Archive for the ‘Spot News’ Category

Festive Times All Year in Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. – Pick a month, any month, and you’ll find a festival or special event in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

This resort town next to Great Smoky Mountains National Park really knows how to show you a good time.

Every year starts with a mid-January salute to its neighbor with eight days of free activity called Wilderness Wildlife Week. There are classes, seminars, photography workshops, mini-concerts and hikes into the park’s 800 square miles of nature at its best.

July 4 Fireworks over Pigeon Forge’s Old Mill

February’s big event is most unusual – a salute to cowboy poetry, western music and chuck wagon cooking called Saddle Up. In March, a softer side comes out for A Mountain Quiltfest.

The city and various businesses organize the festivals and events, and a big organizer is Dollywood.

The popular theme park punctuates its almost yearlong season with an international festival in spring, a fall festival for bluegrass music and barbeque, a Southern gospel music festival and then a spectacular Christmas celebration called A Smoky Mountain Christmas.

A Smoky Mountain Christmas actually is part of a citywide celebration called Pigeon Forge Winterfest that captures all manner of events from early November through the following February

The Titanic Museum attraction gets in on the fun with a January ice-carving competition, winter snowfalls across the bow of the museum (the building looks like the famous ship) and other programs. All of 2013, for instance, is marked as “The Year of the Titanic Children” and focuses on the 133 children on the famous voyage.

Every May, thousands of people turn out for Dolly’s Homecoming Parade, which honors hometown superstar Dolly Parton. It’s all very Norman Rockwell – youthful twirling teams, high school bands, equestrian units – except that Dolly herself rides in the first float.

Mixed in during other months are car shows devoted to hot rods and nostalgic classics, a knockout 4th of July concert and fireworks event, a huge autumn crafts fair and the Salute to Veterans Parade in November.

Information about all events is online at MyPigeonForge.com or by calling 800-251-9100.

Look! Up in the Sky!

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (October 2012) – A gigantic blue and green helium balloon has people all over Pigeon Forge pointing to the sky and admiring the city’s newest attraction.

It is Wonders of Flight, an addition to the science- and fun-filled WonderWorks attraction on the Parkway.

The Wonders of Flight, a helium-filled balloon 72-feet in diameter, rises silently behind WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

The Wonders of Flight balloon is 72 feet in diameter, and the gondola it lifts can carry up to 30 people for spectacular views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding counties. It is tethered to a 400-foot-long cable.

The captain says that on an especially clear day, the famous Cumberland Gap is visible on the horizon. That’s where Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia come together.

Aerophile, the world leader in tethered gas balloons, is the manufacturer. Its only other similar balloon in the Southeast is at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Other locations include China, France, Germany and Turkey.

“The ascents, by day or night, provide guests with an unmatched, 360-degree panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains,” said Jerome Giacomoni, Aerophile’s president. “In one single gaze, the entire breathtaking view can be seen from exceptional heights, including a unique opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the fall leaves.”

Wonders of Flight offers a spectacular view of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and great Smoky Mountains National Park at an elevation of 400 feet.

Giacomoni explains that the Wonders of Flight balloon is environmentally friendly and totally silent thanks to its permanently inflated helium envelope and a hydroelectric winch.

 

 

Dollywood Grabs Five Golden Ticket Awards

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (September 2012) – Dollywood received five 2012 Golden Ticket Awards, the top honor in the theme park industry.

The awards were first-time recognitions in three categories and repeats in two categories :

  • Best Food, beating out longtime winner Knoebels Amusement Resort
  • Friendliest park, upsetting 13-time winner Holiday World
  • Best New Ride for Wild Eagle, the country’s first wing-design coaster
  • Best Shows, Dollywood’s fourth consecutive win in this category
  • Best Christmas Event, Dollywood’s fifth consecutive win in this category

The awards are organized by Amusement Today magazine, and Dollywood was the host park for the ceremony this year.

Dolly Parton shows off Dollywood’s five Golden Ticket Awards for 2012

Dollywood namesake Dolly Parton attended the ceremony.

“I’m overwhelmed and overjoyed by the five Golden Ticket Awards that Dollywood won,” Parton said. “And to be there and accept all of the awards at Dollywood while we hosted the event just makes these wins even sweeter for me.”

Dollywood also ranked in five additional categories:

  • Best Park, third place
  • Best Waterpark for Dollywood’s Splash Country, fourth place;
  • Cleanest Park, second place
  • Best Water Ride for Dollywood’s Mountain Slidewinder; fourth place
  • Best Landscaping, fourth place

Golden Ticket Awards are the results of a detailed survey sent to a database of experienced and well-traveled amusement park fans around the world in balanced geographical regions.

