One year later: Downtown Gatlinburg remains bustling, some resid - WSMV News 4

One year later: Downtown Gatlinburg remains bustling, some residents struggle to rebuild

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A year after the wildfires, downtown Gatlinburg remains bustling with tourists. Some of those people who work so hard to entertain the crowds every night are struggling with the road to rebuilding.

"It's that time of the season," said Chris MacPherson of Gatlinburg. "People want to have a little joy and merriment. You just come here and forget about your worries and just laugh for two hours straight."

Night falling over Gatlinburg means it's almost showtime. On the strip for 40 years, Sweet Fanny Adams Theatre has kept alive by that "Singin' In the Rain" philosophy: "make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh, make 'em laugh."

"Welcome back," said MacPherson, smiling to a group of familiar guests. "Come on in!"

MacPherson runs the place. Pictures on the walls tell his family's long history here.

"I enjoy performing," he said. "We've got fans of the theater that come back year after year.

"If you already have tickets, come on in," he added, shuffling more people inside.

Getting crowds out of a cold night and handing them some hot popcorn, there's no place MacPherson would rather be.

"By making other people laugh and smile, I can forget about my own personal worries and cares," he said just a short while before performing a Vaudeville-style act on stage.

News 4 first met MacPherson a year ago when he gave us a tour of what remained of his Rattlesnake Hollow home.

"This is my carport here, and we'll go through the kitchen," he laughed, smiling despite walking through the debris of his home.

"My house was reduced to a foundation," he told us. "I used to come here as a kid because this was my grandparents' house before I bought it. It was devastating. I keep trying to tell myself it's just stuff. It's just a lot of emotional memories attached to this place."

MacPherson told us then, come Thanksgiving 2017, he'd be back in a new home.

"I still don't have a house," he said this week. "I've gone through about five different contractors, companies coming into town saying they're going to help and then jacking up their prices. I got a low ball offer from the insurance. None of my personal property was covered, just the house itself and my work sheds."

For every house on Rattlesnake Hollow, there's a different story, a different situation. MacPherson's neighbors across the street have already rebuilt and moved back in. Other neighbors haven't rebuilt either. Some properties on the road are still covered in shattered glass.

"I'm ready to build," MacPherson said. "I eventually will have a house."

Still staying with family and hoping to find the right contractor to begin work in the spring, MacPherson said there are no hurdles that can bring him down, not while he has the theatre as his escape.

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