In addition to the park awards, Dolly Parton and her business partners, Jack and Pete Herschend, were named Golden Ticket legends. Parton said the park had always been a dream of hers.
“We have so many wonderful things happening here, I have wonderful partners with the Herschends, but I’ve been blessed to do tons of stuff, and at my age I’m still doing it and I’m as excited about everything as I was back when I left the Smokies dreaming years ago,” Parton said.
She said she’s proud of more than just the park.
“A lot of my own relatives even work on the park, which is great, especially in the show, the family show. I’m proud of all of that, but I’m just proud of the whole area. Dollywood is just the star of the area, of course I would think that, or I want to believe that,” Parton said. “I just think the whole area, from Sevierville through Pigeon Forge through Gatlinburg, I’m proud of this whole area.”
Parton has many projects outside of music that showcase her love for East Tennessee.
“I’m just proud to be a Tennessee girl, so of course I wanted something in my own hometown. I always used to think, ‘If I make it big, if I make it like I’m dreaming of doing, I want to go back home and do something great for the people in my hometown,'” she said.
That’s exactly what she did. Dollywood employs thousands of people and has been ranked a top workplace in America.
“It’s something I can always be proud of, something my relatives can be proud of, and all my neighbors, the people I grew up with. Just to say that’s my hometown, I got something special here, and that has all come true, and I cannot tell you how proud I am of that.”
She and her business partners at Dollywood, Jack and Pete Herschend, were also named Golden Ticket Legends at the awards ceremony.
“At Dollywood, we give back too. Of course we make money. If you go in business, you’re hoping to make money, but it’s not about the money at this point in my life as much as it is about making sure that I show my gratitude toward life and toward God and toward the people that have made life good,” she said.
At the end of the day, she has one goal for visitors at Dollywood.
“Well, hope they go away thinking, ‘I’ve never has so much fun in my life,'” Parton said.