PIGEON FORGE (WATE) – Friday was a day to celebrate Dolly Parton in Pigeon Forge. Her new Smoky Mountain Adventures dinner theater attraction opened, a new ride at Dollywood geared up for its first riders, and the entire town celebrated Parton with her annual homecoming parade.
Smoky Mountain Adventures opened Friday in what was formerly the Lumberjack Adventure theater on the parkway. The show features the tale of how Parton’s parents met and the rivalry between the Owens and the Partons, using acrobatics to tell the tale.
“We’ve got all kinds of people that have all kinds of these various circus-type skills. We got things like the Russian bar and wheel and we’ve got people they are doing Chinese poles,” said Bud Beasley, an actor performing in the show.
The show is designed to keep you on the edge of your seat while bringing it home with the message of “Smoky Mountain Strong.”
“I believe it is important, not just right now but always here in the Smokies and people all over the world will pull together and try to make this thing work out for all of us,” said Beasley.
Across town in Dollywood, the new Drop Line ride was open to the media Friday for a special preview. The ride officially opens to the public on Saturday. The ride lifts guests more than 20 stories above Dollywood’s Timber Canyon, giving riders a bird’s eye view of the Smokies. Then, in an instant, it drops you back down at speeds of more than 70 miles per hour.
“I think it’s an unbelievable view of the Smokies, and that thrill of the drop is really spectacular. It is something we do not have at the park,” said Dollywood spokesman Pete Owens.
Friday was capped off by the annual Dolly’s Homecoming Parade. The singer was the grand marshal. The parade went through the center of Pigeon Forge and along Parkway.
“Pigeon Forge is so appreciative of all that Dolly does for our community, and Dolly’s Homecoming Parade is our city’s way of saying ‘thanks’ to this remarkable woman,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism, which organizes the parade. “We also love giving Dolly’s many fans a chance to see her, too.”
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Organizers said there would be more than 130 floats, marching bands, vehicles, and organizations participating. Parton’s float will be a surprise theme.
Other participants in the parade included the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, a bagpiper from North Carolina, the Andy Griffith Rerun Watchers Club, twirling groups, cloggers, veterans and more.
Earlier in the day, Parton helped hand out the final checks to recipients of her My People Fund for people impacted by the Gatlinburg and Sevier County wildfires. The remaining $3 million in the fund will be donated to the Mountain Tough fund. She said over the next three years, the fund will be used to take care of special needs in Sevier County.
National Park, the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, a bagpiper from North Carolina, the Andy Griffith Rerun Watchers Club, twirling groups, cloggers, veterans and more.