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Dolly Parton waving from a float in her parade in Pigeon Forge.

Dolly Parton Steps Down as Grand Marshal of Annual Parade in Pigeon Forge

A decades-long tradition in Pigeon Forge, TN will undergo a big change this May. For 32 years, Dolly Parton has served as the grand marshal of an annual springtime parade down the Parkway. Known as Dolly’s Homecoming Parade, this popular event has historically drawn over 50,000 visitors.

On January 25, 2018, officials from the city of Pigeon Forge and the Dollywood theme park announced that the Homecoming Parade is getting a makeover. Dolly Parton will be stepping down as the grand marshal and the parade will now be known as the Music in the Mountains Spring Parade. The parade will continue to showcase local entertainment while serving as the unofficial kickoff of Pigeon Forge’s peak tourism season. The grand marshal for the 2018 parade will be baseball legend Cal Ripken Jr.

A Message from DollyDolly Parton posing for a photograph.

In the press release announcing the change, Dolly reflects back fondly on her time as grand marshal, looks ahead to the future, and employs her famous sense of humor. You can read her statement below:

“For 32 years, it’s been my honor and privilege to serve as the grand marshal. In that time, Pigeon Forge has grown so much and so many new businesses and attractions have come to town, everyone agrees that this is the perfect time for me to step aside and share the spotlight with some other folks. Dollywood has hogged the spotlight long enough!”

While Dolly feels like her theme park gets plenty of attention these days, that wasn’t the case when the Homecoming Parade began in 1987. Back then, Dollywood was celebrating its very first birthday, having just opened its doors the previous May. Over the next three decades, the theme park grew into Tennessee’s biggest ticketed attraction as Pigeon Forge blossomed into a can’t-miss vacation spot.

Whether she is heading a parade or leading from behind, we’re so grateful for everything Dolly has done, and continues to do, for our Smoky Mountain community. Plus, the city of Pigeon Forge says that Dolly has a “standing invitation” to participate in any future parade, so you never know when she might take them up on their offer!

Boy watching a parade and pointing.Details for the Music in the Mountains Spring Parade

The Music in the Mountains Spring Parade will take place on May 4, 2018 at 6 p.m. The press release from the city of Pigeon Forge provides an overview of the event:

“The Music in the Mountains Spring Parade will showcase the rich musical heritage of the Great Smoky Mountains while spotlighting the variety of entertainment provided by the many theaters located in the popular vacation destination. Theaters located throughout the city also will have the opportunity to give parade attendees a glimpse of their respective shows. Other familiar favorites will be featured as well.”

In addition to Pigeon Forge’s wonderful entertainers, the parade will also include high school marching bands from around the country, choral groups, dance groups, and baton twirlers. As we mentioned earlier in the article, Cal Ripken Jr. will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. The baseball star is the owner of the Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge, a $22.5 million youth baseball facility that opened in 2016.

More Events in Pigeon ForgeThe Welcome to Pigeon Forge sign.

Looking for even more amazing things to do in the Smoky Mountains during your vacation? Bookmark our Pigeon Forge Events Calendar to stay up to date on everything going on in town!