This time last year is when “2020” became very real for me, and it was mostly due to Dollywood.
I was scheduled to attend Dollywood’s media day Friday, March 13. I was so excited about season opening and desperately hoping to catch a glimpse of Dolly Parton herself.
When Dollywood delayed media day and subsequently its entire season opening, other businesses soon followed suit.
Tennessee’s “safer at home” order was put in place, and the towns of Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge and Sevierville were all but abandoned.
This year will undoubtedly be one for the history books – and as with all major events and tragedies – we will all remember where we were, what we were doing and the impact it had on our lives.
You see, many the residents of Sevier County rely on tourism dollars.
So when local attractions, restaurants and even the Great Smoky Mountains National Park closed for nearly two months, it was a huge blow to the area.
And with so much suffering already going on, as you might imagine, the closures were a tough pill to swallow.
Regardless, by mid-June, most area businesses had reopened and Sevier County lived up to its “Smokies Strong” mantra.
The county rebounded, and the National Park, despite being shut down for a few weeks, experienced its second busiest season on record with more than 12 million visits to the park.
And while the fallout is not completely behind us, one year later, we are at least starting to see a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s exactly as Dolly promised us all along: “Brighter days are ahead”.
But the highly unusual sights and sounds – or rather, lack thereof – of Sevier County’s normally busy streets and attractions looking eerily empty and abandoned will undoubtedly be a visual that we will not soon forget.
For those of you who didn’t get a chance to see this unusual sight for yourself, we thought we’d document this moment in history with this one-of-a-kind “photo tour” of some of The Smokies’ most popular attractions.
The following photographs were taken last April (2020), by TheSmokies.com photographer Daniel Munson.
Luckily, these sights are now a far cry from the hustle and bustle we see on the Parkway today in Sevier County. The tourists have returned and most businesses have bounced back stronger than ever before.
Where were YOU when all of this was going on last Spring? Do you remember these eerie sights? Were you, your family or business impacted by the events of the last year? Share your story with us in the comments!