KINGSPORT, Tenn. - It was an extra special day for some kids in Kingsport. They got to hear all about a new rollercoaster ride coming to Dollywood, got got a tour of a fire station, and had a firefighter read them a book all before lunch.
That's not all -- Kingsport firefighters signed a fire hose that will become a permanent part of the new Firechaser Express ride.
As a way to honor our region's firefighters, Dollywood invited them to sign the commemorative fire hose that will become a part of the new ride.
Flanked by a vintage 1941 fire truck, Dollywood announced the opening of Firechaser Express, their newest rollercoaster opening next month.
As with about all of the rides at the park, there's a story behind it; this one is a little different. "We started to look at the story behind Firechaser Express, the new rollercoaster we're building. One of neat story elements was it was about volunteer fire departments. It was about volunteer firemen, folks that really risked their lives to protect the Great Smokey Mountains back in the 1940s," says Pete Owens with Dollywood.
It's that volunteering part that they hope they can instill into the hearts and minds of all that come to enjoy the attraction. "We thought it would be a great opportunity for us to not only have a great family ride, but also teach the lesson that anyone can volunteer. It doesn't matter if you're 5 or 95, there's an opportunity out there to volunteer," Owens said.
And you can't mention Dollywood without bringing up one of most successful ventures of Dolly's -- the Imagination Library.
That gave Kingsport firefighter Barry Brickey a chance to read a group of kids a very special book from the library. "We had a great reading event with Imagination Library. We talked about fire safety and read a fire department-themed book, and then our firefighters signed the hose that will go on display at the ride as a part of the Heroes Tour. We're really excited about being a part of that permanently," Brickey said.
That volunteerism is a big part of Imagination Library, which is backed by local volunteers. "Our vision is for all children to come to kindergarten in Sullivan County to love books and reading," Rhoda Bliese with the Sullivan County chapter said.
And what kid doesn't like a day at the fire hall?
The Firechaser Express will open at the park next month. That fire hose will be dedicated during a special ceremony to commemorate its symbolism May 4th, International Firefighters Day.