Posts Tagged ‘Tennessee’

Bristol Duo Lands in Final Three of Pigeon Forge Path to Fame Talent Competition on June 16

Cross-state drive to first audition proves a wise decision for Ashley Tragler and Christian Simcox.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (June 18, 2018) — Pigeon Forge Path to Fame Talent Competition hosted its final round at Smoky Mountain Opry on Saturday, June 16, where 12 contestants performed. Ashley Tragler and Christian Simcox, from Bristol, Tenn., advanced to the top three.

19-year-old Tragler and 21-year-old Simcox are a duo on stage and in life. The couple performed “Poison and Wine” by The Civil Wars and won over the judges with their harmonies and Simcox’s impressive guitar skills. Tragler and Simcox left Bristol, Tenn. at 3 a.m. to audition in Nashville, Tenn. on April 21. View performance here.

“Even if we didn’t make it at the auditions, even if we didn’t place in the top three, we just love playing music. That’s why we are here,” said Simcox.

“It takes such strength to get out on stage and do what these contestants did today,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “We are fortunate to have a robust theater community in Pigeon Forge and we are thrilled to be able to give this opportunity to performers looking to advance their careers.”

Approximately 450 contestants registered to compete in the Pigeon Forge Path to Fame. A three-month auditions tour visited Cincinnati, Nashville and Atlanta and produced four finalists from each city, all of whom competed in Saturday’s finals. Contestants competed for a grand prize package that includes a 12-month career mentorship with a Nashville-based entertainment executive and a consultation with performer Kelsea Ballerini.

Each contestant performed in front of a live audience and a diverse panel of judges: John Alexander, Nashville-based talent executive, Michael Headla, general manager, producer and director of Smoky Mountain Opry, Jeff Taylor, general manager for Country Tonite Theatre; and Kyle Grainger, WVLT reporter.


The top three finalists include Taylor Deaton from Springboro, Ohio, and grand champion Brenna Beatty from Springfield, Tenn.

Pigeon Forge is a family-friendly vacation destination with over 80 attractions including award-winning entertainment. Janelle Arthur, Craig Morgan and Carly Pearce all got their start in Pigeon Forge. The city embarked on a three-city tour to discover new talent that could entertain Pigeon Forge audiences.

For more information about the Path to Fame Talent Competition, visit For more information about Pigeon Forge, visit


Link to photos and b-roll of PathToFameFinals.

Media Contact:
Jess Pangrazio
615-327-1189 ext. 350

Can You Tie a Knot Like a Pirate? Alcatraz East Crime Museum Adds a New Pirate Interactive, Along With Several Other New Artifacts and Exhibits

Alcatraz East Crime Museum offers new hands-on experiences and one-of-a-kind historical artifacts throughout

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (March 6, 2018) – Crime enthusiasts, news buffs, and history lovers will enjoy the new additions to Alcatraz East Crime Museum beginning this spring. The area’s newest attraction intrigues visitors 365 days a year on what’s considered America’s favorite subject. In order to attract Pigeon Forge’s repeat visitors, the museum rotates items from its collection annually. This year, Alcatraz East has added interactive exhibits as well as new artifacts. The additions give visitors a chance to share their stories and test their skills, while the new artifacts expand exhibits on Jesse James, Charles Manson, and kidnapping victim Jaycee Dugard.

“We have already experienced that visitors to this area come several times throughout the year, and we want to make sure they keep coming back to see us as well,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer. “We are happy to offer a place where visitors not only learn, but also remember and feel touched and inspired to get involved in crime prevention. With some of our additions, our guests will have the opportunity to share some of their own stories.”

The museum’s visitors are fascinated to see authentic artifacts, such as the white Bronco from the infamous O.J. Simpson police chase and Ted Bundy’s VW Bug. Others come to learn more about crime in American culture and the background of our law enforcement system. The museum offers something for everyone, including plenty of hands-on experiences.

There are several new interactive exhibits that have opened, including:

  • The ability to test your pirate skills at tying knots.
  • Share your own 9/11 experiences.
  • Thank law enforcement with a personal message. Those who may be interested in saying thank you to a particular officer or department can log onto their website to submit their story for display in the museum.

