Posts Tagged ‘Great Smoky Mountains National Park’

Alcatraz East Crime Museum’s Unabomber Exhibit Teaches Guests Technique That Led To Arrest

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (July 31, 2017) –The media buzz surrounding the new eight-part television series on the Discovery Channel, Manhunt: Unabomber, has led to renewed interest in the investigation that ended with the arrest of Theodore Kaczynski, known as the Unabomber. The ongoing fascination in this case is understandable considering the randomness of the targets and anonymous killings that left the public and law enforcement perplexed and apprehensive for years.  His bombs were untraceable and Kaczynski even planted clues to divert law enforcement in their investigation.

“Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, is one of our most popular exhibits at Alcatraz East,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer. “Knowing the details about what went into capturing criminals like Kaczynski helps us understand and appreciate the persistence of law enforcement to solve a case.”

Behind the headlines there are things that people today may not realize about the Ted Kaczynski, who remains in a high security prison in Colorado. He is extremely intelligent. In grade school, his IQ tests were so high that he was able to skip two grades. He was educated at Harvard University and received his PhD at the University of Michigan. In 1967, he was hired as an assistant professor at the University of California, Berkeley, becoming the youngest professor they had hired.

The manhunt for the Unabomber is considered to be the FBI’s most expensive case to solve. Multiple agencies joined efforts to provide a total of 150 investigators, analysts, and others who worked on this case for 17 years. During that time, Kaczynski’s homemade bombs killed three people and injured 23.

Kaczynski’s ultimate capture came after the FBI, The New York Times and The Washington Post came together in agreement to publish the Unabomber’s manifesto. On September 19, 1995, The Washington Post printed the now famous 35,000 word essay where he explained his motives and views on the ills of modern society. The Unabomber’s writing style was recognized by family members, who, after investigating on their own, sadly realized that their findings had to be reported. In February 1996, the FBI was contacted by David Kaczynski, noting the similarities in the manifesto to the writings and philosophy of his older brother Ted. A linguistic analysis examined previous writings by Ted Kaczynski and determined that he was, in fact, the author of the manifesto, ultimately leading to his arrest. The critical technique used by investigators, called forensic linguistics, proved that the FBI had made the right decision to publish the manifesto.

A Unabomber exhibit can be seen at Alcatraz East Crime Museum, with items from his cabin, including his passport photos, a scale with Kaczynski’s handwritten calibration notes, which he used to calculate postage to mail his packages, and a Bible with his handwritten notes.

“This display shares with our visitors details about this case that aren’t as readily known. It also allows them to see the importance of the public working with law enforcement, and agencies pooling resources to solve crimes,” explains Janine Vaccarello, COO of the museum.

Today, the Unabomber is 75-years-old, and remains in ADX Florence, a prison located in Florence, Colorado, where he is serving eight life sentences with no possibility of parole. There, he is locked in his cell 23 hours per day.

Those interested in learning more about the case should be sure to tune in to the Discovery series on August 1, 2017.

Alcatraz East officially joined the ranks of fun and family friendly Sevier County options on December 16, 2016. The new crime museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. Guests can also enjoy free parking available at The Island during their visit.

The museum has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit www.alcatrazeast.com.

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CONTACT:

Cher Murphy

Cher@chermurphypr.com

571.263.2128

Sources:

FBI. The Unabomber. https://archives.fbi.gov/archives/news/stories/2008/april/unabomber_042408

NY Times. Unabomber’s kin collects reward… http://www.nytimes.com/1998/08/21/us/unabomber-s-kin-collect-reward-of-1-million-for-turning-him-in.html?mcubz=0

Washington Post. The Unambomber Trial: The Manifesto. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/unabomber/manifesto.text.htm

 

Explore Rare Crime Artifacts from Tennessee, Across the Country at Alcatraz East Crime Museum

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (July 2017) –Those living in and visiting the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge, Tennessee area will find a wide range of rare crime and law enforcement artifacts on display at the new Alcatraz East Crime Museum. The variety of objects on display offer an up close and personal look at the stories of some of the most notorious people and crimes in American and Tennessee history, located practically in your own backyard.

“For those looking for something new, different, and interesting, Alcatraz East Crime Museum is the perfect place to visit,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East. “Our guests enjoy learning about infamous crimes, the people involved, and how they can help prevent crime themselves. There’s something for everyone at the museum, from children learning about safety tips to adults seeing how good their aim is.”

