Grand Ole Opry Tour
Of course, a visit to Nashville wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Grand Ole Opry. We drove over there mainly to see where we would be driving to attend the program we had tickets for and ended up taking a behind the scenes tour of the place. Out front they had it all decorated for fall. And they also had some big guitars to have some fun with too! We found out when we arrived that the Grand Ole Opry was celebrating 85 years! It is the longest running radio show in North America! And they have only been back in business in the Opry building for a few weeks after they were completely flooded in May of this year. The mall that it sits next to it was still closed and looked like it will continue to be closed for some time to come. The radio show had to be aired from other locations immediately following the flood until now.
We began our tour as if we were the star arriving to perform!! Kind of a cool dream!!This fountain sits outside of the Opry and was bequeathed by Minnie Pearl. It was given to her by her husband on their 25th wedding anniversary and had been made for her by sculptor Jesse Beasley. And as we walk inside, we are all met by an amazing portrait of Minnie herself! To give you an idea of where the water was during the floods, here is a photo that helps. The white paint on the bottom of this shows the level that the water was up to during the flood! The amount of work that had to be done to get the Opry back in business is incredible!! After we, the star, walk inside we have to check in at the desk. And then we might check our mail if we are actually an Opry member. Little Jimmy Dickens' mailbox is the only Opry member's box not in alphabetical order, such that his box is easily within reach for the 4'11" star. If they’d have kept in order, his would be somewhere at the top of the rows. After that we would proceed further down the hallway to our dressing room. They have quite a few of them too and some are even a little wild in their decorations. After you’re all dressed and waiting to go onstage, you would move over to this get ready room to hang out and tune your guitar if needed, etc. And then you would hear your name announced and it’s your turn to walk out on that famous stage!! I can’t imagine the feeling they must get looking out into the crowd! There are a lot of seats here that are normally full of smiling faces! It must be an amazing feeling!!! And we did get to actually sing while there!! Okay, so no, it really wasn’t just the two of us singing. That would chase the visitors away!! The whole tour group stood around and sang You Are My Sunshine. It still makes the statement true that we all sang on the Grand Ole Opry stage. We also got to stand on the famous circle on stage! This Grand Ole Opry House was built in 1974. Before that, the program was done at the historic Ryman Auditorium. When they decided to build the Grand Ole Opry House building, they wanted to still feel and bring with them the history left behind in the Ryman, so they actually cut a circle out of the original stage flooring and installed it in the middle of the stage at the new building. Pretty cool, huh? It allowed us and others to stand on the same stage as icons such as Hank Williams and Patsy Cline. Here’s a pic of the Ryman. If you think it looks somewhat like a church, there’s a reason for that. This was originally the Union Gospel Tabernacle. It was renamed in 1904 to honor Thomas Ryman because of his generous contributions of time and money to the construction of the building.
Here’s the view of the stage at the Opry from where the audience sits. After we finished up our tour, we took the short drive over to the Grand Ole Opry Hotel in hopes of walking around and checking it all out. When we arrived at the front gate, we found out that it still wasn’t reopened yet and wouldn’t be for another month. So, we told them we would turn around and Sal drove up closer to the hotel and I snapped this photo as we were turning around. Literally, as I was taking the photo, this security truck in front of us, immediately went into reverse and backed up to inform me that I was “not to take any pictures on the grounds.” Oops! I’m not exactly sure why, but I wasn’t going to push the issue. Sure is a beautiful building though!