Gatlinburg man planning protest to open national park

Gatlinburg man planning protest to open national park

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Jeremiah Spelas has only lived in Gatlinburg since April, but says as an artist, the national park gives him a lot of inspiration for his paintings. Jeremiah Spelas has only lived in Gatlinburg since April, but says as an artist, the national park gives him a lot of inspiration for his paintings.
Jeremiah Spelas says he has had enough with the Smokies closure and is planning a protest to get government officials to act. Jeremiah Spelas says he has had enough with the Smokies closure and is planning a protest to get government officials to act.
The protest will be held at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sign on Newfound Gap road Saturday, October 12, starting at 10 a.m. The protest will be held at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sign on Newfound Gap road Saturday, October 12, starting at 10 a.m.
Spelas has created flyers for the protest and posted them all around Gatlinburg. He is asking people to spread the word about the protest. Spelas has created flyers for the protest and posted them all around Gatlinburg. He is asking people to spread the word about the protest.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

GATLINBURG (WATE) - As the government shutdown enters its tenth day, people are getting more and more frustrated with what is being closed.

In East Tennessee, the closure of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is causing the biggest outcry.     

One Sevier County man says he has had enough and is planning a protest to get government officials to act.

Jeremiah Spelas has only lived in Gatlinburg since April, but says as an artist, the national park gives him a lot of inspiration for his paintings.  

He says he felt compelled to organize this protest.

"I'm just a guy that waits tables," said Spelas. "I'm an artist. I'm just outraged by the fact that I feel that's our land."    

Spelas is planning on having the protest at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park sign on Newfound Gap road Saturday, October 12, starting at 10 a.m.

The protest will be just two miles from the Sugarlands Visitors Center.

"Everything we do creates a ripple, so I don't expect to open the park. But as we spread awareness, other places will try to do the same," said Spelas.

Spelas has created flyers for the protest and posted them all around Gatlinburg.

He is asking everyone to spread the message on social media.     

All the visitors 6 News spoke with support Jeremiah's mission.

"We sure will," said park visitor Ed VanBrunt. "We'll put it on Facebook, let our friends know. Show them the flyers, definitely support it."

"Definitely support it," said park visitor Nicole Groves. "I would be at it if I could. I have to drive back to Kansas City though."    

Spelas says he is not sure how many people will show up to the protest, but just hopes it makes a difference.

Since parking is limited on Newfound Gap Road, Spelas is asking people who are coming to the protest to park in Gatlinburg and walk up.     

He has spoken to the park's chief ranger, and he has given him the green light to have the protest.

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