By Candice Knight
If you are any human being that was ever born in the United States then you have heard of THE Dolly Parton. And if you’re too young to understand the name now then you will definitely know about her by adulthood. Not many celebrities can still walk around at age 70 in five inch heels, bouffant hair, full-on makeup and never miss a beat especially while filming around the clock in the brutal, humid southern heat of Georgia. But when you are Dolly Parton you can push those high heels through anything and still look good. Still poised, still professional, still sincere and still America’s icon.
Georgia is no stranger to the spotlight and one little town in particular named Covington has been steadily in the limelight. Covington, a small, growing town right outside of Atlanta has been nicknamed the Hollywood of the South. Originally it all started with The Dukes of Hazzard and The Heat of the Night now The Vampire Diaries and movies like Halloween II, Selma and American Reunion have put Covington more on the map.
People love to visit “The Square” and celebrity watch as filming is now a monthly norm to the city. But no matter the norm, nobody is ever prepared to see the country legend live in person. That hair, that wardrobe, that voice, that class! I can now see why millions have been in love with her for so many years. I am thirty years old and have always known about Dolly Parton but I gained a whole new appreciation and admiration for her this weekend as I watched the filming of Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love. I have always enjoyed her songs and music, I absolutely love The Dixie Stampede and I equally enjoyed her 2015 movie, The Coat of Many Colors. Of course I was not the only one that liked her movie that gave the world a glimpse of her childhood. Over 13 million people tuned in on December 10, 2015 to watch the televised premiere of where Dolly Parton was raised. The movie ranked as the most-watched televised film in many years. So it’s no mystery that whatever Dolly Parton touches turns into something great. She has made herself a household name and legacy but no matter the size of her hair, chest or fortune, she is still down to earth and classy.
Dolly Parton was in town filming the Christmas sequel to her 2015 movie. The Square was beautifully decorated with Christmas décor, 50’s storefronts and antique automobiles. Sitting there watching the cast in their full 50’s attire, listening to the old Greyhound bus crank up and watching the life of Dolly’s childhood unfold, you could not help but feel yourself go back in time. Old car fumes, brooms sweeping the sidewalks, engaging townsfolk conversations and hearing young Alyvia Alyn Lind sing and portray Dolly’s childhood gave you an experience that made you feel like you were actually there in real-life.
The production crew and cast did take-after-take, scene-after-scene until late into the night. The stargazers never seen nor heard Dolly get frazzled, upset or exhausted and they surely never seen her out of her trademarked “Dolly Get-Up”. You know you’re fierce when you can wear stilettos like they’re bedroom slippers for hours on end. When the last scene wrapped up, the production crew kindly allowed us celebrity cronies on set as Dolly Parton was being whisked away by her security detail. Longtime fan and admirer, Angela Ballard of Oxford, yelled out “Hey Dolly, we love you! You’re awesome!” Unexpectedly Dolly stopped and turned around to thank Ballard and the rest of the fans. Dolly genuinely thanked everyone for coming and for their continued support. But Mrs. Dolly was not the only crowd favorite. Ricky Schroder personally walked over to the excited crowd of onlookers and patiently posed with fans to have one picture after another taken. Schroder kindly directed the fans to make sure their camera flash was on and even went as far as to make sure the picture turned out clear before posing with the next fan. He stood for pictures until every last person was satisfied. Schroder was a true gentleman and a class act, proof of why he is still a successful former child star.
After Ricky Schroder drove away into the dark and filming resumed, whispers began about who was the actor with the old broom. Local resident of over fifty years, Angela Ballard told other onlookers that she thought the blue dress store sweeper was Dolly’s own sister, Stella Parton, and how she often played in her sister’s movies. Indeed it was Stella Parton playing Ms. Bass, the broom yielding store owner. As Stella took off her wool, winter coat and gracefully patted her perfectly styled hair and adjusted her wire-rimmed glasses on her nose, I waved at her as I sat on the curb outside The Little Store as she sat down to rest her feet. Unbeknownst to us, she warmly waved back with an enduring smile. As Ballard blew Stella a thank you kiss, the star immediately blew a kiss back. Stella was even seen welcoming an older woman on set to personally chat and watch them finish up filming.
Even the director openly thanked the fans several times for being a great and abiding audience. He was quite humorous as well and was heard joking throughout the longing night. It definitely was a special treat to witness Christmas in July on the good ‘ole Covington Square with the multi-talented Dolly Parton. She is the epitome of class and gratitude and she also carefully chose a movie cast that was equally respectful and sincere. Parton and her crew are welcomed back anytime to The Hollywood of the South town. Be sure to tune in to watch Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love scheduled to air November 30th on one of NBC. Be sure to watch the original The Coat of Many Colors if you haven’t seen it yet, a movie you will surely enjoy!