Two Dollywood rides also were recognized during the awards event. The Wild Eagle coaster is the highest-placing new-for-2012 coaster on Amusement Today’s annual Best Steel Coaster list, while the park’s Thunderhead wooden coaster placed fourth on the Top 50 Best Wooden Coaster rankings.

National TV Puts Pigeon Forge in Spotlight

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (September 2012) – Pigeon Forge is getting a lot of love from three major broadcast networks.

ABC and NBC have put Pigeon Forge, Tenn., in the spotlight in recent weeks, and CBS will keep the string alive during the upcoming television season.

"Amazing Race" teammates Rob and Sheila Scheer

Pigeon Forge’s Rob and Sheila Scheer are ready for an around-the-world adventure on “The Amazing Race.”

ABC ‘s “Good Morning America” featured Dollywood’s new-design Wild Eagle roller coaster in a summer series of segments about thrill rides. Actor Cameron Mathison visited the popular theme park for a first-hand look and ride.

At $20 million, Wild Eagle is Dollywood’s biggest capital investment. It was the first winged coaster in the U.S., meaning that the passenger seats are on “wings” that stretch out from the coaster’s track rather than riding on top of it.

Over at NBC, a clogger from the Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Show in Pigeon Forge is part of a dance team that emerged from 75,000 auditioning acts to make it into the final rounds of “America’s Got Talent.”

Drake Elkin, who dances as part of the McCoy family, is part of an all-male clogging team called All That.

At CBS, a Pigeon Forge couple is about to compete on “The Amazing Race,” an around-the-world adventure that has won the Emmy Award for “Outstanding Reality-Competition Program” eight of the last nine years.

Rob Scheer, president of the company that owns the Great Smoky Mountain Lumberjack Feud, and his wife, Sheila, are one of 11 two-member teams. Scheer is a champion timber sports athlete. The series begins Sept. 30.

Titanic Plans Huge November Fireworks Show

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (August 2012) – If you liked the July 4 fireworks during Pigeon Forge’s Patriot festival, hang on until Nov. 22.

That’s the date when the Titanic Museum Attraction will light up the night sky with a major fireworks show that marks the end of the centennial year of the Titanic’s sinking.

Attraction owners say the year has been a tribute to the 2,208 people aboard the ship in 1912 and that the fireworks show will celebrate the lives and legacies of the ship’s passengers, crew and rescuers.

“We wanted to end the Titanic centennial year on a note of celebration and hope,” said John Joslyn, expedition leader of the first private exploration dive to the Titanic and co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attraction.

“We knew a fireworks show such as the one that helped open the museum in 2010 was the perfect way to provide a celebration in honor of the passengers and crew rivaling anything they could have hoped for if they had arrived safely in New York a century ago.”

After the fireworks show, the museum/attraction will renew its tradition of a snowfall from the ship’s bow Thanksgiving weekend and continuing every Saturday in December. Father Christmas, dressed in a style most familiar to the children aboard the Titanic in 1912, will visit on snow days.

Hollywood Wax Museum Has Fun with Ferrell Photo

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (August 2012) – Actor Will Ferrell generates a lot of laughs, and the Hollywood Wax Museum is using a Ferrell photo to gin up some more.

Museum employee “Hollywood Joseph” shot a photo of Ferrell at the premiere of “The Campaign” that practically begs for a caption. From that came a contest on Facebook that the museum is promoting on its Hollywood Joe blog.

ImageThe photo shows Ferrell in a crowd, gesturing with his left hand and with a curious expression on his face.

Contest entrants are encouraged to answer the question, “What the heck is Will Ferrell saying?”

The contest continues through Aug. 24, and the winner gets six tickets to any of the three Hollywood Wax Museum locations – Pigeon Forge, Branson, Mo., and Hollywood, Calif.

Ferrell is one of more than 100 personalities depicted at the Hollywood Wax Museum in Pigeon Forge, which opened earlier this year.

Veteran TV comedian Bob Nelson joins Comedy Barn cast

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (July 12, 2012) – Veteran stand-up comedian Bob Nelson, who has appeared on shows hosted by Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Regis Philbin and Merv Griffin, has a new performance home at the Comedy Barn in Pigeon Forge.

Nelson performs at 5 and 8 p.m. nightly except Mondays.

