If you grew up in Nashville in the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s, it was your second home. Your parents would drop you off and would come back and pick you up at closing time. There were no worries for the parents and the only worry we had is that we would run out of money or get yelled at for stopping the Tin Lizzy and switching cars. All we wanted for Christmas was a season pass to go there and anything other than that, was OK.
Twenty-five years ago, Opryland USA closed it’s doors and this city has never been the same. Not even close. It was our rite of passage to go to that park and have an absolute blast. Shoot, many of us ended up working there at some point. I worked in the record store right when you walked into the park and I remember Larry Gatlin coming in and I acted as if he was Mick Jagger. Star struck!
I know that time moves on and things change and that is just the way life works, whether we like it or not and we never get asked either. With Opryland USA closing, it was a prime example of that.
Follow me on this for a second, if you don’t mind. Remember in Star Wars where Obi-Wan told Vader, “If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.” Now compare this to the legend that has now become the Opryland USA memory. The park was taken down, all of it, and yet it is as powerful in our minds and in our lives to a certain extent, than it was back then. Strike up a conversation with someone about the park and the stories will come flowing back to you. Tell me how many places do that to you. Not many.
If you want an example, then look no further than highway signs around Nashville. Yes, there are still signs up that say “Opryland USA,” and it just makes me smile to no end. Gone twenty-five years and yet, signs telling you how to get to Opryland USA are still there.
Beautiful. Just beautiful to still see them. You have noticed them and probably not even paid attention because in a place in our hearts and in our minds, that park is still there.
The sky lift, the roller coasters, the Grizzly River Rampage, Do Wah Diddy City, and on and on and on. The rides, the memories and everything in between. We all could walk that park with our eyes closed and would know exactly where were going. No phones, either, thank God. I thought time stood still while we were all there.
Twenty-five years can pass in the blink of an eye. And for all of us that spent many a summer there, that blink contains a lifetime of memories.