The City of Knoxville is preparing for what has evolved into the busiest weekend of the year.
For starters, AAA of East Tennessee is predicting more travelers on I-40 and I-75 this Labor Day than in recent years. The annual AAA forecast suggests 647,488 Tennesseans will hit the road during the holiday, which starts on Thursday evening and runs through Monday. Nationally, the auto club predicts 34.1 million Americans will travel this weekend, setting a new post-recession high. For its annual survey, AAA estimates the number of travelers by how many people predict they will travel more than 50 miles from home.
On Saturday, the University of Tennessee kicks off its 2013 football season with a home opener against in-state challenger Austin Peay State University. While attendance for the home opener at the 102,455-seat Neyland Stadium has lagged in recent years, UT officials are hoping the debut of new head coach Butch Jones will help fill the seats. The game kicks off at 6:00 pm on Saturday night.
The city will experience its biggest influx of travelers on Sunday, when approximately 400,000 visitors will come to Knoxville for the annual Boomsday fireworks festival, billed as the largest Labor Day fireworks display in the country. For the first time since 2010, the fireworks will be launched from the Henley Street bridge. Construction crews began extensive repairs to the bridge in January of 2011 and expect to open it back up to traffic by Thanksgiving.