Pigeon Forge Giving Away Tanker Truck Of Gas

Thursday, June 1, 2006
Driver Andy Garner and Pigeon Forge  Executive Director of Tourism, Leon Downey with the gas giveaway tanker. Click to enlarge.
Driver Andy Garner and Pigeon Forge Executive Director of Tourism, Leon Downey with the gas giveaway tanker. Click to enlarge.

The Pigeon Forge Great Gas Giveaway began at Memorial Day weekend with the symbolic arrival of an 8,500-gallon gasoline tanker, and it continues through the summer.

Volunteer members of the Pigeon Forge Gas Patrol are giving $30 gasoline gift certificates to visitors on a random basis.

Mayor Ralph Chance was one of the first to sign up for the Gas Patrol.

“Being mayor is pretty good, but I jumped at the opportunity to be captain of the Gas Patrol. There’s probably no better job anywhere in the tourism industry than meeting a stranger and giving him $30 of gasoline,” said Mayor Chance, mayor since 1989.

Mayor Chance and others wear bright red shirts with white letters that say “Gas Patrol” on the front and “Great Gas Giveaway” on the back while on their giveaway missions.

They encounter guests at the city’s many theaters, outlet malls, restaurants, attractions and specialty shops and at the city’s official welcome center. The Pigeon Forge Welcome Center is the only guaranteed giveaway location, where different times are chosen each day to surprise visitors.

”Gas Patrol members might walk into a restaurant and ask to find someone from Atlanta or Cincinnati or Nashville. Or they might make arrangements with a theater to welcome the entire audience and then choose whoever’s sitting in the middle of the 13th row,” said Leon Downey, executive director of tourism. “The pure randomness is lots of fun.”

Pigeon Forge, population 5,400, receives approximately 11 million visitors a year. Its major market area is within a radius of about 350 miles, but it draws guests from throughout the nation and from overseas.

“We can’t do a whole lot about the price at the pump, but we can have fun and give some of our guests a special treat,” Mr. Downey said.

The Smoky Mountains resort town is also offering tips to offset today’s gas prices.

1. Park your car, and then walk a bit or ride the Fun Time Trolley.
Trolley fare is only 50 cents, and routes weave throughout town. Take the trolley to Dollywood to bypass the theme park’s parking fee. If your lodging is along the Parkway, scores of attractions, shops and restaurants are only a short walk away.

”You’re not burning gas when you’re on the trolley or strolling along the Parkway,” Mr. Downey said.

2. Get a Pigeon Forge Value Card.
Discounts on lodging, entertainment, restaurants, shopping and attractions (even indoor skydiving) are on the Pigeon Forge Value Card. Cards are free at the Pigeon Forge Welcome Center at Traffic Light #0 near the Miracle Theater and WonderWorks.

Shopaholics can get a real buzz by using the Value Card to get a Belz Bucks Bonus Card at Belz Factory Outlet World. The Belz card offers a variety of discounts. Examples: 20% off any item at the Izod store; $10 off a $50 purchase at Camp Coleman; 20% off any purchase at Claire¹s; 20% off at Bass Shoes, including sale merchandise.

3. Find new discounts on the Web.
New discounts and printable coupons are posted frequently on the tourism department’s official Web site: www.MyPigeonForge.com.

4. Get a free day at Dollywood.
Yes, it’s possible with the “Arrive After 3, Get the Next Day Free” program from Tennessee’s most visited tourism attraction (2.5 million guests in 2005). To get a sense of extra value, visit the park Dolly Parton made famous on Wednesdays and Thursdays, generally the lowest attendance days.

5. Buy a Dollywood season pass.
If you’re returning to Pigeon Forge later this year, a Dollywood season pass pays for itself on the second visit. (A one-day adult ticket is $45.70, and a season pass is $75. Children ages 4-11 pay $34.55 for one day or $62 for a season pass.)

”Many Pigeon Forge visitors come in the summer, again in the fall and again for Christmas. If Dollywood is on their agenda, a season pass is a true bargain,” Mr. Downey said.

6. Get a theater combo.
There are more than a dozen musical theaters in Pigeon Forge and more than 20 different shows. Look for discounted combo tickets if you want to see more than one show. (Example: At Miracle, Black Bear Jamboree, Comedy Barn, Blackwood Breakfast Show and Triumphant Quartet, you get the third show free when you buy tickets to two.)

7. Buy a vacation package.
”Packages save you money. It’s as simple as that,” Mr. Downey said of programs
that combine lodging, shows and attractions into one purchase. The packagers buy their inventory in volume and get better prices than individuals can. Numerous packages are available at www.MyPigeonForge.com.

8. Enjoy Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
”The national park is our tourism anchor, and it’s free,” Mr. Downey said. It is America’s most visited national park and the largest wilderness area in the eastern U.S. Easy hiking trails, picnic grounds and magnificent scenery are adjacent to Pigeon Forge.


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