It’s the end of an era, as Dolly Parton announces that she’s stepping down from her role as grand marshal of the Homecoming Parade in her native Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The 2018 event will now be called Music in the Mountains Spring Parade, with Parton handing the special duty over to baseball star, Carl Ripken Jr.
Parton is passing the torch to Ripken after a 32-year run as grand marshal of the annual parade. Music in the Mountains will honor the city’s local heritage through the arts, featuring a variety of performances by local theatres, high school bands and dance and choral groups. The parade, which began in 1987, serves as the unofficial launch of Pigeon Forge’s tourism season.
“For 32 years, it’s been my honor and privilege to serve as the grand marshal,” Parton says in a press release. “In that time, Pigeon Forge has grown so much and so many new businesses and attractions have come to town, everyone agrees that this is the perfect time for me to step aside and share the spotlight with some other folks. Dollywood has hogged the spotlight long enough!”
Ripken is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame following a 20-year career with the Baltimore Orioles. He owns a series of sports complexes through his business venture, the Ripken Experience, which opened a youth baseball facility in Pigeon Forge in 2016.
“We want to thank Dolly for all that she has done, and we are so very grateful for the kindness and generosity she has shown to both our visitors and our residents,” Pigeon Forge City Manager Earlene Teaster says. “Given Pigeon Forge’s progress and unprecedented growth during the last three decades, both Dollywood and Pigeon Forge city officials recognized that we have so much to celebrate with our parade.”
The 2018 Music in the Mountains Spring Parade takes places on May 4.