This spring, the crime museum has also added numerous exciting artifacts to their collection, including:

  • James Gang, Hite Revolvers – These two revolvers were used by James Gang members and cousins of Jesse and Frank James, Clarence and Robert “Wood” Hite. They rode with Jesse during his last days, until Wood Hite was murdered by Robert Ford, who also killed Jesse four months later.
  • Charles Manson Guitar & Beach Boys album “20/20” – This guitar was taken into custody in Inyo County California, during a raid on the Barker Ranch when Charles Manson was also arrested. The Tate-LaBianca Murders had taken place roughly two months before. In 1969, the song “Never Learn Not to Love” appeared on the Beach Boys album credited to Dennis Wilson, although Manson had originated the song under the name “Cease to Exist.”
  • Sheriff Richard Allen “Smoot” Schmid (1897 – 1963) Cowboy Boots – The four term Dallas County sheriff was 6’ 5 ½” with size 14 shoe. Dallas was home turf to Bonnie and Clyde, and Schmid set up an ambush on Nov 22, 1933 when they planned to meet their families. The duo escaped that night, slightly wounded.
  • Family Photos of Jaycee Dugard, Original “Jaycee Lee” recordings and flyers – In the summer of 1991, Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped while walking to her school bus stop. A song was written by local radio DJ Larry Williams, featuring Jaycee’s mother Terry speaking to her daughter, and sales supported the continued search efforts. The exhaustive search went on for years. Jaycee was found and rescued in 2009.
  • Foxcatcher Medal – Foxcatcher Farm was the name of the estate and wrestling facility owned by wealthy heir John du Pont. On January 26, 1996, he shot and killed one of his Team Foxcatcher coaches and former Olympic gold medalist Dave Schultz.

“We like our visitors to see different pieces from our collection,” added Vaccarello. “Walking through the museum you get a sense of gratitude for those who fight crime, as well as a desire to help victims, we feel honored to share the stories.”

Alcatraz East Crime Museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen. Guests can also enjoy free parking available at The Island during their visit. The museum has a star-studded panel of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including those in law enforcement, collectors, a medical examiner, crime scene investigators, and others. The board includes Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests of all ages can encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction is located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:

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Cher Murphy

The Ripken Experience Hits Home Run for Season One in Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 24, 2017) – Marking its first anniversary in the Smoky Mountains, The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge is batting a thousand with baseball fans and city officials alike.

Since opening its doors in March 2016, more than 800 youth baseball teams and 70 high school softball teams have taken the fields at The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge for competition in 30 tournaments. In total, more than 12,000 players and coaches have traveled to play ball on fields that offer unobstructed views of the Great Smoky Mountains, with an additional 600 teams expected to travel to the complex for competition this summer.

“Not only did thousands of players, coaches and their families enjoy The Ripken Experience, but they also took advantage of our family-friendly vacation destination, which resulted in visitor spending of $30 million in Pigeon Forge,” said Eric Brackins, Pigeon Forge assistant city manager.

The appeal of Pigeon Forge as a family vacation destination was a major reason the city built the $22.5 million complex and contracted with Ripken Baseball to operate it.

In its first year, participants traveled to Pigeon Forge from 25 states and Canada, hailing from as far away as Alaska, California, Massachusetts, and Texas. Other states represented are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

“America’s favorite pastime, baseball, and Pigeon Forge are a perfect combination,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism. “The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge has given many folks a reason to visit Pigeon Forge for the first time, and once they see all that we have to offer, they want to return year after year.”

The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge youth complex is located on a ridge above Pigeon Forge. Each field borrows its design inspiration from current and former ballparks highlighting the professional player progression from the Minor to Major Leagues, including Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore.

The others are Calfee Park in Pulaski, Va., the oldest park in the Appalachian League; Fluor Field in Greenville, S.C., known as “Little Fenway”; Engel Stadium in Chattanooga, Tenn., a filming location for the “42” movie about Jackie Robinson; Winston-Salem Ballpark in N.C.; and Isotopes Park in Albuquerque, N.M.

The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge hosts tournaments nine months out of the year and offers year-round branded events in its 14,000-square-foot clubhouse. Tournaments are free to spectators, and parking is free at the complex.

