What started as a parade to honor Pigeon Forge entertainment legend and businesswoman Dolly Parton has turned into an annual event that kicks off the tourism season in the popular Smoky Mountains family destination.
For the 32nd year, Dolly’s Homecoming Parade will feature Parton as grand marshal while tens of thousands of fans line the street on May 5 (Friday) as the parade proceeds through the center of town along the attraction-lined Parkway.
The parade starts at 6 p.m. at Traffic Light 6 and goes north to Traffic Light 3. Spectators are invited to line both sides of the route.
This year’s parade takes place just before the start of National Travel and Tourism Week (May 7-13). Pigeon Forge is home to Parton’s Dollywood theme park, the state’s most visited commercial visitor attraction.
Parton’s float, always with a surprise theme, will be early in the parade. It is equipped with a sound system so Parton can call out to friends she sees along the way.
“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.”
Parade organizers anticipate more than 130 floats, marching bands, vehicles and organizations will participate. The featured marching bands will be from Pigeon Forge High School, Sevier County High School, Parton’s alma mater, and Penn Hills (Pennsylvania) High School.
Others in the parade include floats representing Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Boys & Girls Club of the Smoky Mountains, a bagpiper from North Carolina, the Andy Griffith Rerun Watchers Club, Girl Scouts, twirling groups, cloggers, Shriners, veterans groups, the Boys and Girls Club, equestrian clubs and a variety of Pigeon Forge theaters and attractions.
For information about all aspects of Pigeon Forge and other city-sponsored events, visit MyPigeonForge.com or call toll-free to 1-800-251-9100.