Hidden Biblical Secrets in Gatlinburg

November 8, 2009

Hepburn as Mary

Dan Brown and his Da Vinci Code can’t hold a bayberry candle to the symbology now present in Gatlinburg.

Christus Gardens, the longtime Biblical wax museum in this tasteful town, closed down, but has risen from the grave in the form of Christ in the Smokies Museum & Gardens, which offers the public a look at the birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus in 11 scenes containing over 100 wax figures and open daily. The Museum and Garden, however, has a delightful secret: many of the figures now appearing in scenes from the life of Christ were once waxen versions of movie and television stars in the Hollywood Wax Museum.

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Tennessee Trails lead to Pandora music and Facebook

November 8, 2009


Tennessee’s Department of Tourist Development is rolling out a new way of promoting the state: Discover Tennessee Trails and Byways. According to a news release, “The concept behind the program is to leverage Tennessee’s visitor brands including Chattanooga, Knoxville, Great Smoky Mountains, Memphis and Nashville. Self-guided driving trails extend visitor’s stays by showcasing nearby regional gems such as Jack Daniel Distillery, Trenton’s Teapot Museum, Gray Fossil Site and Museum, the homes of three American presidents, our award-winning state parks and agritourism sites.”

You can see more here, but not much. I’m kind of surprised they have released this concept when so much work remains to be done on it.

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Post Apocalyptic Pigeon Forge

July 7, 2009


This year’s award for most imaginative Tennessee tourism public relations campaign goes to Bohan Advertising Marketing for the cover of their media kit for Pigeon Forge. The painting depicts a utopian Pigeon Forge of the future, where smoke-belching vehicles have been banned; where no garish signs visually assault travelers; and where bucolic, Heidi-like pastures rise gently to the surrounding mountains.  Surely, Smokies tourism heaven must look something like this.

Arrowmont gets respite–for now

October 18, 2008

The economic crash of October has saved Arrowmont from being forced to leave Gatlinburg.  Fortunately, the developers with the big plans have bailed, but the die has been cast: The Pi Phi fraternity will sell that property sooner or later.

Arrowmont has seen an outpouring of support from all over, and now, during this respite, is the time to rally those groups and individuals to get the School on a firmer financial footing, assess what it would take to move, or make a good case for staying in Gatlinburg.

The worse thing that Arrowmont could do is go back to business as usual–head in the sand–and then act surprised when Pi Phi finally finds a buyer down the line.  This whole episode should serve as a wake-up call.  It remains to be seen if the School has leadership with savvy to heed it.

Arrowmont still looks backward instead of facing the music

September 25, 2008

Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts has released a statement with the quaint, long and winding title of Frequently Asked Questions regarding the Potential Sale of Property Currently Being Leased to Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts by Pi Beta Phi Fraternity.

They could have saved space by calling it Clueless in Gatlinburg.

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Beale Street Blues–and not the musical kind

June 27, 2008

The July/August issue of The Atlantic Monthly has a sad story about the rise of crime, especially murder, in mid-sized American cities. In the article, Memphis is the poster child for this rise, along with Florence, South Carolina; Kansas City, Missouri; and Orlando, Florida, to name a few cities.

The cause of this crime rate appears to be the dispersal of public housing residents into neighborhoods outside of the inner city. While some individuals and families take the opportunity to better themselves, others bring their problems–and trouble-causing family members, boyfriends, etc.–with them. There is a direct correlation between crime and people whose rentals are subsidized by the federal government–“Section 8 rentals.”

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Memphis among worst cities for bicycling

May 16, 2008

Bicycling magazine has listed Memphis as one of the three worst cities in the country for bicycling. The other two are Miami and Dallas. According to a piece in the Commercial Appeal, Memphis has no bike lanes because the city has antiquated storm grates that can catch a bike wheel and cause the rider to wreck.

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Handling Panhandlers in Memphis

April 25, 2008

Nothing turns off a visitor to a city–in Tennessee or anywhere else–faster than getting verbally abused by a homeless or deranged person. Aggressive panhandling poses a challenge to city governments. People have a right to walk on sidewalks, and being poor is not a crime. Yet tourists and locals have a reasonable expectation of coming downtown and not getting involved in a confrontation.

Memphis panhandler washing the windows of a vehicle

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Mini-menus great for visitors

April 25, 2008

Ever come to a new town and want to find a restaurant? If you go to a hotel, you sometimes get a notebook with menus in “Do not remove from room” notebooks or an unwieldy stack of laminated menus and take-out sheets at the front desk–not much help at all. While spending the weekend in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, TennesseeWife and I ran across a great idea called “Mountain Menus.” We saw them in the Amtrak Station in this display:

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Bristol offers downloadable audio for walking tour

January 5, 2008

Bristol, Tennessee and Virgina is a compact, very walkable place, and now the Bristol Convention & Visitors Bureau offers a downloadable PDF map and accompanying MP3s to guide visitors through the site of the “Big Bang of Country Music.” Go to the site and look for the “Historic Downtown Walking Tour” link.


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