Christmas At Dollywood: A Chicken Lady And The Street Scene

Tennessee’s PIGEON FORGE — More than six million twinkling lights are strung around Dolly Parton’s theme park here in the Smoky Mountains by Dollywood staff starting in June or July.
They add more than 650 evergreens in a hasty effort right after Halloween, including a 50-footer that serves as the backdrop for a light display depicting a polar bear. A huge wreath tops the steam locomotive that runs around the park, and Santa plush toys are given out as balloon pop prizes.
Early in November, Dolly’s niece Heidi Lou Parton performs “You Are My Christmas,” a song she wrote for her father Randy Parton, on stage in front of gleaming fir trees. She made her stage debut at Dollywood when she was just 4 years old, providing background vocals for Randy, one of Dolly Parton’s 11 siblings. Since then, Heidi Lou, who is now 37, has been giving performances at Dollywood, which have largely included Christmas performances with her father, aunts, and cousins.
She remarked one day between engagements that Dollywood is where she has all of her early recollections. “For me, it’s an oasis.”
Dollywood may be cherished without you being Dolly Parton, especially over the holidays. This 160-acre entertainment complex, 35 miles from Knoxville, has become a Christmas draw to rival Radio City’s Rockettes over the past three decades, with fewer kicklines but far more fingerpicking. Generations of families have made it an annual habit to visit.
Its flagship performance, “Christmas in the Smokies,” has been performed since 1990 and features a live orchestra, Appalachian storytelling, a flatfoot dancer, and a fiddler. In “Dolly Parton’s Mountain Magic Christmas,” the star’s most recent NBC special, which is currently streaming on Peacock, the park serves as the backdrop. The show features numerous Dollywood performers, including Addie Levy, a 20-year-old mandolin, guitar, violin, and upright bass player.

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