Published December 22, 2020 / Last Updated December 22, 2020
Dolly shares some special Christmas stories and sends a holiday message to Jolene.
It’s Christmas and Dolly is sharing a few of her favorite childhood memories. She recalls the excitement in their home when it came time to get and decorate a tree. This tender memory comes to life within the lyrics of “Comin’ Home For Christmas.” The handmade ornaments and tinfoil star were some of the most treasured in those days, mainly because of the special care and love her mother put into the preparations. Dolly said,
“In those early days, we didn’t even have electricity so we didn’t have electric lights for it. Mama was always great with making things out of colored paper or different rags that she would tie. We could make bows out of colored rags…Mama always made everything special.”
Dolly shares this memory and more in her Christmas message. She also adds a last-minute holiday message for Jolene.
Team DollyDolly’s Christmas Traditions And A Note To Jolene
Published December 18, 2020 / Last Updated December 18, 2020
Guests can enjoy sweet treats including potato candy and beautifully decorated cookies at Dollywood during Smoky Mountain Christmas.
This year’s event features more than five million lights and the return of indoor entertainment. Also, beginning Friday, December 18, guests can enjoy nightly fireworks as Dollywood ends 2020 with a bang!
During Smoky Mountain Christmas, Dollywood guests love the special culinary items available throughout the park. With many families creating their own holiday meals this season, culinary hosts are providing a behind-the-scenes look at some of the most popular items.
In this video, Verlee Curtis tells the story behind a regional (and Dollywood) favorite, potato candy. Look for this Appalachian favorite in Dollywood’s Sweet Shoppe.
Decorating Tips From The Pros
Dollywood’s Head Pastry Chef, Giget Davis provides tips to help your family decorate homemade cookies this holiday season.
For more information about this year’s festival and a park operating calendar, please visit Dollywood.com or download the Dollywood app.
Published December 11, 2020 / Last Updated December 11, 2020
Dolly Parton teams up with Edge Beauty to create a line of signature fragrances set to launch in Spring 2021
Dolly Parton and beauty industry supergroup Edge Beauty, Inc. have inked a long-term license agreement for the creation, development, and distribution of the iconic entertainment superstar’s signature fragrance, in a deal brokered by IMG.
The fragrances will be inspired by Dolly’s own signature scent, with the first collection set to launch in Spring 2021.
“Fragrance has always played a major role in my life – I wear my own combination of scents every day,” said Dolly Parton. “I am so excited to share this dream with my fans. Developing my own brand and scent with Edge Beauty has been an amazing experience, and I am looking forward to becoming a big part of the fragrance community.”
“We are thrilled to share a new facet of Dolly’s personality with her millions of fans and admirers. She strikes a universal chord that resonates globally in the hearts of people across all age groups and many cultures,” noted Steve Mormoris, CEO of Edge Beauty, Inc. “The Dolly Parton franchise will be a powerhouse pillar for Edge Beauty and we are delighted to build Dolly’s brand.”
Gary Krakower, Vice President of Licensing at IMG – Dolly’s exclusive global licensing representative – added:
“Dolly has always been passionate about fragrances and creating her own signature scent, so it was top of our list and we are confident we have found the perfect partner in Edge Beauty. Unsurprisingly, since we started working with Dolly to create her first branded lifestyle products, the response from both fans and the industry has been huge, so watch this space as there’s a lot more to come!”
Published December 8, 2020 / Last Updated December 9, 2020
People behind-the-scenes of the Imagination Library share their passion for the program and its mission.
Who paves the way for Imagination Library books to arrive at a child’s home, on time? Who makes sure that each book is addressed properly to each individual child? Who reads every book to evaluate quality, age level and content? Who spends days, weeks, months fundraising to ensure books are free for all registered children? In these Front Porch interviews you’ll meet a few of the people who have worked hand-in-hand to grow the program and introduce it to new cities, states and countries. Our Managing Editor, Jacob Timmons, connects via video call with David Dotson, Jeff Conyers and Ann Staup to talk about some of the key milestones of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. They share funny stories, talk about the challenges and rewards and even share their own ideas for writing a children’s book.
Growing The Program
David Dotson is the chief executive officer of the Dollywood Foundation, the nonprofit organization which houses the Imagination Library. David joined the Imagination Library team shortly after it launched. He led the initial replication efforts which grew the program. When it started, the Imagination Library mailed around 1600 books to children in Dolly’s home county in East Tennessee. When replication of the program was introduced more counties came on board followed by different states and eventually countries. In that effort, David worked closely with Jacob Timmons, who also happens to be president of S.D. Professionals, LLC, the company that created a fully-automated operation that streamlined the entire process for the Imagination Library program. In a recent Zoom call, David and Jacob talked about the early days of replicating the program in new areas.
In the interview, David is also quick to praise the unsung heroes of the Imagination Library. The people who “made our dream, their dream.” He said,
“There is always one, two, three, four people in an organization or in a community who are really the heroes, the unknown heroes…They are some of the most talented, most committed, most inspiring people in the world.”
