Pardon us, but we need to be blunt for a moment. There were two firestorms that have affected our area. The first, a wildfire that raged down from the Chimney Tops in the Smoky Mountains was horrifying and real. It consumed property and tragically took lives. The second firestorm was created by the first. It was a media sensation – a story of massive destruction that played over and over on televisions and computers around the country and across the world. And, in a way, it’s been slightly more devastating than the real wildfire. To those outside the immediate area, it appeared that Gatlinburg, Tennessee was wiped off the map – ruined – completely destroyed. It appeared to many that the fire had consumed the beauty of the Smoky Mountain National Park. Pictures from other fires – larger more furious fires – have circulated widely on the internet helping to paint a picture of that destruction. A picture that is largely inaccurate.
There was destruction. There was tragic loss, but we’re not gone. We’re not closed, and we’re ready for you here and frankly, we need you here.
Sevierville and Pigeon Forge were untouched. Dollywood, the surrounding attractions, the shops, and yes, Smoky Mountain Knife Works are all 100% open and ready for you. Gatlinburg officially opened this morning for residents and business owners. It will reopen to the public this Friday morning. And while you’ll see some scorched ground on the drive up the spur, you’re going to find the downtown area just as you remember – largely untouched by the wildfire.
If you truly want to help the people of this community who suffered losses during the wildfire, the one thing you can do is visit like you always have. Spend your time and money in the Gatlinburg, Sevierville, and Pigeon Forge communities. This is how we survive here in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. It’s you, the visitors, that help us thrive and continue forward. It’s you – and only you – that can help us do that, and frankly, we need you now more than ever.
Make us your “Home for the Holidays” – we’re here. We need you, and we want to help you make this the best Christmas ever.