PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Visitors might still be pouring in for last-minute summer vacations, but Dollywood is already getting into the holiday spirit.
Since mid-May, crews have been putting up lights to prepare for the park's Smoky Mountain Christmas in November.
Matt Young, a Dollywood events manager, said lighting teams are on the ground Monday to Sunday working mostly at night since it is hard to get the job done with guests around.
These crews will work from the back of the park to the front all the way up until the day before the main event on Nov. 9.
Why do they need to start so early?
Well, Young said they have roughly 5 million lights to hang up on buildings and trees all over Dollywood.
"It's a very meticulous process. We're not just kind of throwing colors at random," Young said. "There's a whole design process of how we choose what colors on what buildings in what area. Each area wants to have its own different feel."
The teams try to reuse as many lights as possible, but if they are too dull or faded, they must be repaired or replaced.
"Our lighting teams are very proud of what they do and they want to deliver a great product," Young said. "So we never want to put anything out there that's too faded or if there's a difference in color or anything else."
To ensure all the holly jolly beauty of the park at Christmastime, crews leave the lights plugged in while they are hanging them up to make sure they are working.
Once all the lights are hung on a building, they are powered down until a week before Smoky Mountain Christmas. During that week, crews go back through the park to make sure everything is ready to go.
"I don't think you could dial [Smoky Mountain Christmas] to just one thing," Young said. "There's a reason Dollywood has always been the winner of the best Christmas event with the Golden Ticket awards. It's a special time at Dollywood."
When the park closes in January, crews work until March to take down all the lights once more, but that doesn't mean they are out of sight, out of mind.
"The planning process starts out about a year in advance. While we're hanging Christmas lights now, we're already working on our plans for next year," Young said.
Young said visitors should be looking for some new Christmas decor in Wildwood Grove this year.