The Joy Of Each Book
Jeff Conyers, brought on in 2011, is the President of the Dollywood Foundation and shares David and Jacob’s passion for growth and expansion. His devotion to the Imagination Library is unmistakable. The consummate champion for the program, Jeff is devoted to seeing each local affiliate succeed. He credits part of his enthusiasm to experiencing first-hand the benefits of monthly books arriving in the mail. Jeff said,
“I’ve had the opportunity to see it in my own family, right at home, and watch my kids grow up getting a book in the mail every month. Seeing them run up to me saying, ‘Hey, Daddy Daddy, will you read this book to me?’ And I know that’s happening in millions of homes all across the world right now because of the work that we get to come in and do every day.”
1.7 Million Books Each Month
The actual mailing of the books is a critical part of the Imagination Library’s story. Jacob called up Ann Staup the owner of Direct Mail Services, Knoxville, TN, to talk about how the books move from a warehouse in East Tennessee to the doorsteps of millions of children. Her business is sometimes referred to as “the little company who could” because they made such incredible strides to facilitate the needs of the program. For Ann and her team, this work is more than a labor of love, it’s challenged her to adapt and grow in many ways that she could never have imagined. A mailing list that started at 1600 books in 1995 now increases each month and the current monthly total sitting at 1.7 million books! In the interview, Ann talks about the automated mailing process, her devoted team and milestones she has witnessed over the years. Ann said,
“It’s a passion to make sure we are doing everything we can to make sure this program grows, the way that Dolly wants it to grow.”
Imagination Library Film Premiere
A new feature-length documentary spotlights Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and the thousands of local affiliates around the world who help make Dolly’s dream come true. The Library That Dolly Built will premiere on Facebook worldwide on December 9, 2020, at 7 PM EST. Additionally, a European premiere is set for Thursday, December 10 at 7 PM GMT. The film will premiere in Australia on Friday, December 11 at 7 PM AEDT.
The film features the music of Dolly Parton and is narrated by actress and author, Danica McKellar. It is produced by Land Grant Films, directed by journalism professor Nick Geidner, edited by video instructor Clinton Elmore and crewed by 15 University of Tennessee students.
Team DollyThe Passion Behind The Imagination Library
Published December 7, 2020 / Last Updated December 9, 2020
Dolly Parton brings honor to her father and his legacy through her Imagination Library.
Often in life, people face seemingly insurmountable challenges and for some their response to those challenges creates opportunities for greatness. In some cases, this transition can be immediate and in others, it can simmer for years.
In 1995, already an icon of American pop culture and an international success, Dolly Parton launched her Imagination Library. Today, it’s a global book gifting organization that has gifted nearly 150 million free books to children around the world. On many occasions, Dolly has shared her inspiration for the program. She said,
“When I started the Imagination Library, it was to honor my Daddy. My Daddy was so smart but he felt crippled with the fact that he couldn’t read and write.”
True, the concept was born in the mid-1990s, but in Dolly’s mind, the program actually sprang from a seed planted many, many years earlier. To fully understand the birth of the Imagination Library, we must first look at the life and childhood of Robert Lee Parton, Dolly’s father.
Many today know Robert Lee as played by Ricky Schroder in the popular NBC movies Coat of Many Colors and Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love. The real Robert Lee was born in March of 1921. The son of Walter and Bessie Parton, Robert Lee grew up in what was then a typical way with farm work being a big part of his childhood. For Robert Lee, and many children raised by farmers and sharecroppers, circumstances required them to abandon school and labor to help feed their families. It wasn’t seen so much as a choice but a duty.
Unfortunately, for Dolly’s father, this way of life meant that he didn’t get the chance to learn to read and write. Of course, he supplemented these skills by becoming a knowledgeable farmer, shrewd deal maker and skilled tradesman. He may have raised his family with humble means but he instilled a wealth of love and knowledge in each of his children. Still, he would carry the weight of illiteracy for much of his life. That is until Dolly made it her mission to set the wrong, right. Dolly said,
“When I got this idea to do the Imagination Library I wanted to get Daddy involved in it. I wanted him to help me with that so he could take the pride in that and so he did. He got to live long enough to hear the kids call me the Book Lady.”
Dolly doesn’t just credit her father’s disadvantage with being the inspiration for her Imagination Library, she sees it as his divine calling. If life was determined to keep him from learning to read as a child, Dolly believes God was just as determined to create something amazing because of it. Dolly said,
“I kept telling him, everybody has a different purpose in life and if nothing else maybe this is why you couldn’t read and write. Maybe God knew a long time ago that I was going to do something that would help millions of kids and people that couldn’t read and write. So I tried to give him that pride.”
In 2000, Robert Lee Parton departed this world knowing his daughter had made a difference in the lives and hearts of many children through the books gifted by her Imagination Library. At that time, the program was in the infant stages of a national replication effort that would expand its reach beyond Sevier County, Tennessee. Today, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library has gifted nearly 150 million books to children in five countries. In 2018, Dolly Parton, the daughter of Robert Lee Parton – a humble farmer who never had the chance to learn to read and write – dedicated the 100th million book, which she authored herself, to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. Indeed, an incredible way to honor her father.
The Imagination Library’s full story will play out in a new documentary called The Library That Dolly Built, premiering exclusively on Facebook on December 9, 2020, at 7 PM Eastern.
Team DollyHonoring Robert Lee Parton…One Book At A Time