Dollywood staff sewing masks for East Tenn. Children’s Hospital, provide ponchos to first responders

Coronavirus

Dollywood stage manager Addie Counts works on a face mask to be donated to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Dollywood staff members are used to seeing smiles on children’s faces this time of year. However, with the park closed amid the coronavirus outbreak the Dollywood hosts, costume, and wardrobe teams are actually working hard to cover those faces up.

A number of handmade facemasks line a table in Dollywood’s Costume Shop. The facemasks will be delivered to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

The theme park’s wardrobe and costume shop teams began producing reusable face masks last week to give to patients, nurses and doctors at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. The wardrobe team produced 350 masks in one day. The costume shop team created 250 adult masks and 250 children’s masks over the course of two days.

Members of both teams have asked to continue making the masks from home, so company officials are providing supplies currently on hand to allow the teams to produce additional masks.

“We are blessed to have talented hosts working in our wardrobe and costume shops,” Eugene Naughton, vice president of Dollywood Park Operations said. “East Tennessee Children’s Hospital reached out to us to see if we could help, and as soon as we received the call, our teams started working.

“We knew this was the right thing to do, and our hosts have done an amazing job producing these masks. We’re just glad to do our part.”

Dollywood first aid and safety team members Jerry Moore, front left, and Al Jenkins, front right, present ponchos to members of the Pigeon Forge Fire Department. The group made sure to practice social distancing during the delivery.

Also last week, Dollywood’s safety team provided 200 ponchos to the Sevier County Emergency Management Agency, Pigeon Forge Fire Department and the Sevier County Ambulance Service. Due to the ongoing medical supply shortage, the groups are in dire need of gowns that typically are used to protect first responders from bodily fluids that may be present in scenes where they are needed to perform life-saving measures.

“When we heard they were in need of this vital personal protective equipment, we knew we had to find a way to assist,” Naughton said. “These folks are on the front lines every day and we have to do all we can to keep them safe.

“We have a close working relationship with these groups — in fact, a number of our EMTs on staff also work for these local agencies — so we’re honored to be able to help them in this way.”

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