The museum is the home to artifacts, which include firearms, CSI equipment, prison art, and automobiles, come from hundreds of justice and law enforcement divisions nationwide, including several from the state of Tennessee. This includes Tennessee police badges, the polygraph machine used on Martin Luther King Jr. assassin James Earl Ray, items belonging to outlaw Jesse James, confiscated moonshine stills, a display on Dr. William M. Bass of the Body Farm, and the museum’s newest addition, the original CBC (super glue) machine and patent, designed to lift fingerprints from bodies, invented by Sevier County native Arthur M. Bohanan. One of the centerpieces of the new museum is Tennessee’s electric chair, “Old Smokey,” that was used in 125 executions from 1916-1960.

Additionally, the museum features numerous Tennessee stories, such as the Scopes Monkey Trial, legendary lawman Sheriff Buford Pusser, Machine Gun Kelly’s Memphis capture, local presidents Andrew Jackson and Andrew Johnson, and the shootings in Chattanooga. The collection also includes prison art from the Tennessee State Prison, leatherwork from the Brushy Mountain State Prison, a Sevier County Sheriff’s Office patrol car, and a Pigeon Forge Police uniform. There are also rotating temporary exhibits, currently including one on wildlife trafficking, which explores how species, including local black bears, are affected by poaching and what citizens can do to help address the problem.

“Whether your interests are to see the famous O.J. Simpson white Bronco or the Natalee Holloway dedication, there is a wide variety of stories to explore,” states Vaccarello, “Visitors from across the country come to visit the museum and always find something that is personal to them or their state; Alcatraz East Crime Museum has quickly become a must-see attraction!”

Alcatraz East officially joined the ranks of fun and family friendly Sevier County options on December 16, 2016. The new crime museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. Guests can also enjoy free parking available at The Island during their visit.

The museum has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit www.alcatrazeast.com.

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CONTACT:
Cher Murphy
Cher@chermurphypr.com
571-263-2128

O.J. Bronco Displayed at Alcatraz East in Pigeon Forge 22 Years Later

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (June 6, 2017) – The anniversary of the scene made famous when 95 million people tuned in to watch O.J. Simpson flee the police in a white Bronco is quickly approaching. June 17, 1994 is a date many recall because of the news he made that day, having been accused of killing his ex-wife and her friend. Rather than turn himself in, as ordered by police, the former football star fled with cameras rolling and millions watching. Today, that infamous white 1993 Ford Bronco is on display Alcatraz East Crime Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Although the vehicle has been largely out of the public eye for two decades, it came back into the public eye in 2016 with the popularity of the shows “O.J.: Made in America” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson.”

“We are fortunate to have this piece of history in our collection,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East, “It’s something that many of us watched and remember, as it sparked so many conversations that influenced our views. This case was important for so many aspects of law enforcement from police procedures to DNA.”

It is estimated that 150 million people tuned into the verdict in the Simpson trial in 1995 where he was acquitted. In 2008, Simpson was sentenced to 33 years in prison for armed robbery, where he remains, but is eligible for parole later this year.

“This is a part of our country’s history that millions are interested in,” states Vaccarello, “Visitors are coming to the museum just to see the infamous Bronco and our other Simpson artifacts.  There’s nothing quite like seeing such an iconic piece first-hand.”

The Bronco was kept hidden in a garage between Las Vegas and California for years but was always kept in running condition and preserved in the same condition as it was in 1994. Simpson’s previous sports manager, Mike Gilbert, worked directly with the museum to handle the preservation of this important piece of crime history.

“When I was working with ESPN on the documentary ‘O.J.: Made in America,’ I knew there would be an increased curiosity surrounding this case,” says Michael Gilbert, co-owner of the vehicle and Simpson’s former manager. “Not only would people learn details they never heard, but there would also be a new generation learning about it for the first time.  This partnership with Alcatraz East has been important to me. I wanted the Bronco in a place where it would be protected, as well as be part of a bigger story- a part of history.”

Alcatraz East officially opened December 16, 2016. The new crime museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

The 25,000 square foot museum is designed with a jail façade, has a star-studded board of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.alcatrazeast.com.

 

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction will be located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit www.alcatrazeast.com.

 

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CONTACT:

Cher Murphy

Cher@chermurphypr.com

571-263-2128

The Ripken Experience Hits Home Run for Season One in Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 24, 2017) – Marking its first anniversary in the Smoky Mountains, The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge is batting a thousand with baseball fans and city officials alike.

