Lewd Rod Run behavior discussed at Pigeon Forge Commission meeting

Apr. 16, 2014 @ 11:55 PM

What can the Pigeon Forge City Commissioners do to stop women from undressing on the Parkway during the weekend of Rod Run?

This is not a rhetorical question; it was asked at the Monday commission meeting by Pigeon Forge native Jake Suttles, who said he witnessed women undressing on the Parkway Saturday night and felt compelled to ask the commissioners to do what they could to make sure it does not happen again.

Suttles said he went on a fishing trip with his sons Saturday and got stuck in traffic on the Parkway coming back through Pigeon Forge that night.

“I made my boys lay down in the floor and go to sleep because there was fellas throwing beads at ladies, and they was undressing completely in the back of pickup trucks,” he said. “Somebody had bolted a pole in the back of a truck, and there was three ladies dancing on this pole, naked and undoing their clothing.”

Suttles mentioned another vehicle that was parked beside him. The man in that vehicle apparently hung blankets to cover the windows.

“He said that he’s been coming to Pigeon Forge for 25 years, and he said, ‘I ain’t bringing my grandkids back,’” Suttles said. “We couldn’t pull off the road, so we just sat there and watched women unclothe and men throw beads at them.”

In addition to women undressing, Suttles said he saw “a prostitute” who was on the sidewalk beside the Parkway.

“She would walk over and get in someone’s car for 10, 15 minutes, and then get out and go back over (to the sidewalk),” Suttles said. “I didn’t know what she was doing for awhile.”

Suttles did not blame the people’s activity on police negligence. “They weren’t doing it” when officers were around, he said.

“We’ve got one heck of a police force — my grandfather was police chief back in the ’60s,” Suttles said. “I love our police force, they’re good men. You won’t find a better chief than we have, and that’s the darn truth of it. But something’s changed.”

Suttles said he did not come to the meeting to “fuss at” the commissioners. But, he said, he felt if he did not say something, that would mean that he condoned the activity.

“This is not the Pigeon Forge I was raised in,” Suttles said. “I know y’all probably got a lot of reports on it. I’m just asking if there’s anything we can do.”

At the end of the meeting, Mayor David Wear proposed that the commission bring back the car show’s board to tackle this issue and any others that may arise.

Wear said that he knows from his experience as a police officer in the city that Rod Run weekends can be a stress for officers and residents. But, he said, the city should be careful in considering a course of action.

“I know the easy thing for people to say when we get the committee back together is, ‘Well, why don’t you just get rid of (Rod Run)?’” Wear said. “I think there are some very good people that come here and enjoy our town. I know there are some knuckleheads that travel with these car shows and try to turn it into a party. These are the ones who cause most of the problems. I don’t think you throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Wear said he was not sure if this was something that needed to be approved at the meeting or not, but that he felt bringing the car show board back would be the best thing for the commission to do in addressing this problem.

“Well, whether it’s needed or not, I make a motion to approve,” Vice Mayor Kevin McClure said. Commissioners voted in favor of the motion.

jold@themountainpress.com