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On May 7, 2018, a very special visitor stopped by the Sevierville Senior Center: Ms. Dolly Parton! The Smoky Mountain native and country music legend surprised seniors with an unannounced appearance at the popular gathering place for older adults in Sevier County, TN. Dolly met local seniors, sat in on a few classes, and announced a new partnership with the center. You can see highlights from Dolly’s sweet (and frequently funny) visit to the senior center in the video below:
Dedicating the My People Senior Activity Center
The centerpiece of Dolly’s visit to the Sevierville Senior Center was a dedication ceremony to rename the facility the My People Senior Activity Center. The new name honors Dolly Parton’s parents, Robert and Avie Lee Parton. As Dolly told the seniors at the ceremony, she has long referred to her family and community as “my people”:
“For years, you know, I’ve talked about my brothers and my sisters, my mom and dad, and aunts, uncles, cousins and I call them ‘my people.’ Now of course, when I started Dollywood and the employees there, I thought of them as my family, and they became my people…So, I was just thinking, you know, I’m looking out at you, and I think you are, all of you, you’re my people. And this is great, and I’m so proud and so honored that I’m a Smoky Mountain girl. And I’m so proud of my home, and I’m so proud of my family.”
The facility was previously known as the Fort Sanders Sevier Senior Center, which created some confusion as to the purpose of the building. Since Fort Sanders was also the name of the county hospital, many people assumed that the senior center was a nursing home or an assisted living facility. The facility’s new name better reflects the senior center’s actual mission: providing a place for older adults to stay active, meet with friends, and take classes.
In addition to the name change, it was announced that the senior center will be getting an expansion to accommodate more people.
Dolly’s Best Lines at the Sevierville Senior Center
Dolly Parton’s trademark wit and sense of humor were on full display during her appearance at the Sevierville Senior Center! Here are a few of Dolly’s best lines from her visit:
• During the dedication ceremony, Dolly, who is 72, noted that she is also a senior, “When I was over in Sevier County High School, I couldn’t wait to be a senior, and now that I’m in my second childhood, I’m a senior again. Anyways, I saw one of my old boyfriends from high school. He said ‘Dolly, you look like a million dollars.’ I said, ‘Well, thank you. That’s just how much it’s cost to make me look like this.’”
• Dolly visited the senior center’s woodworking shop, and upon finding out that the women outnumbered the men in that activity, she shouted out “girl power!”
• Parton stopped by a senior aerobics class and stepped right up on the teacher’s platform and started dancing and lifting dumbbells. When picking out dumbbells, Dolly quipped, “I want the little ones. I’ve already got the big ones!”
Dolly-Themed Fun in the Smoky Mountains
When you visit Pigeon Forge, TN, you’ll find plenty of opportunities for enjoying some Dolly-themed fun! Here are four awesome attractions that Dolly fans won’t want to miss during their vacation: