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The world’s most famous Smoky Mountain native is celebrating her birthday this month! Dolly Parton will turn 72 years old on January 19, 2018 – although she certainly doesn’t look like a typical septuagenarian. While most people tend to slow down as they age, Dolly seems to be doing the opposite. In 2017, Dolly had one of her busiest and most successful years ever. To mark the country star’s birthday, Visit My Smokies has put together a quick recap of some of the biggest moments for Dolly Parton in the past year.
Dolly is Named the Knoxville News Sentinel’s 2017 Person of the Year
The Knoxville News Sentinel named Dolly Parton their Person of the Year for 2017! The East Tennessee newspaper lauded Parton for her incredible charity work last year. The My People Fund paid out millions of dollars to Sevier County residents in need of a hand up. Dolly’s signature nonprofit, the Imagination Library, had a record-breaking year. This amazing organization now gives free books to 1.1 million children every month. Parton also made a $1 million contribution to the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and donated generously to the One America Appeal for Hurricane Relief.
Dolly Sets Two Guinness World Records
Dolly recently made it into the Guinness World Records book – twice! Parton was recognized for being the female artist with the most hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, having scored a whopping 107 hits over the years. Dolly also holds the record for the most decades (six) with a Top 20 hit on the Hot Country Songs chart. You can watch a video of Dolly being presented with her Guinness World Records below:
Dolly Releases Her First Children’s Album
In September, Dolly released her very first children’s album, I Believe in You! Parton wrote the songs for the album over the past ten years, and many of them were featured at the Imagination Playhouse at Dollywood. All proceeds from the album benefit the Imagination Library.
Dollywood and Splash Country Add New Rides and Entertainment
Dollywood gets bigger and better every year, and 2017 was no exception! The theme park unveiled Drop Line (an exhilarating free fall tower), Whistle Punk Chaser (a lumberjack-themed junior coaster), and Great Pumpkin LumiNights (special jack-o’-lantern-inspired decorations and events at the Harvest Festival). Additionally, Dollywood’s Splash Country added TailSpin Racer, a six-lane racing water slide. Dolly also announced her big plans for 2018, the Season of Showstoppers!
What Happened in 2016
2016 was also a huge year for Dolly Parton! Here are just some of the highlights from that year:
Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure Opens in Pigeon Forge
In May of 2016, Dolly opened a new dinner theater in Pigeon Forge: Dolly Parton’s Lumberjack Adventure. This thrilling show features impressive lumberjack competitions, dazzling acrobatics, high-jumping dogs, and tasty campfire-style meals. Like everything Dolly touches, the Lumberjack Adventure was an instant success and has quickly established itself as one of the must-see shows in the Smokies. When Dolly came to Pigeon Forge her annual parade down the Parkway, she even wore a special lumberjack outfit to promote the show!
Dolly and Carl Dean Celebrate Their 50th Wedding Anniversary
The month of May also marked 50 years of marriage for Dolly and her husband Carl Dean. To celebrate the occasion, the couple renewed their vows in a private ceremony with friends and family at their home outside of Nashville, TN. Dolly and Carl met in 1964 on the first day that Parton moved to the Music City. Carl Dean has said that the instant he saw Dolly, his first thought was “I’m gonna marry that girl”.
Dolly Answers Questions from Fans of Visit My Smokies
The highlight of our year was having Dolly stop by Visit My Smokies to answer questions from our fans on social media! Hundreds of people submitted questions with the #AskDollyVMS, and Dolly gave thoughtful and funny responses to the top six questions. You can see Dolly’s interview with Visit My Smokies in the video below:
Dolly Releases Brand New “Pure & Simple” Album
Fans of Dolly’s music were thrilled when the Queen of Country released her new “Pure & Simple” album in August. With its stripped down acoustic arrangements, this charming album climbed the charts and landed Parton her first No. 1 record since 1991. The album also spawned Dolly’s biggest tour in 25 years, with stops all across the U.S. and Canada.
Dolly is Honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CMAs
At the 50th Annual CMA Awards, Dolly Parton was the guest of honor. During the climax of the show, Parton was presented with the “Willie Nelson Lifetime Achievement Award” in recognition of her incredible career and philanthropic efforts. When Dolly appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live before the CMAs, Kimmel quipped, “I feel like Willie Nelson could just as easily be getting the ‘Dolly Parton Lifetime Achievement Award’”!
The “Christmas of Many Colors” TV Movie Premieres
Dolly Parton’s 2015 TV movie “Coat of Many Colors” was such a big hit that NBC green-lit a sequel! At the end of November, “Christmas of Many Colors” premiered to huge ratings. To promote the movie, Dolly held a special “Hollywood at Dollywood” event, where the stars of the film walked the red carpet at the theme park.
Dolly Raises Millions for Wildfire Victims with “Smoky Mountain Rise” Telethon
When the people of Sevier County needed help, it didn’t take long for Dolly to come to the rescue! After the wildfires in the Smoky Mountains, Parton quickly established the My People Fund to help financially support families who lost their homes. To raise money for the charity, Dolly organized the “Smoky Mountain Rise” telethon, which featured some of the biggest names in country music. The telethon raised $9 million for Sevier County residents affected by the fires.
Everyone here at Visit My Smokies wishes Dolly a very happy birthday and a wonderful new year!
To wish Dolly Parton a happy birthday, leave a comment below!