Since opening its doors in March 2016, more than 800 youth baseball teams and 70 high school softball teams have taken the fields at The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge for competition in 30 tournaments. In total, more than 12,000 players and coaches have traveled to play ball on fields that offer unobstructed views of the Great Smoky Mountains, with an additional 600 teams expected to travel to the complex for competition this summer.

“Not only did thousands of players, coaches and their families enjoy The Ripken Experience, but they also took advantage of our family-friendly vacation destination, which resulted in visitor spending of $30 million in Pigeon Forge,” said Eric Brackins, Pigeon Forge assistant city manager.

The appeal of Pigeon Forge as a family vacation destination was a major reason the city built the $22.5 million complex and contracted with Ripken Baseball to operate it.

In its first year, participants traveled to Pigeon Forge from 25 states and Canada, hailing from as far away as Alaska, California, Massachusetts, and Texas. Other states represented are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“America’s favorite pastime, baseball, and Pigeon Forge are a perfect combination,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge has given many folks a reason to visit Pigeon Forge for the first time, and once they see all that we have to offer, they want to return year after year.”

The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge youth complex is located on a ridge above Pigeon Forge. Each field borrows its design inspiration from current and former ballparks highlighting the professional player progression from the Minor to Major Leagues, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

The others are Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va., the oldest park in the Appalachian League; Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., known as “Little Fenway”; Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., a filming location for the “42” movie about Jackie Robinson; Winston-Salem Ballpark in N.C.; and Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge hosts tournaments nine months out of the year and offers year-round branded events in its 14,000-square-foot clubhouse. Tournaments are free to spectators, and parking is free at the complex.

Visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at MyPigeonForge.com and toll-free at 800-251-9100. To learn more Ripken Baseball and for The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge tournament schedule, visit RipkenBaseball.com.

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Media Contacts:

Trish McGee for the Pigeon Forge Dept. of Tourism

tmcgee@bohanideas.com

615-327-1189 ext. 327

 

Katy Ford for The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge

katy@maroonpr.com

443-864-4246

 

Visiting Pigeon Forge? 5 Things Everyone Should Know About Alcatraz East

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (May 23, 2017) – Each year, around 10 million people visit the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. Whether vacationing with their children or enjoying time on their own, most are searching for unforgettable memories while visiting the area. One place that should be at the top of everyone’s list is Alcatraz East Crime Museum, a new attraction on the Parkway that provides both an educational and entertaining time, and includes information and activities for the whole family.

“We’ve had an amazing response since opening our doors in December,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East, “We have something for all ages, and most families spend 2-3 hours going through the exhibits. Guests walk away saying they knew they would love it, but it was better than expected, and that makes us feel very proud.”

While visitors to the area enjoy taking a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains while visiting this vacation destination, Alcatraz East offers a break from the outdoor activities. Here are 5 things everyone should know about Alcatraz East Crime Museum when visiting the Pigeon Forge area:

1   America’s Favorite Subject. With all the movies and TV shows related to the topic of crime, this is a must see. The museum features five themes that give visitors a glimpse into notorious crime history, forensic science, law enforcement, our justice system and pop culture. There are over 100 interactives throughout the museum, providing visitors with a hands-on experience.

2   It’s Not About Alcatraz. Although it’s part of the name and the famous prison inspired this attractionAlcatraz East is a crime museum, featuring an in depth look at American crime history, with artifacts from different eras and topics. The one-of-kind building was designed as a combination of Tennessee’s first state prison from 1898, and guard towers inspired by the Alcatraz lighthouse in California. The two-story building offers over 25,000 square feet of exhibit space.

3   One-of-a-Kind Artifacts. From white-collar crimes to Old West gunslingers, the museum features original artifacts from Jesse James to Whitey Bulger. Things to watch for include the famous O.J. Simpson chase white Bronco, John Dillinger’s death mask, Al Capone’s rosary, a submachine gun from the movie Scarface, Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle. Tennessee is well represented, with objects such as the Old Smoky electric chair and moonshine stills as well as notable Dr. William Bass, highlighting his achievements- which advanced forensic anthropology.

4   Interact with the Museum. Kids (and their parents) can have fun and learn at the same time through the museum’s Top Detective Challenge. Follow clues throughout the museum to solve the crime of a stolen artifact, and receive a prize if you crack the case! There is also an opportunity for parents and kids to enjoy the thrill of The Heist Laser Maze (think Thomas Crown Affair!).

5   Temporary Exhibits. Beginning mid-May, Alcatraz East debuted the first of its temporary exhibit programs, which will be an annual rotation in two areas of the museum. Through April 2018, “Ivory, Tortoise Shell & Fur: The Ugly Truth About Wildlife Trafficking will reveal how endangered species are effected by poaching and what the public can do to help end the practice.

“Every year, families make lifetime memories here in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area,” states Vaccarello, “We are happy to now be a part of those memories, giving them a look at history, crime prevention, while having an interactive experience.”

Alcatraz East officially opened December 16, 2016. The new crime museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

The 25,000-square-foot museum is designed with a jail façade, has a star-studded board of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit: www.alcatrazeast.com.

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction will be located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit www.alcatrazeast.com.

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CONTACT:

Cher Murphy

Cher@chermurphypr.com

571-263-2128

Dollywood Foundation pledges at least $3 million from My People Fund to the Mountain Tough Recovery Team  

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Friday, May 5, 2017) – The Dollywood Foundation administered the final distribution from the My People Fund on Thursday with recipients noticing an extra surprise when they received the check.

Thanks to fundraising efforts, Dollywood Foundation officials were able to provide a $5,000 check to each family as they work to recover from the Smoky Mountain wildfires which occurred last November. Beginning last December, the My People Fund provided $1,000 each month to Sevier County families whose primary residences were completely destroyed due to the fires.

In total, recipients received $10,000 as a hand-up to help start their rebuilding efforts following the fire. The fund, which was established by Dolly Parton, The Dollywood Company, Parton’s dinner theaters and The Dollywood Foundation, was supported by contributions from across the country, as well as donations made through the Smoky Mountains Rise telethon which took place in early December.

“The My People Fund has been a great success,” said Parton. “I want to thank my team, the Dollywood Foundation, my friends in the music business and the thousands of people from all over the country who opened both their pocketbooks and their hearts to help us.

“Over the last five months, we’ve given nearly 900 families $5,000 to help them recover. Yesterday, we had our last distribution and I went over to The LeConte Center to say thanks to all the volunteers and to help give out a few checks myself. We matched what they’ve received already with another $5,000 check. I know $10,000 can’t solve everything, but I do hope the money will help them to dream again.”

In addition to providing initial monetary support to displaced families through the monthly check distribution, the remaining funds from the My People Fund will continue to help the people of Sevier County. At least $3 million will be contributed to the Mountain Tough Recovery Team which will serve the continuing needs of residents during the critical rebuilding period ahead. This program will begin helping families on June 1.

“We’re still receiving money, so we aren’t finished yet,” Parton added. “Recovery will take some time, so a new organization—called Mountain Tough—has been created to help our people get back on their feet for the next three years. We’re giving at least $3 million to help this new organization begin the next chapter of our journey.”

Mountain Tough assists individuals and families recovering from the wildfires by providing resources for the unmet needs of low-income families and individuals in Gatlinburg and the surrounding Sevier County area. The team seeks to restore the quality of life and provide for the long-term needs of those affected.

“Mountain Tough will help pick up where the My People Fund left off,” Dollywood Foundation President David Dotson said. “They will be staffed with case managers who will work to identify the immediate needs of residents and our funds will be used to address those needs. For example, it may help with transportation so someone can continue to be employed, or it may help with medicine for conditions caused by the fire. The case managers will coordinate with county agencies to ensure needed assistance is not duplicated and achieves its maximum impact.”

Anyone who wants to help the Mountain Tough Recovery Team with their efforts should visit www.mountaintough.org for information on how to donate, how to volunteer and much more. The website is the official source for all information regarding the recovery effort.

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ABOUT DOLLY PARTON
Dolly Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA certified gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, she has had 25 songs reach #1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist. She has 41 career top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has 110 career-charted singles over the past 40 years. All-inclusive sales of singles, albums, hits collections, paid digital downloads and compilation usage during her Hall of Fame career have reportedly topped a staggering 100 million records.

She has garnered seven Grammy Awards, 10 Country Music Association Awards, five Academy of Country Music Awards, three American Music Awards and is one of only five female artists to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award.

