The grand’ol Smokey Mountains. Tennessee’s #1 tourist spot. Packed with Bar-Bee-Q’s and fishing during the summer, and awesome slopes for skiing in the winter. If you ever
visited to the Smokey Mountains you probably had a thrill ride on the Tornado roller coaster in Dollywood, driven some fast go-karts in Pigeon Forge, or stared at a great white shark in Ripley’s Aquarium. Those are just a few of the awesome adventures the Smokey Mountains have to offer.
I remember in the 90’s when my family and I would drive to the Smokey Mountains on a Saturday as the clouds were nothing more than a drag from airplanes, and the weather was hot with a swift breeze. We traveled from east Knoxville area, but to me it felt like a vacation in a whole different state. As we drove through the mountains to Galinburg, I looked out my open window, and watched the water fall from the rocks, and constantly yawned to keep my ears from popping.
But, one thing I noticed growing up around the Smokey Mountains was that there weren’t many minority groups. As my family and I walked around Galinburg, if we ever saw another black person, it would be like finding a needle in a haystack. And, there weren’t many young people either. Most of the pedestrians were my parents age and white. I always thought it would have been a treat to find a new friend around my age in Galinburg, but the main treat I always left with was a souvenir and a candy apple.
The last time I visited the Smokey Mountains was for my 18th birthday in 2008. My family and I went to Pigeon Forge to ride go-karts, and I saw a fair amount of minority groups such as Blacks, Hispanics, and Asians. And, there were many teens riding the go-karts as well. But, what bewilders me is how this diversity happened. I can’t recall when the Smokey Mountains promoted diverse activities. The times I drove to the Smokies I saw nothing more than country singers, and Elvis Presley impersonators on the billboards.
There is no wonder why the Smokies have not been diverse formerly. Tennessee is a red state, and has been red since the Democratic Party decided to support the Civil Rights Movement in about 1948. In the 2008 election, John McCain held 51% of votes from Tennessee over Barack Obama. These political statistics show how Tennessee grew with more diversity and youth. This is a huge distinction from the state where the infamous Klu Klux Klan originated in Pulaski, and where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, and the diverse-friendly
I believe the growing diversity is a mere factor of job availability. The Smokey Mountains haven’t changed much since the 90s. There may be a few new shops here and there, but mainly all the attractions and shops remain the same. The outlet mall that features young clothing stores such as American Eagle, Aeropostale, and Hollister greatly effects the diversity of teens in the Smokies. I also noticed that few new restaurants have been placed in Galinburg. Ones such as the Mandarin House and Chinatown Restaurant. Growing up I merely remember eating at fast food restaurants or Shoney’s in the Smokies.
The diversity of cultures and ages are a great scenery for the Smokey Mountains. I do believe that the Smokies can promote more diverse entertainment, then again, the Smokies is known for its countryside attractions, not for having billboard rappers and pop stars. And, if minority groups are not visiting the Smokies for their sense of familiarity then they must be visiting the Smokies for what it’s always been––a great getaway for some country’ol fun.
Therefore, the best way for the Smokies to attract diversity is to remain the same. Every culture doesn’t have to feel at home when they leave home. Its better to take a vacation to a place that is out of the ordinary to experience a different way of life. Leave the diversity settings to international vacation spots such as Disney World and Las Vegas. The Smokies was not designed as a tourist spot, but welcoming to tourists, which allows people to visit and enjoy the Smokies for the originality of nature, and not merely for profitable attractions.
*Can You Feel The Love Tonight starts up* Mom: Is that Lion King? Abby: I forgot I even had that on there. Mom: Is that a French accent he’s singing with? Me: No, there’s no French accent. Abby: What are you talking about? Mom: That’s definitely a French accent he’s singing with. Abby: Oh my god, you’re right. This improves it so much.
*Pokemon theme starts to play* Abby: Just keep talking. Don’t question what’s playing. It’s not a Pokemon song, I swear. Me: … Abby: … Me: … Abby: I may or may not have every Pokemon song on my iPod.