By DON GLYNN don.glynn@niagara-gazette
Niagara Gazette — The federal government shutdown, as you might expect, has raised countless questions including what parks, attractions and vacation spots are affected. After all, that could have a major impact on travelers’ itineraries as well as the tourist industry in general.
To address that concern, the Niagara Tourism & Convention Corp. provides a recorded telephone message for visitors inquiring about the natural wonder here. Basically, callers are reminded that the Niagara Falls State Park — the oldest such park in the U.S. — is still open seven days a week. It is not any part of the National Park Service, the sites owned and operated by the federal government.
It’s incredible the number of people who simply don’t realize the difference, according to NTCC President John Percy. Such confusion could severely impact the traditional influx of off-season tourists, he noted. The Niagara area has always been high on the list of favorite stopovers for the thousands of fall visitors to the Finger Lakes, Corning Glass Center and Letchworth State Park, among other destinations.
Actually there are few tourist attractions or related facilities the federal government operates in Western New York. One is the Theodore Roosevelt Site on Delaware Avenue, Buffalo, where TR was inaugurated after President McKinley was assassinated in September 1901 while visiting the Pan-American Exposition. in the Queen City.
“We were swamped with calls from people who were concerned whether this site (Niagara Falls State Park) was still open,” Percy said. He noted that October is an ideal time for many travelers (e.g leaf peepers) and motorcoach tours. Losing any part of that business as the result of misinformation could deal a severe blow to the tourist trade here. Angela Berti, public relations and marketing director for the regional state parks agency, also has been assisting the NTCC to get the word out to hoteliers and others in the hospitality industry that the Cataract City remains open and ready to welcome visitors.
Ironically, years ago there was a move to at least explore the possibility of putting the Niagara Falls State Park under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service. The matter was never seriously discussed, however, probably because the governor then and the Albany-based Parks Department simply didn’t think it was a good idea. In retrospect, they were right.
It does raise speculation though over what would happen if the natural wonder here was put under the National Park Service. Would we see visitors climbing over barricades at the foot of Old Falls Street so they could make their way to Prospect Point or to Goat Island?
SPECIAL SALUTE: To Merrell Lane, who has chaired the Niagara Military Affairs Council for nearly two decades. John A. Cooper Sr., who succeeds Lane, cited his predecessor for his “utmost integrity and professionalism.” Lane has been a staunch supporter of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and a spirited leader in the relentless drive to keep the base open. Cooper is deeply committed to assuring the facility, the largest employer in Niagara County, will continue its mission. Lane is featured in the quarterly newsletter of NIMAC.
HEALTH HINT: The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reminds us that keeing hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to fight the flu. The center’s advice: wash hands with soap and clean running water for 20 seconds.
TRIVIA: (Answer to Sunday quiz): Abner Doubleday, the legendary founder of baseball, was born in Auburn, N.Y.Contact Reporter Don Glynn at 282-2311, ext. 2246.