Editorial: Old cars, new name
Those of you worried about the future of the Grand Rod Runs — and we're guessing that is primarily people who don't live here — can rev their engines with relief. The new owner of the Grand Hotel will continue to host the events with a new name but the same location.
Come April we'll have the Pigeon Forge Rod Run. Event promoter Rod Milligan plans to hold the annual event April 17-21, assuming he got Pigeon Forge Planning Commission approval Tuesday afternoon.
The name change was necessary since Ken Seaton, former owner of the Grand Hotel, apparently holds the rights to the name Grand Rod Run. Considering what happened to the Grand Hotel, a name change would have been in order whether Seaton wanted to protect the name or not.
The Grand Hotel won't be open during the April event. It remains closed while extensive renovations go on. Those top-to-bottom repairs and remodeling may take a while. In the meantime the parking lot can and will be used to house much of the rod run.
If there is a responsible and accurate poll out there on how locals feel about the rod runs, we haven't seen it. It would probably show a divided community. People who love to get up close to vintage automobiles can't wait for them to roll around. Others see the clogged Parkway, store parking lots jammed with static displays and few available spaces, and a stepped-up noise level, and cringe when a rod run is scheduled.
However, as long as people do come to the city to experience them, as long as hotels are occupied and restaurants are visited and money is spent, they will return. Some visitors will get drunk and wind up jailed. Check the arrest reports after a rod run weekend and you'll see this is true. There will be some rowdy behavior. For the most part, though, people are well-behaved and fascinated by the old cars and trucks. It is fun, even for the locals who venture out.
It's good to see someone step in to save the major rod runs in spring and fall.