In 1999 Parton was inducted as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and became a member of the National Academy of Popular Music Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2001. Broadcast Music honored Parton with their Icon Award in 2003, and in 2004 the U.S. Library of Congress presented her with their Living Legend Award for her contribution to the cultural heritage of the United States. This was followed in 2005 with the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor given by the U.S. government for excellence in the arts

Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater Gives $100,000 to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital

Pigeon Forge, Tenn. (April 21, 2017) — The Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater gave $100,000 to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital this week.  Jim Hedrick, co-owner of the Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater and senior vice president of Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group said, “Our own little employee family has been greatly helped by the amazing medical care they have received from East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and thousands and thousands of children have been helped by the services of this hospital as well. We are able to donate to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital with one hundred percent of the proceeds from our Christmas Candle Program, whereby, LED candles are purchased by guests who attend “Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry™.” We are really touched and blessed to be able to give to this worthy organization.  It is our honor and our pleasure to donate $100,000 to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.”

“I am stunned,” said Keith Goodwin, chief executive officer of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.  “We are so blessed, so thankful and so thrilled.”  The hospital plans to use the gift to fund their programs and provide assistance to families who are not able to afford services.

Also present for the check presentation were Michael Headla, general manager of The Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater; East Tennessee Children’s Hospital (ETCH) vice-presidents: Bruce Anderson, former legal services, Hella Ewing, patient care, Cathy Shuck, legal services, Carlton Long, institutional advancement, and presenting the big check is Jim Hedrick, sr. vice president of Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment and Keith Goodwin, chief executive officer, ETCH.  Surrounded by the Smoky Mountain Opry’s cast, Pigeon Forge Mayor David Wear was on stage along with several Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group’s employees including Morris Turner, IT specialist, Danny Davaney, entertainer at The Comedy Barn® Theater and three of his children and Judy Caudill, general manager of The Comedy Barn® Theater, whose families have a life-time connection with East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

“Our company is pleased and honored to be helping East Tennessee Children’s Hospital,” said David Fee, president and chief executive officer of Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment. “It is our way of giving back.  We wish all children good health.  This donation is made possible because of the tremendous support of generous guests who gave to our Christmas Candle Program because they want to help others.”

The Smoky Mountain Opry’s™ Christmas Candle Program is used to support local charitable causes. At intermission before the live nativity scene during the “Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry™” show, guests purchase LED souvenir candles “to hold high in honor of Christ.” The candles are held in honor of the spirit of giving at Christmas. One hundred percent of the proceeds from these candles go to the Smoky Mountain Opry™ Christmas Candle Fund. The Candle Fund has now given over $500,00 to local charities.

The “Smoky Mountain Opry™,” renowned as the must-see variety show in Pigeon Forge, recently reopened for the season with “Feel the Music,” an all-new original show with many new cast members and what Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group says is “their biggest and best show in Pigeon Forge to date.” The show has earned the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence five years in a row for having a five-star average rating on their site, making the “Smoky Mountain Opry™” show one of the top-performing 10 percent of businesses worldwide on Trip Advisor. The new show features a musical journey through some of music’s greatest hits with country, Broadway, the silver screen, classic rock, gospel and patriotic numbers.

In the Dec. 2014 edition of Southern Living magazine, the “Smoky Mountain Opry™” was named the “Don’t Miss Variety Show” in Pigeon Forge.

The show runs at 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday with occasional Sunday evening shows.  It also runs at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays.  For more information, visit http://www.smokymtnopry.com/ or call The Smoky Mountain Opry Theater box office at (865) 428-SHOW (7469) or 1-800-768-1170.

The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group, one of the largest show production companies in the Southeast, owns and produces nine shows in the Smoky Mountain area including: The “Smoky Mountain Opry™,” “The Comedy Barn®,” the “Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™,” “Magic Beyond Belief™” starring Darren Romeo and the “Smith Morning Variety Show” featuring Charlie Bob Smith and friends. In November and December, the company presents “Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry™,” The “Hatfield and McCoy Christmas Disaster Dinner Feud™” and “The Comedy Barn® Christmas Show.” In addition, the company produces a summer seasonal “Amazing Animals®” show at The Comedy Barn® Theater.

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East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s vision is Leading the Way to Healthy Children. Children’s Hospital is a private, independent, not-for-profit pediatric medical center that has served the East Tennessee region for more than 75 years and is certified by the state of Tennessee as a

Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center.

 

 

 

Media Contact:

Deborah Fee Newsom

Director of Public Relations and Merchandising

Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group

119 Music Road,

Pigeon Forge, TN 37863

(865) 414-6887 (cell), (865) 774-8877

Deborah@FeeHedrick.com

More Than 200 Free Seminars, Outdoor Excursions Highlight Wilderness Wildlife Week in Pigeon Forge May 9-13

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (April 24, 2017)—Featuring more than 220 free sessions spanning five days, Pigeon Forge’s award-winning Wilderness Wildlife Week is set for May 9-13. The event is headquartered at the LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge.