Visitor information about Pigeon Forge is available online at and toll-free at 800-251-9100. To learn more Ripken Baseball and for The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge tournament schedule, visit


Media Contacts:

Trish McGee for the Pigeon Forge Dept. of Tourism

615-327-1189 ext. 327


Katy Ford for The Ripken Experience Pigeon Forge



Visiting Pigeon Forge? 5 Things Everyone Should Know About Alcatraz East

PIGEON FORGE, Tennessee (May 23, 2017) – Each year, around 10 million people visit the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area. Whether vacationing with their children or enjoying time on their own, most are searching for unforgettable memories while visiting the area. One place that should be at the top of everyone’s list is Alcatraz East Crime Museum, a new attraction on the Parkway that provides both an educational and entertaining time, and includes information and activities for the whole family.

“We’ve had an amazing response since opening our doors in December,” states Janine Vaccarello, chief operating officer for Alcatraz East, “We have something for all ages, and most families spend 2-3 hours going through the exhibits. Guests walk away saying they knew they would love it, but it was better than expected, and that makes us feel very proud.”

While visitors to the area enjoy taking a hike in the Great Smoky Mountains while visiting this vacation destination, Alcatraz East offers a break from the outdoor activities. Here are 5 things everyone should know about Alcatraz East Crime Museum when visiting the Pigeon Forge area:

1   America’s Favorite Subject. With all the movies and TV shows related to the topic of crime, this is a must see. The museum features five themes that give visitors a glimpse into notorious crime history, forensic science, law enforcement, our justice system and pop culture. There are over 100 interactives throughout the museum, providing visitors with a hands-on experience.

2   It’s Not About Alcatraz. Although it’s part of the name and the famous prison inspired this attractionAlcatraz East is a crime museum, featuring an in depth look at American crime history, with artifacts from different eras and topics. The one-of-kind building was designed as a combination of Tennessee’s first state prison from 1898, and guard towers inspired by the Alcatraz lighthouse in California. The two-story building offers over 25,000 square feet of exhibit space.

3   One-of-a-Kind Artifacts. From white-collar crimes to Old West gunslingers, the museum features original artifacts from Jesse James to Whitey Bulger. Things to watch for include the famous O.J. Simpson chase white Bronco, John Dillinger’s death mask, Al Capone’s rosary, a submachine gun from the movie Scarface, Ted Bundy’s VW Beetle. Tennessee is well represented, with objects such as the Old Smoky electric chair and moonshine stills as well as notable Dr. William Bass, highlighting his achievements- which advanced forensic anthropology.

4   Interact with the Museum. Kids (and their parents) can have fun and learn at the same time through the museum’s Top Detective Challenge. Follow clues throughout the museum to solve the crime of a stolen artifact, and receive a prize if you crack the case! There is also an opportunity for parents and kids to enjoy the thrill of The Heist Laser Maze (think Thomas Crown Affair!).

5   Temporary Exhibits. Beginning mid-May, Alcatraz East debuted the first of its temporary exhibit programs, which will be an annual rotation in two areas of the museum. Through April 2018, “Ivory, Tortoise Shell & Fur: The Ugly Truth About Wildlife Trafficking will reveal how endangered species are effected by poaching and what the public can do to help end the practice.

“Every year, families make lifetime memories here in the Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge area,” states Vaccarello, “We are happy to now be a part of those memories, giving them a look at history, crime prevention, while having an interactive experience.”

Alcatraz East officially opened December 16, 2016. The new crime museum is located at the entrance to The Island, at 2757 Parkway in Pigeon Forge, near the Margaritaville Hotel and Paula Deen’s Family Kitchen.

The 25,000-square-foot museum is designed with a jail façade, has a star-studded board of experts who make up the Advisory Board, including Jim Willett, a retired prison warden, Anthony Rivera, a combat veteran and Navy SEAL chief, and Judge Belvin Perry, Jr., who is best known for the Casey Anthony trial.

