Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, March 4, 2022

Rock City family legacy transitions to next generation

Doug Chapin and his father, Rock City co-owner Bill Chapin. - Photograph provided

The son of Rock City co-owner Bill Chapin is prepared to purchase the outstanding shares of the company and continue the family legacy of ownership of the outdoor attraction for a fifth generation.

“Dad has always loved what he does,” Doug Chapin says. “He wears his birdhouse hat to Rotary because he loves his work and he talks with guests at the ticket plaza to share his excitement. He’s always wanted my sisters and me to find a calling about which we felt passionate and never wanted us to feel pressured or obligated to become involved in the family business.

“My desire to love my work and the people with whom I do it has been the most important piece of my decision to take on ownership of See Rock City.”

This leadership transition takes place as Rock City prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary beginning May 21, known as Founder’s Day at the attraction.

Garnet Carter founded Rock City Gardens in 1932 with the financial backing of his father, James Inman Carter. Garnet’s nephew, E.Y. Chapin III (Bill’s father) led the business from the 1950s until 1985, when Bill purchased Rock City and became president.

SRC has seen increases in profitability and attendance under Bill’s leadership, according to a press release, along with the acquisition of the Battles for Chattanooga museum, Grandview, Starbucks, Clumpies Ice Cream, RiverView Inn and Good Dog.

Bill also oversaw multimillion-dollar renovations, the launch of several restaurants and shops inside Rock City Gardens and nine annual events, including the nationally recognized Enchanted Garden of Lights, which just celebrated its 27th season.

Bill has received two lifetime achievement awards for tourism, including one from Southeast Tourism Society in 2019 and another during the Georgia Governor’s Conference in 2017.

Doug took his first job at Rock City while he was in middle school, when he dressed as the attraction’s mascot, Rocky the Elf. He’s worked in many aspects of the business since then and led the efforts to purchase, manage and grow Clumpies.

Doug will also become president and CEO of SRC in March, a position held by Susan Harris for the last 14 years. Harris will serve as a consultant through 2022 while stepping into a leadership role with the Chattanooga Tourism Company in April.

Source: See Rock City