Nelson opened for Rodney Dangerfield for eight years and was featured in two of Dangerfield’s HBO showcases. He is also known for appearances on the “Bananas” comedy television show.

“He is one of the best comedians performing today, has great fans and is a very funny guy,” said David Fee, president and co-owner of the Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group.

Nelson was a theater major and did summer stock at Nassau Community College on Long Island, N.Y.

“I was always the class clown,” Nelson said. “I was always trying to make people laugh in different ways, and I did very physical Jerry Lewis-type of stuff. It was always in me – a gift from God.

“Right out of high school I was working as an amateur clown with circus acts doing juggling, trapeze and trampoline,” Nelson said. “I almost joined the circus but found I could make more money as an amateur clown.”

Red Skelton was Nelson’s mentor.

“I wanted to be a family comic and not do dirty material, and Red encouraged me at a time when the whole industry was tilted against conservatives. He told me, ‘You are a clown like me.’ He praised me for not cursing.”

Army Family Deploys to Pigeon Forge Before Afghanistan

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (July 2012) – An Army family facing a sixth deployment to a war zone got some special time together in Pigeon Forge, and their experience was captured as a half-hour show for the Great American Country (GAC) cable TV network.

“Operation Pigeon Forge: A Family Story” focuses on Staff Sgt. Gerald Britt, his wife Shasta and their children Gabe and Madison. It premiers July 12 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern and has 11 more airings later in the month.

Gerald has orders to Afghanistan this fall. He has been to Iraq three times, as well as to Kosovo and Bosnia. Shasta, a veteran herself, is a civilian employee of the Family Readiness Group at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida, assisting other military families with members overseas.

“Before this soldier deploys to Afghanistan, GAC deploys his family to Pigeon Forge,” said show host Nan Kelley, explaining the concept of the program.

The Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism partnered with GAC, which is available in 62 million households and online at GACTV.com, to salute the Britts.

GAC cameras tagged along with the Britts at Pigeon Forge attractions such as Dollywood, the Titanic Museum Attraction, Dixie Stampede, The Track and the Country Tonite show. The Lumberjack Feud dinner show plucked Gerald from the audience for an ax-throwing challenge. His marksmanship was solid.

The Britts’ vacation coincided with the annual Dolly Parton Homecoming Parade, and Pigeon Forge surprised them by building a float for them to ride on and receive the applause of thousands lining the parade route.

An even bigger surprise came when Dolly Parton greeted them before the parade and offered her personal thanks for their service.

“Families are hugely important to Pigeon Forge, and we are pleased that Pigeon Forge is hugely important to many families. We make memories that strengthen family bonds,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

Information about all aspects of Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com or by calling toll-free 1-800-251-9100.

 

Join a Ranger for Hikes in the Smokies

GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS NATIONAL PARK (July 2012) – The National Park Service is offering ranger-led, family-friendly hikes every Wednesday through Aug. 11.

The hikes encourage families to hike the park’s trails (there are 800 miles of trails in all), learn new skills, assist in trail stewardship and record their results.

The Little River Family Adventure Hike starts in the Elkmont area of the park. It covers five miles and takes about three hours. It is ranked “moderate” in difficulty and is on an unpaved gravel and dirt trail.

Participants should wear sturdy hiking shoes or boots and bring plenty of water and a lunch. For more information, visit the “Hike the Smokies” website: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/hike-the-smokies.htm

In addition to the weekly Wednesday hikes at Elkmont, there is a July 12 family hike at Schoolhouse Gap and a July 19 hike to Porters Flat.

The hikes are a part of a National Park Foundation grant funded through the Coca-Cola Foundation that expands the current “Hike the Smokies” and “Adopt a Trail” programs.

Dolly Becomes ‘Splash Woman’ for Coaster Announcement

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 2012) – Dollywood launched America’s first wing-design roller coaster, Wild Eagle, in March and now has announced another coaster addition. This one adds water.

It is RiverRush, Tennessee’s first water coaster, which will open in May 2013 at Dollywood’s Splash Country.

“You know me. I love making a big splash, and RiverRush is all that and a whole lot more!” Parton said, dressed as super hero “Splash Woman” at the coaster’s announcement.

RiverRush will be a hydromagnetic coaster with climbs, drops, twists and tight turns – just like a traditional land roller coaster – but you’ll need a swimming suit to ride it.

Four-passenger toboggan-style boats will zoom through a 1,175-foot-long track after making an initial climb of 237 feet. The first drop is at a 45-degree angle. It will be four stories tall and have a footprint of more than an acre.