General admission tickets are $14.95 for children, $24.95 for adults. Group ticket sales are available. The museum will be open 365 days per year, from 10 am to 9 pm, with the last ticket sold 60 minutes before closing. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit:

About Alcatraz East

Alcatraz East is the most arresting crime museum in the United States. Guests encounter a unique journey into the history of American crime, crime solving, and our justice system. Through interactive exhibits and original artifacts, Alcatraz East is an entertaining and educational experience for all ages – so much fun it’s a crime! This family attraction will be located at the entrance of The Island, located at 2757 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN. For more information, visit

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Cher Murphy


Outdoor Gravity Park Earns 2016 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (May 2016) — Outdoor Gravity Park received a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence. Now in its sixth year, the achievement celebrates hospitality businesses that have earned great traveler reviews on TripAdvisor over the past year. Certificate of Excellence recipients include accommodations, eateries and attractions located all over the world that have continually delivered a quality customer experience.

“With the Certificate of Excellence, TripAdvisor honors hospitality businesses that have consistently received strong praise and ratings from travelers,” said Heather Leisman, Vice President of Industry Marketing, TripAdvisor. “This recognition helps travelers identify and book properties that regularly deliver great service. TripAdvisor is proud to play this integral role in helping travelers feel more confident in their booking decisions.”B13-Zorb-Smoky-Mountains

Recently the Outdoor Gravity Park opened a fourth track dubbed The FUNnel which allows two to three riders to splash and zig-zag down a 1,000-foot hill. It is the only park in the world that can boast of such a unique attraction, allowing Outdoor Gravity Park to cater to an even larger audience than before, and promises to be a summer hit. With the new TripAdvisor certificate of excellence in hand, the attraction is sure to be a staple in Pigeon Forge for years to come.

Contact:  Amanda Breeden,

About Outdoor Gravity Park

The Outdoor Gravity Park is home to the iconic New Zealand adventures, OGO.  The OGO is straight from New Zealand, this facility’s most famous attraction is zorbing. The ball is 11 feet high, 11 feet fat, and bouncy and sits perched at the top of a 1,000-foot hill. In a moment, you will go rolling towards the bottom, slip and sliding, no tumbling—but only after a couple of things happen. First, one to three people dive into the sphere’s belly. Then, some of the park’s attendants toss ten gallons of water into this signature attraction, and finally close the door. The water makes for a slippery ride, though one without tumbling–your fast and adrenaline-packed descent down our 1000-foot hill is more akin to a bouncy water slide or a rolling Jacuzzi.  Bring your swimsuit and towel and come join us as we are open rain or shine.

About TripAdvisor

TripAdvisor is the world’s largest travel site**, enabling travelers to plan and book the perfect trip. TripAdvisor offers advice from millions of travelers and a wide variety of travel choices and planning features with seamless links to booking tools that check hundreds of websites to find the best hotel prices. TripAdvisor branded sites make up the largest travel community in the world, reaching 340 million unique monthly visitors***, and 350 million reviews and opinions covering 6.5 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions. The sites operate in 48 markets worldwide.

TripAdvisor, Inc. (NASDAQ:TRIP), through its subsidiaries, manages and operates websites under 24 other travel media brands:,,,,,, (including,,, and,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

**Source: comScore Media Metrix for TripAdvisor Sites, worldwide, February 2016

***Source: TripAdvisor log files, Q1 2016



Titanic Museum Attractions Awarded World Rights to Exhibit Wallace Hartley Violin, Most Prized RMS Titanic Artifact Ever Recovered

July 2015 – The Wallace Hartley Titanic violin commanded the highest price ever paid for an RMS Titanic artifact when it was sold at auction in October 2013 by the world’s leading Titanic auctioneers, Henry Aldridge & Son Auction House of  Devizes, Wiltshire, England. Now, under exclusive arrangements with Aldridge & Sons and the secret owner they represent, this cherished violin is coming to the Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in 2016, announces Mary Kellogg-Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Attractions.

“RMS Titanic bandleader Wallace Hartley’s violin has become the iconic symbol of the Titanic saga. Found strapped to his body after the sinking, it was returned to his wife-to-be, only to be lost to the world until it resurfaced almost a century later. Now, for the first time since an unnamed owner took possession of the violin, visitors to the Titanic Museum Attractions will be able to experience for themselves, the overwhelming sense of emotion it evokes,” says Kellogg.

“In my 20 years as an auctioneer, I can honestly say I don’t think any other article has made people show as much emotion as this one,” said auction house director Andrew Aldridge.