In its 27th year, Wilderness Wildlife Week offers a variety of workshops, lectures, seminars, concerts, hikes and other activities designed to introduce or reacquaint participants of all ages with the great outdoors.

“From great speakers and interactive how-to classes to topics like Appalachian heritage and forensics, Wilderness Wildlife Week is designed to be informative, engaging and fun,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

The event’s headline sessions include Ken Jenkins, Judy Felts and Friends in a program entitled Beauty from the Ashes (May 9 at 7:45 p.m.) which features photography and inspirational music. Forensics experts Dr. Bill Bass and Art Bohanan (May 10 at 7:45 p.m.) share their findings from applying forensic science to identifying human remains, some of which were discovered in graves dating back 2,000 years. Former park ranger Dwight McCarter (May 11 at 7:15 p.m.) shares stories of search and rescue efforts in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers or those who simply want to learn more about Great Smoky Mountains National Park can choose from lectures about topics ranging from the area’s rich heritage to conservation. Outdoor demonstrations include backcountry cooking and blacksmithing while indoor workshops focus on quilting, basket weaving, photography, fishing and wildflowers. Sevier County’s Sevier Solid Waste management facility’s Where Did It Go? presentation will address managing debris from the November wildfire.

Hikers of all experience levels can choose from several excursions each day. Highlights include a three-mile behind-the-scenes Cades Cove Tour (May 10 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.), a 13.8-mile Appalachian Trail/Goshen Prong hike (May 12 from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.), the one-mile LeConte Center Riverwalk Birding Safari (May 13 from 7:30-9:30 a.m.), and the new 2.5-mile Cades Cove Loop Night Hike (May 11 from 7:15-11 p.m.).

A special kids’ track is offered for younger outdoor enthusiasts where participants can learn more about such topics as whittling, crafting mystery stories, making art from recycled materials and more. Children ages seven to 12 can register for the free Kids’ Trout Tournament on Saturday, May 13, at 8 a.m. in Pigeon Forge’s Patriot Park pavilion.

Patriot Park also is the location of the second annual Appalachian Homecoming event on Friday, May 12, at 5 p.m., with storytelling, music, children’s games, and an antique tractor show. A limited 200 tickets ($15 in advance and $20 onsite) will be offered for a country-style picnic dinner on the grounds with proceeds benefitting Keep Sevier Beautiful.

More than 50 exhibits and vendors include the not-for-profit American Eagle Foundation, Appalachian Bear Rescue, Cades Cove Preservation Association and Onsite Heritage Museum, Keep Sevier Beautiful and more.

This spring celebration of the great outdoors is free and open to the public. For more information, a complete schedule and registration details, visit MyPigeonForge.com.

 

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All New 2017 Smoky Mountain Opry™ show opens with “Feel the Music”

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn., March 14, 2017 –The “Smoky Mountain Opry™,” renowned as the must-see variety show in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., has opened for its grand finale farewell season with “Feel the Music,” an all-new original show, with many new cast members and what Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group is promising to be their biggest and best production show in Pigeon Forge to date.  “Our new show is all about the wow,” said David Fee, president and chief executive officer of Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group.   The show has earned the Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence five years in a row for having a 5-star average rating on their site, making the “Smoky Mountain Opry™” show one of the top-performing 10 percent of businesses worldwide on Trip Advisor. Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group is planning to re-brand the “Smoky Mountain Opry™” show and re-name the theater in 2018.

Hosted by Hugh Warren, the brand-new “Smoky Mountain Opry™ Feel the Music” show is the largest and most attended musical variety show in the Smokies and is marking its sixth season.  The new show features a musical journey through some of music’s greatest hits with country, Broadway, the silver screen, classic rock, gospel and patriotic numbers.  The song and dance performances are showcased in a variety of genres and styles ranging from ballroom to tap to country western and everything in between.  “Combine all of this with the special effects of this beautiful theater – and you are in for an incredible musical journey that you will never forget,” Fee said.

Back by popular demand are the high-flying silk aerialists Duo Artis’ Leann Farley and Semyon Gruzdev and the juggling artistry and comedy of David Hirschi, better known as “Slim Chance.”   Farley has been performing since the age of 15 all over the world.  Gruzdev graduated from one of the most prestigious dance academies in Russia and was a member of the Russian National Theater Dance Group. Chance previously performed in Las Vegas and in Branson, Mo.  He juggles a bowling ball, a rubber chicken, a ping-pong ball, saw blades and many other unusual items in his act, mixed with lots of humor and audience interaction.

