release ceremonies are over within 30 to 40 minutes, and in that short time, local dignitaries and a special performance or two keep the crowd entertained. Special guests invited to this U.S Mint-sponsored event include:
- Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development
- Harlow Sumerford, East Tennessee Field Director for Governor Bill Haslam
- Jane Chedester, Field Representative for US Senator Lamar Alexander
- Jane Jolley, Field Director for US Senator Bob Corker
- Bill Snodgrass, District Director for U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, M.D.
Free, shiny new quarters will be given to children in attendance, and immediately after the ceremony, everyone can exchange cash for $10 rolls of the coins, courtesy of one of the local banks.
Parking for the Quarter Ceremony
The Gatlinburg Convention Center is a large venue in the heart of the city. Two paid parking lots are across the street from the convention center and more are within walking distance a few blocks away.
Details for the city’s parking garages and trolley service can be found here, http://www.ci.gatlinburg.tn.us/parkingdept/parking.htm.