Exhibition dates:

* Branson, Missouri — March 7 -May 29, 2016

* Pigeon Forge, Tennessee — June 5 – August 14, 2016

On June 17, 2015, the Wallace Hartley gravesite in Colne, Lancashire, was catalogued by Historic England as a newly listed historic site. The original gravesite ceremony was held on May 17, 1912, at which time more than 30,000 mourners attended the procession for the town’s national hero. It was the largest number of people known to have attended services for an RMS Titanic victim.

Hartley’s impressive memorial is located on the main road into Colne. A small bronze plaque reads: “Wallace Hartley Bandmaster of the RMS Titanic who perished in the foundering of that vessel April 15, 1912 Erected by voluntary contributions to commemorate the heroism of a native of this town.”

In anticipation of record crowds, Titanic Museum Attractions management will feature a special, daily, Early Morning violin viewing for a limited number of Titanic enthusiasts. These VIP guests will have close, uncrowded access to the violin, where they can shoot heirloom photos of their encounter with the violin that played on and on, as Titanic slipped away.

“The Titanic violin may never be played again,” admits Kellogg. “But one of the final songs Wallace Hartley was said to have been playing during the ship’s final moments can still be heard in our imaginations:”

                                                     Nearer, my God to thee,

                                                     Nearer, my God to thee,

                                                     Nearer to thee…

Reservations are suggested by calling 800-381-7672 or going online at

#   #    #

Titanic Museum Attraction:  Cedar Bay Entertainment, LLC owns and operates the Titanic Museum Attractions in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. A privately owned-and-operated entertainment and development company, Cedar Bay is headquartered in Branson, MO, the site of the first Titanic Museum Attraction. Since its opening in 2006, Titanic Branson has welcomed more than 7 million “passengers” aboard the museum. Titanic Pigeon Forge opened in 2010 and has already welcomed 3.6 million visitors.

Henry Aldridge & Son: Henry Aldridge and Son are one of England’s premier auctioneers of antiques and collector’s items. It is a family-run business operated by father and son team Alan and Andrew Aldridge. They were described recently by the top collector of Ocean Liner Memorabilia worldwide as the “Leading source of high end ocean liner collectibles in the world” and are universally accepted as the premier auctioneers in the sale of Titanic and White Star Line material.

Contact:    Mary Kellogg

Phone:      800-381-7670



Violin Auction House:

(Devizes, Wiltshire, England)



‘Saddle Up’ Draws Cowboy Fans from 22 States to Pigeon Forge

Salute to cowboy music, poetry, cooking notches 14th year

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (March 2013) – Visitors from at least 22 states attended Saddle Up, a cowboy culture special event that Pigeon Forge organizes as its last major component of Pigeon Forge Winterfest.

Red Steagall at Saddle Up 2014

Red Steagall at Saddle Up 2014

The five-day celebration in late February featured concerts by top cowboy and cowgirl musicians and poets, a chuck wagon cookoff and other western-themed activities. The event, now 14 years old, has been named a Top 20 Event in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society.

“Saddle Up had two major accomplishments – it entertained people royally, and it attracted visitors from a wide area, including from states not usually in our visitor data, especially in winter,” said Leon Downey, executive director of the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism.

Visitors came from as far away as Texas, Oklahoma, Iowa, Idaho and Massachusetts, Downey reported, in addition to Pigeon Forge’s usual market area of states in the Southeast, mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

“I spoke to one gentleman at the chuck wagon cookoff who had made the trip from Raleigh just because he’d seen a TV feature about chuck wagon cooking and searched for the closest one to him,” Downey said.

Most Saddle Up events in 2014 were in the new LeConte Center at Pigeon Forge, and event organizers were pleased with the venue.

“We had two small-scale dinner shows that we called ‘Intimate Evenings’ and multiple large-scale concerts. All worked well, and our guests and performers were pleased,” said Butch Helton, special events manager for the tourism department.

Performers this year were Don Edwards, Red Steagall and the Boys in the Bunkhouse, Hot Club of Cowtown, Belinda Gail, Andy Nelson, Ray Doyle, T. Scot Wilburn and the Shut Up -N- Playboys, and Joyce Woodson.

Helton said discussions already are underway for the 2015 lineup.

Pigeon Forge’s next city-sponsored special event is Dolly’s Homecoming Parade, a salute to Dolly Parton, on May 2.



