Winterfest lights named a top display

Travel writers plug local holiday lights
Jan. 01, 2013 @ 11:34 PM

The Society of American Travel Writers has included the lights of Winterfest on its list of The Top 10 Lesser-Known (But Just as Bright!) Holiday Lights in the U.S.

Winterfest lights are displayed in the cities of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg. The display ranks eighth on the society's list, which also includes light displays in Kauai, Hawaii; Charlotte, N.C.; Pine Mountain, Ga.; and Louisville, Ky.

The Winterfest lights will remain lit through February.

"Designs include snowflakes, rocking horses, waterfalls, trains, bears, a gristmill and toy soldiers, all lining the Parkway leading to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park," the society notes.

"I guess it's no surprise that people are recognizing our beauty," said Brenda McCroskey, Chief Executive Officer of the Sevierville Chamber of Commerce. "A lot of people have been coming here to enjoy the holiday festivals and the shopping, for a long time."

But, she added, "There has not been that much recognition on a national level."

Based in Milwaukee, Wis., the Society of American Travel Writers is an organization of more than 1,100 journalists, public relations workers and other professionals. It was founded in 1955.

"Notices like these are much more powerful than direct advertising," said McCroskey of the list. "This comes from an unbiased source. This says someone else who has credentials thinks we're doing a good job."

Honors related to Sevier County's winter offerings are rare, McCroskey said. "We tend to get recognition more for springtime and summertime activities."

Winterfest was established to boost the Sevier County economy during the cold months. Upcoming Winterfest events include Wilderness Wildlife Week, the Tennessee Winter Special Olympics and the Rose Glen Literary Festival.

Winterfest, McCroskey said, "has an impact when we need it."

kburns@themountainpress.com