PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – The calendar says it’s summer, but Dollywood is already preparing for Christmas – five months away. Workers there get started in the middle of summer every year to make sure the millions of lights are up in time.
It’s peak season for Dollywood with people breaking out the shorts and tank tops to beat the heat while they enjoy the rides, but if you look closely, you might see a hint of Christmas in July.
“It’s hard to think of that in July, but we’re getting ready for Christmas right now!” said Dollywood spokesman Wes Ramey.
The Christmas lights are going up.
“I know it’s July and I know it’s hot, but in order to get this park done by when we open for Christmas, we have to start now,” said Andrea Fontana, lighting coordinator.
With four million lights to be stretched and stapled throughout the park, trees to go up and decorations to make it a holly jolly Dollywood, there’s no time to spare.
It’s a very detailed work. They’ve got to figure out how they’re going to run it. It’s like a puzzle and that’s the hardest part – figuring out how to run it because you’ve got to figure out how not to double back and how not to have a lot of lights left over,” said Fontana.
They try to make changes throughout the park every year, and the Showstreet area is one of the places that takes the most work because it’s the first and last place visitors see, so they want it to make an impression. This year it’s going to be known as “Snowstreet.” You can expect to see a lot of blues, whites and icicles mixed in.
“It really is very impressive to come through the gates for the first time, four million Christmas lights throughout the entire park. So the amount of time that our crew puts into making sure every intricate detail is taken care of is so amazing and it really pops when you walk into the park and see it,” said Ramey.
Right now it’s all about summer with the Great American Summer Festival and there’s one more festival to go before the Christmas lights come on for the winter season, but on October 31 the park closes and all the fall decorations are pulled out. That leaves one week to put the finishing touches on the winter wonderland.
Workers end up spending months decking the halls of Dollywood. The lights will go on for Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival November 8 through January 3. Once the festival ends, it will take through March to get all the lights down.