“We are thrilled to welcome our new cast members and our returning cast members this year,” Fee said. “Our audiences are always amazed to see Leann and Semyon gracefully fly through the air, but they also love their quick-change act, where you barely blink and they have changed costumes.  Slim Chance is well-known for his unbelievable skillful juggling and he is heartwarming and hilarious too!

“To call The Smoky Mountain Opry show the largest and most exciting variety show in the Smokies is an understatement,” Fee said.  “We are bringing a variety of new production numbers to the stage this season, and we want to especially thank all of our fans who have seen the Smoky Mountain Opry show over the years and invite new visitors to a spectacular new show.

“Our Smoky Mountain Opry show this year features songs that our guests will remember and love all over again, with a remarkable live band,” Fee said.  “Our exceptional cast of singers, dancers and musicians bring back some great memories for our guests with genres that have truly impacted the evolution of music.”

The acclaimed “Smoky Mountain Opry™” show, in the 1400 seat Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater, is known for its diverse musical variety acts and special effects such as lasers, pyrotechnics, flying musicians, water elements and giant video screens.

Singer Charlie Bob Smith performs Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights in the “Smoky Mountain Opry™” show this year.  Smith, well known as the man of a thousand voices, was winner of The Mountain Press Readers’ People’s Choice Award seven times and “Entertainer of the Year” in 2009.  He also performs in “The Smith Morning Variety Show” at The Smoky Mountain Opry Theater on Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 10:30 a.m.

Other cast and musicians in this year’s Smoky Mountain Opry Theater’s “Feel the Music” Show™” include:  Talibah Ashe, Kara Bergman, Alison Bray, Mowava Bucciero, Summer Collins-Wright, Michael DeJesus, Kevin Eknes, Matt George, Timothy Goins, Mark Holbrook, Daniel Longacre, Sally Mementowski, Tim McManus, Cody Parisi, Jeremy Phillips, Kelsey Rae Reinsfelder, Luke Sanderford, Hugh Warren, Jared Willson and Kaleb Wright.

Michael Headla, general manager of The Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater and entertainment director for Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group, is the producer of the 2017 Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater’s “Feel the Music” show.  The production team includes:  David Fee and Jim Hedrick, executive producers; Regina Laughlin, choreographer; Marshall Whaley, technical director; Joel Bruce, production manager; and Sunny Ware and Carol Culp, costume designers.

The show runs at 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday with matinees on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays at 3:30 p.m. There will be occasional Sunday shows and on holiday weekends at 3:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. The theater is located at 2046 Parkway in Pigeon Forge.  Ticket prices are $39.95 plus tax for adults and $19.95 plus tax for children ages 3 to 11. For more information, visit http://www.smokymountainopry.com/ or call The Smoky Mountain Opry Theater box office at 865-428-7469 or 1-800-768-1170.

Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group offers a combo show deal for only $19.95 plus tax for adult tickets to The “Smoky Mountain Opry™” when guests buy a ticket to the “Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™” for $56.95 plus tax. With this combo deal, children are $24.95 plus tax to the “Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™” and free to The “Smoky Mountain Opry™” (one child per paying adult).

After this year’s regular season closes, The Smoky Mountain Opry Theater will open its “Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry™” show on Nov. 1.  After the Christmas show closes in January, the theater will undergo a significant upgrade with details to be announced later this year.

The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group, one of the largest show production companies in the southeast, owns and produces nine shows in the Smoky Mountain area including: The “Smoky Mountain Opry™,” “The Comedy Barn®,” the “Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™,” “Magic Beyond Belief™” starring Darren Romeo and the “Smith Morning Variety Show” featuring Charlie Bob Smith. In November and December, the company presents “Christmas at the Smoky Mountain Opry™,” The “Hatfield and McCoy Christmas Disaster Dinner Feud™,” and “The Comedy Barn® Christmas Show.” In addition, the company produces a summer seasonal “Amazing Animals®” show at The Comedy Barn® Theater.

In the Dec. 2014 edition of “Southern Living” magazine The “Smoky Mountain Opry™” was named the “Don’t Miss Variety Show” in Pigeon Forge.

