Dolly Parton Celebrates Return to Dollywood For the First Time in Over a Year

Dolly Parton returned to Dollywood for the first time in 14 months this week. The 75-year-old celebrated the occasion with Good Morning America, recalling how much things have changed in a little over a year.

“We’re not out of it all yet, but hopefully … I can feel a new energy, just feeling like I could come home, and say, ‘Hey, everybody!’ and ‘Thank you for everything,'” Parton remarked. “It’s last year since I was here, since March. We came up here last year, to open the show, and that’s when they closed everything down. We got up here; we were going to have a big press conference. We didn’t even get to have it. So I just walked off that bus. They said, ‘No, we’re closed down. We’re locking down for a year.’ So this is my first time back. It’s exciting to see all the new things they’ve got, the Flower and Food Festival for this season. We’ve got a lot of things to be thankful for.”

Dollywood is ablaze with colors, created with thousands upon thousands of flowers, as part of the park’s Flower and Food Festival. Included in the displays is a 14-foot sculpture of Parton’s mother, Avie Lee Parton, sewing the coat that inspired Parton’s hit single, “Coat of Many Colors.”

“It’s amazing how they can do all that,” Parton boasted.” It takes a lot of time … I was really emotional and I took a lot of pictures. I had seen brochures of it, and I knew what it was supposed to be. But just seeing that whole thing knowing my life as it’s turned out, thinking about my mom and having that thing there that represents who I am as a person, who my parents were and the kind of mother that I was lucky enough to have — and that little coat has carried me so far. It’s kind of like a little signature thing. My life has been a life of many colors, not just a coat. It’s very significant to me. Just seeing that whole thing with mom sewing that, made me grateful.”

Parton is proud of all of the staff at Dollywood, whom she thinks of as her co-workers and not employees.

“I think it’s amazing how our crew has done all the things that they’ve done,” Parton said. “Last year, of course, like everybody else, we were open on a limited basis, but everybody was so great to practice the safety rules. The people here are like family, so any time you have a process of any kind you just kind of pull together and get it done. People always brag about the staff here at Dollywood. This is our 36th season.”

“We’ve had all kinds of people who have been here from the very start,” she added. “That’s the way I’m with my band. We’re just all partners here. It takes us all to make it work.”

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