Dolly Parton
Knoxvile News Sentinel
May 25, 2007
Insider: Dolly delights as she spreads Sevier with cheer
By Terry Morrow

Why'd you come here

Looking like that

In your high-heel boots

And your painted-on jeans

All decked out

Like a cowgirl's dream

Waltzing right in here

Looking like that

-- Dolly Parton, "Why'd You Come In Here Looking Like That?"

A tireless Dolly Parton was acting more like Santa Claus when she invaded her native Sevier County for three days earlier this week.

She gave away money, watches and even a bronze horse. She dutifully stood for hundreds of photo opportunities. She had the wheelers and dealers of Sevier eating out of her petite hands.

She did everything but wear a big old red suit and come out in a sleigh.

But she did wear angelic white and make one big splashy arrival in a massive construction truck for one of her many public appearances.

Parton's flurry of activity was quite the adventure. She started out on Saturday paying tribute to former duet partner Porter Waggoner at the Grand Ole Opry.

Then on Sunday she darted over to Smokies Stadium in Sevierville, where she performed for 8,000 fans in an outdoor concert. The proceeds of the show were earmarked for the new Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center and cancer center.

Donations from her Dollywood theme park and Dixie Stampede attraction equaled $500,000. On top of that, Parton donated her resources for the outdoor concert on Sunday night that raised another $500,000 or so.

During a reception after the Sunday night show, she greeted the big dogs in Sevier -- the movers and shakers who paid out big bucks in support of a new hospital. She stood on a small stage as close to 400 mucky mucks took turns having a photo made with her.

"She's very gracious in that regard," one of her staff told the Insider. " ... She even stayed late enough to have a pictures made with the security people."

Among those who stood in line to have a photo made with her that night were Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge Gary Wade (to whom Parton often refers as her high school sweetheart, though it's not really true), County Mayor Larry Waters and Gatlinburg City Manager Cindy Ogle.

By the time Parton was finished, it was hitting close to midnight.

The party didn't stop there. On Monday morning she made a dramatic entrance on a construction truck during the hospital's official groundbreaking. Of course, she made the most of the entrance, explaining to the crowd she wasn't about to enter on a hoe.

No, it takes a giant truck to handle a woman like Parton.

(Naturally, she made some double-meaning word play with "hoe"; oh, those hospital folks love it when Parton works blue.)

Pat Summitt's ex, Sevier County banker R.B. Summitt, was among the biggest of wigs -- pardon the Parton reference -- that turned out for that ceremony.

The event also brought out folks like Convenient Healthcare CEO Tony Spezia and Sevier Medical Center President Emily Wilhoit.

Though the groundbreaking was supposed to be by invitation only, a few of Parton's diehard fans broke in. One was all giddy about snagging a photo with her as she left the ceremony despite security being all around her.

Parton made quite the impression at the groundbreaking, making references to her plastic surgery and jokes about her love of photo opportunities.

On Monday afternoon, to mark the 20th anniversary of Dixie Stampede, Parton "spent quite a bit of time with the employees," a Dolly source told the Insider.

She did photos with them and handed out watches for employees who have been around since the start.

Parton also performed at the Stampede's pre-show before bestowing another gift -- this one went to the city of Pigeon Forge's Department of Tourism. It was a "very large bronze horse that stands 8 or 9 feet tall," the tipster said.

Like the bears that decorated Knoxville's downtown, Pigeon Forge is planting decorative animals around town.

Parton's horse can be seen at the Pigeon Forge Department of Tourism hospitality center.

There's no rest for the Parton. She's off to Los Angeles now to tape an episode of the Disney Channel hit "Hannah Montana," starring Miley Cyrus and her dad, Billy Ray Cyrus.

Parton will reprise her role as the title character's wise godmother.

* WORDS TO LIVE BY. "All you women are going to be asking me: 'Are you going to be bringing any of your L.A. doctors here?' I just might!"-- Dolly Parton, joking that she might bring her Hollywood plastic surgeons to Fort Sanders Sevier Medical Center.