The Man Behind the Parade: Mack Riddle

The Man Behind the Parade: Mack Riddle

One of Kingsport’s summer highlights, the Mack Riddle American Legion Fourth of July Parade, is coming up soon. The parade will kick off at 10 am on East Center Street in front of the Renaissance Center and march down Fort Henry Drive to Memorial Park. The parade has been a staple in the city of Kingsport for decades thanks to Mack Riddle.

Mule drawn Kingsport Brick float in Kingsport's first 4th of July parade, 1912.
Mule drawn float, 1912.

The Fourth of July parades were rather sporadic until 1955 when Mack Riddle organized the first annual parade. “Mr. Fourth of July” spent over forty five years organizing, planning and designing the parade as chairman of the Fourth of July Parade. Mack Riddle died in 1999 but the annual parade bears his name as a tribute to the man behind the parade.

"Mr. Fourth of July": Mack Riddle, 1988.
"Mr. Fourth of July" Mack Riddle, 1988.

Another Side of Mack Riddle:  The “Frank and Mack Show”

Mack Riddle may have been known as “Mr. Fourth of July” but he was also known for being one half of the locally famous “Frank and Mack Show.” The vaudeville style show featured comedy skits and musical performances by Frank Taylor and Mack Riddle.

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Classmates at Dobyns-Bennett, Frank and Mack competed against each other to determine who the funniest person was. This rivalry started their lifelong friendship and professional relationship that started in 1932 when they put together a comedy skit. Another classmate and friend, the late Congressman Jimmy Quillen, became their first publicist and booking agent.

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Tent for the Frank and Mack Show at the American Legion Carnival, 1940.

The “Frank and Mack Show” became a staple at the American Legion Carnival and the duo performed at a variety of events in and around Kingsport through the years.

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Photo of performers on the “Frank and Mack Show” stage, undated.

Frank and Mack entertained area residents for decades until Frank Taylor passed away in 1974.

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