By LARRY VAUGHT
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Sometimes it’s nice not to act your age.
I did that Tuesday at Dollywood when my wife and I went to Dollywood’s Harvest Festival. Actually as terrific as that event always is thanks to the Southern gospel music, the real attraction for this 65-year-old guy this year was the Great Pumpkin LumiNights.
We arrived mid-afternoon because we knew when dusk hit, the illuminated pumpkins that had been hand carved were going to be spectacular to see. They were, too, with lights everywhere.
LumiNights was billed as the largest addition ever made to Dollywood’s fall festival and I’m certainly not one to disagree. There were pumpkins — and other Halloween decorations – everywhere. I really enjoyed watching a worker carve an intricate design into a pumpkin and let us see just how creative he was.
The candy apple slices we had covered with sprinkles, oreos and peanut butter chips were the pumpkin-themed snack we chose (and of course we took home cinnamon bread from the Grist Mill as we always do).
As always, the park was full of things to do before dark that included plenty of gospel music that brought visitors from a lot of state. But the show we liked best was Country Crossroads as six performers — three male, three female — performed classic country hits at the outdoor Valley Theater. It was a lively 30-minute show that made it impossible not to clap or tap your feet. Even better, the entertainers stayed after the show to mingle with spectators.
I got so inspired that I decided to ride the Drop Line, which is basically a big drop tower. It provided a great look at Dollywood from high in the air as you wait for the 200 foot drop that can reach a top speed of 77 miles per hour according to the ride operator as she smiled at me for asking.
The 24-seat gondola rotates as it climbs at 1.5 meters-per-second. A mother riding with her young son reminded him — and me — to take time to enjoy looking at the Great Smoky Mountains from so high in the air.
I didn’t know if I would scream. I didn’t know if my shoe, or shoes, might fall of. But guess what. It was terrific.
I would actually have ridden again if there had not been so many pumpkins to see — and more food to enjoy.
What a great way to start Halloween and you have through Oct. 28 to enjoy LumiNights at Dollywood.