Tom Adkinson, APR


2012 Was Very, Very Good for Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Visitation to Great Smoky Mountains National Park rose to 9,685,828 in 2012. That’s a 7.5 percent jump, making 2012 the biggest year since the 10.1 million visitors in 2000, which remains the record.

Park management credited mild weather last winter and spring as a big factor. Every month in 2012 had more visitors than the same month in 2011.

Clear, cool, tumbling water is a hallmark of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Clear, cool, tumbling water is a hallmark of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

December’s count was 480,527, up from 471,603. That was despite the closure of the Newfound Gap Road between the Sugarlands Visitors Center and Cherokee, N.C., for all or part of six days because of ice and snow. The Christmas and New Year’s holidays brought large numbers of visitors to the park.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, with 800 square miles of natural beauty, is the most visited national park in the United States.

The national park is the primary focus of Wilderness Wildlife Week, a project of the City of Pigeon Forge. It offers eight days of free programming and activities about the park and numerous other outdoor topics.

Wilderness Wildlife Week takes place at the Music Road Hotel and Convention Center.

Look! Up in the Sky!

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (October 2012) – A gigantic blue and green helium balloon has people all over Pigeon Forge pointing to the sky and admiring the city’s newest attraction.

It is Wonders of Flight, an addition to the science- and fun-filled WonderWorks attraction on the Parkway.

The Wonders of Flight, a helium-filled balloon 72-feet in diameter, rises silently behind WonderWorks in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

The Wonders of Flight balloon is 72 feet in diameter, and the gondola it lifts can carry up to 30 people for spectacular views of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Pigeon Forge and the surrounding counties. It is tethered to a 400-foot-long cable.

The captain says that on an especially clear day, the famous Cumberland Gap is visible on the horizon. That’s where Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia come together.

Aerophile, the world leader in tethered gas balloons, is the manufacturer. Its only other similar balloon in the Southeast is at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla. Other locations include China, France, Germany and Turkey.

“The ascents, by day or night, provide guests with an unmatched, 360-degree panoramic view of the Smoky Mountains,” said Jerome Giacomoni, Aerophile’s president. “In one single gaze, the entire breathtaking view can be seen from exceptional heights, including a unique opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the fall leaves.”

Wonders of Flight offers a spectacular view of Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and great Smoky Mountains National Park at an elevation of 400 feet.

Giacomoni explains that the Wonders of Flight balloon is environmentally friendly and totally silent thanks to its permanently inflated helium envelope and a hydroelectric winch.



‘Cowgirl Caravan’ Targets Pigeon Forge

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (February 2012) – Fifty adventure-loving cowgirls and their caravan of 30 Western-decorated travel trailers, some more than a half-century old, will add a special flair to Saddle Up, Pigeon Forge, Tenn.’s, Feb. 23-26 tribute to the Old West.

The cowgirls are members of Sisters on the Fly, a national organization of women who enjoy outdoor activities. The Saddle Up caravan members are from at least 13 states, stretching from Florida and Mississippi to Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

They will set up camp at Clabough’s Campground and will be an extra component of a chuckwagon cookoff and Buckaroo Roundup on Feb. 25 (Saturday).

Their 12- to 24-foot-long travel trailers, which owners describe as decorated in “a Western kitschy style,” will be open for inspection that day.

The Stages West western wear store, a major supporter of Saddle Up, invited the group to Pigeon Forge.

“The Sisters on the Fly and Saddle Up go together like rodeos and wranglers,” said Marlene Houser of Stages West. “The Sisters will have a great time, and they’ll add to the overall Western atmosphere of Saddle Up.”

Sisters on the Fly was created by two real-life sisters, Becky Clarke and Maurrie Sussman, in 1999 while on a Montana fly-fishing trip. Their love of the outdoors has led to a 1,700-member group ranging in age from 20-somethings to women almost 90.

Saddle Up offers a variety of concerts with entertainers such as R.W. Hampton, Stephanie Davis & the Roadrunners, Cowboy Celtic, Saddle Cats, Andy Nelson, Chuck Pyle, Ray Doyle and Kent Rollins. There is a Cowboy Dance on Feb. 25, and a non-denominational Cowboy Church service follows a chuckwagon breakfast on Feb. 26.

Saddle Up ticket information and a schedule of activities are at