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Contact:  Deborah Fee Newsom

(865) 774-8877; (865) 414-6887 (cell)

Deborah@feehedrick.com

 

 

 

 

Magician Romeo To Appear In New Theater

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Jan. 31, 2017) — The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group is proud to present the return of “Magic Beyond Belief™ Darren Romeo” in the ALL NEW Magic Beyond Belief™ Darren Romeo Theater, 2135 Parkway in Pigeon Forge (across the street from “The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™”).  Co-owners David Fee and Jim Hedrick, of the Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group, will premiere the new 525 seat-theater on Friday, March 3.

Romeo, an internationally acclaimed magician, has been the star of Fee/Hedrick’s “Magic Beyond Belief™ Darren Romeo” show for the past two years in a matinee show at The Smoky Mountain Opry™ Theater.  Romeo will now star in his own show in a magical evening time slot at the new theater.

This full, two-hour “Magic Beyond Belief™ Darren Romeo” production will feature stunning illusions, mind-boggling special effects, parody celebrity impersonations, hilarious comedy, vocal performance and a huge tribute to the magicians who inspired him the most:  Siegfried and Roy and Harry Blackstone Jr.  It is a high-energy, fast-faced production.

“As a former magician myself, I have loved magic all of my life,” said David Fee, co-owner of the new theater. “Darren Romeo is one of the best magicians I have ever seen. He is extremely special and unique.  His show mixes amazing magic with music, and it is mesmerizing! We are very proud of Darren and of the success of his show in Pigeon Forge and it became obvious to us that he needed his own theater.”

“We expect to invest over $500,000 dollars in theater upgrades to complete the theater with all of the bells and whistles for a truly magical experience,” Fee said. “Two large video screens will complement the show, as well as the glamour of mood-setting lights, engaging music, new elaborate sets, fantastic costumes and state-of-the-art lighting and sound systems.” Fee says the show will leave the entire family spellbound.

Romeo, the first and only protégé of Master Magicians Siegfried and Roy, will appear Monday through Saturday, March through October, at The Magic Beyond Belief Darren Romeo Theater.  Romeo’s “Magic Beyond Belief™ Darren Romeo” is known for his combination of live singing with the art of magic and illusion for a one-of-a-kind magical performance.

Before coming to Pigeon Forge, Romeo previously performed in his own show as “Siegfried & Roy presents: Darren Romeo” at the Mirage in Las Vegas and all over the world.  He has also performed in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace, at the Flamingo Hilton and at the world-famous Magic Castle in Hollywood.

Magician Romeo said, “Magic is my passion, and I will be able to present the biggest and best versions of my show to date in the new Magic Beyond Belief Darren Romeo Theater.”

One of the most awarded magicians in the history of magic, Romeo has garnered an extensive list of accolades including:

“Show of the Year” (2 years in a row) from the Branson Critic Association,

Magician of the Year” from the Magic Castle, The Academy of Magical Arts, Inc., the prestigious Merlin Award for “Entertainer of the Year” from the International Magician’s Society and the Milbourne Christopher Award for “Notable Contributions to the Art of Magic” from The Society of American Magicians (SAM).

In addition to all of the large illusions people would expect to see on stage from Siegfried and Roy’s protégé, Romeo will perform close-up magic and sleight of hand tricks in the new show as well.

Romeo will carry on Harry Blackstone Jr.’s legacy by performing his famous “Floating Light Bulb” Illusion.  He is the only magician in the world granted permission from the Blackstone family to perform this tribute.

The New York Daily News called Romeo’s show “Irresistible” and the Las Vegas Review Journal said it was “the most unique and compelling show to hit the strip in many years.” Entertainment Today said his show was “Extraordinary. Fantastic!”

“We want to provide clean wholesome entertainment for families who will return to see our shows again and again,” Fee said. “Our new theater is Beyond Belief!  Get your tickets now before they all . .  . DISAPPEAR!”

“Magic Beyond Belief™ Darren Romeo” will be performed at 8:15 p.m. on Monday through Saturday.  Tickets for the show will be $29.95, plus tax per person and children 11 and under are only $9.95 plus tax per person. There will be a combo deal when guests buy tickets to “The Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud™” they will be able to purchase tickets to “Magic Beyond Belief™ Darren Romeo” for $19.95 plus tax per person. For more information visit pigeonforgemagic.com.

The Fee/Hedrick Family Entertainment Group, one of the largest show production companies in the southeast, also owns and produces other major shows in the Smoky Mountain area including “The Smoky Mountain Opry,™” “The Comedy Barn®,” The “Hatfield and McCoy Dinner Feud,™” and “The Smith Morning Variety Show.”

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