Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Glade Sun

December 20, 2012

One of a kind treasure hidden in the hills

CROSSVILLE — Nestled in an out of the way corner, on the outskirts of Cookeville, sits a wondrous playground that has become a staple for Christmas fun in Middle Tennessee. Arda Lee's Hidden Hollow offers a unique experience for visitors looking for family oriented entertainment. The main attraction is a drive-thru light show, which operates nightly from Thanksgiving to New Years. LED displays illuminate the park with more than a million individual lights.

Hidden Hollow was built back in the 1970's by retired tool design engineer Arda Lee. Originally, the 82-acre playground was a tobacco, corn and cattle farm owned by Lee's father and uncle. Lee's inspiration for the park was divine revelation – he's said to have had a vision from God telling him to build it. A 52-foot illuminated cross sits atop a chapel overlooking the park and serves as a testimony of Lee's faith. The cross is clearly visible from Interstate 40, providing a landmark for truckers and travelers passing through the night. The chapel also hosts an Easter sunrise service each year.

Lee's favorite time of year was Christmas. He loved the pomp and circumstance associated with the holiday – the lights and music, Santa Claus and nativity scenes – symbolism for all that is good and right in the world. Stepping into his quirky creation is like stepping back into childhood. Classic holiday hits fill the air while flashy scenery delights the eyes. Brightly colored lights sparkle across the surface of the lake as fountain spray shimmers in the foreground of a luminous waterfall. Beside the lake is a swing set that allows you to glide out over the water. There's also mini-golf, a petting zoo and a wishing well that grants magic to the imagination.

The petting zoo actually landed Lee in hot water several years ago. He was arrested by agents of the Tennessee Wildlife Resource Agency. It seems you're not allowed to keep wild animals as pets. The case, however, never came to trial. You can still feed the animals in the petting zoo, though now it's filled with only domesticated animals like chickens, ducks, goats and rabbits. 

Arda Lee died in 2004 at the age of 88. His death left the park's fate in question when the property went to the auction block a couple of years later. Vince and Amanda Taylor just happened at the auction, though they had no intention of buying anything. As fate would have it, when the bidding started, the couple felt moved to raise their paddle and the property that they had no intention of buying became theirs.

"It's been an adventure ever since," said Amanda.

The couple, along with their two young sons, Skylar and Dalton, have maintained the tradition and the vision established by Arda Lee. Beginning in October, Vince begins the long and arduous task of stringing lights. It's a job that, as he put it, "is never really done." The Taylors are at the park virtually every night from Thanksgiving through New Years. There are always bulbs that need replacing or things that need tweaking. Vince is currently in the process of changing out the bulbs from the old incandescent style to LED bulbs, which saves 98 percent on electricity as well as being much brighter.

Each year the park has a theme for the central display. This year it's a salute to the troops, with a 25 x 18 foot American flag consisting of 1,500 LED lights. The flag is prominently poised over the waterfall and can be seen from virtually everywhere in the park. They also had a display specially made that celebrates Tennessee Tech with flashing purple and gold lights. 

The park receives special guests over the holidays. Every Saturday night throughout the season, Santa Claus makes a cameo appearance and is available for pictures from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. In addition, "Mr. Snowman," the park mascot, wanders through to greet children. Bonfires are lit to stave off any chills, though this year the weather has been quite mild and pleasant. There's also a short order grill in case you get hungry.

After Christmas, the park switches gears to celebrate Easter with the largest egg hunt in the Upper Cumberland. They also hold the annual sunrise service in the chapel during this time. Over the summer, the park adds swimming, fishing, paddle boats, barbecues, picnics and camping to the list of available activities. In the fall they have hayrides and haunted houses.

Hidden Hollow offers a festive atmosphere and an opportunity to hang out as a family any time of year. The natural beauty of the park is remarkable and plays host to many weddings, reunions, birthday parties, graduations, cookouts and corporate events. As the sign says: "There never was and probably never will be another Hidden Hollow."

Text Only
Glade Sun
  • Pats big day - Jensen photo.jpg FFG Resident Services presents painting to the Pat Summitt Foundation

    A dramatic portrait of Pat Summitt, painted by Chuck Jensen, was presented to the Pat Summitt Foundation by Fairfield Glade Resident Services at its Community Information Event on memory care.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFG Rotary district gov1.jpg Rotary District Governor visits Glade Rotary Club

    The Fairfield Glade Rotary Club welcomed Rotary District Governor Jerry Wear from Pigeon Forge.

    July 23, 2014 2 Photos

  • 'Anything Goes' to benefit Resident Services

    In olden days, a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking, but now heaven knows, Anything Goes.

    July 23, 2014

  • Simms work on display beginning Aug. 3

    From Aug. 3 to Aug. 29, the Cumberland Art Society (CAS) will exhibit original creations by award-winning artist John Simms, who is internationally recognized as a Master Portrait Painter. The Creating Tomorrow’s Heirlooms exhibit will feature fine art in oil, acrylics, watercolors and charcoal. Please plan to meet Simms from 1 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 3, at the CAS Backdoor Gallery, 186 S. Walnut St. in Cookeville.

    July 23, 2014

  • Read the latest edition of "The Bulletin"

    The Crossville Chronicle-Glade Sun also publishes a newsletter called "The Bulletin" in which you'll find a schedule of Glade activities and events, a restaurant and dining guide, golf information, and even tour schedules. Click here for the latest PDF edition of "The Bulletin."

    April 21, 2010 1 Link

  • Rafael 4.jpeg.jpg 'Wild Man' debuts at Palace Aug. 23

    "He's cool!" "He's famous!" "He's awesome!" "He's an icon!" "Ladies love him!" And, "He's Wild!"
    Crossville's own Wild Man Billy Ralph, Rafael R. Soriano, known for his signature song "The Dark Stranger," is making his debut appearance at the Palace Theatre Aug. 23.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • FFG Garden scholarships1.jpg FFG Garden Club presents five students with scholarships

    The Fairfield Glade Garden Club, in conjunction with members of the 1st National Bank of Tennessee, honored three returning students and two new students with scholarships as they continue their agricultural and horticultural education in their selected fields.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Normandie 2010 014.jpg Faith Bible Fellowship welcomes missionary musicians July 27

    Longtime French radio program producers and musicians, Daniel and Francoise Dossmann have lived through many transitions throughout their lives. Thirty years ago, they traveled from France to Ecuador to serve as missionaries with HCJB Global, (now Reach Beyond). After 17 years in Quito, Ecuador, they began a new phase of ministry in the West African country of Cote d’Ivoire. At the end of 2004, a civil war erupted and a mandatory evacuation ensued.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Abacus Column: Fairfield Glade golf courses — a product of talent, desire and commitment

    On a recent Friday morning, a friend and I were playing the back nine of Dorchester Golf course. At the tee box on the unique par three 13th Hole, we met a young gentleman named Rob Krumple. Rob is a course maintenance employee reporting to Dorchester Superintendent Mike Wilson. My friend and I often comment about the excellent condition of our courses and since we had opportunity to pass a compliment on to Rob, we did.

    July 23, 2014

  • rotary0039.jpg Rotary Club presents scholarships


    July 23, 2014 4 Photos

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow Raw: Deadly Tornado Hits Virginia Campground Ohio State Marching Band Chief Fired After Probe
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice
Graduation 2014