Niagara Gazette


October 18, 2013

HAMILTON: Rethinking tourism strategies in the Falls


Niagara Gazette — What made this couple special to me?

Barty Jean was a spry 86-year-old retired interior decorator; and Herbert was eight-years her senior at 96 — and they were just as happy and excited as any engaged 20-something couple that I had ever encountered as they were entering into this life-changing experience with each other.

Virgin Active, a health club conglomerate with 1.2 million members across 266 clubs globally, released an advertisement whereas the granddaughter of a very elderly man who silently sat and gazed at the nothingness that remained of his life. She happened to notice a photograph on his dresser of his friends and him mounted upon bicycles with huge smiles on their faces.

The young lady returned with a bicycle helmet and dropped it on the old man’s lap and then led him out to the yard where she had a new bicycle waiting for him. You could feel the joy in both of them as they rode together in bliss along with a group of other cyclist. The joy of his life returned. The advertisement ended with the words, “Live happily ever active.”

Barty Jean and Herbert fully well expect to do just that, but not by cycling the 2,800 miles between our hometown and theirs in Snohomish Washington. Instead, Barty Jean said that while they always wanted to come to Niagara Falls, and that it was Herbert’s first time, they intend to tour the entire northeastern United States and — get this — “... that will complete our bucket list.”

Barty Jean and Herbert were indeed married in Niagara Falls; and they joined the legacy of perhaps millions of others who had already done likewise.

In our attempts to open new markets for tourism, let us not overlook that beautiful and dedicated stalwart group of aged tourist that got us here in the first place — regardless of how slowly they now turn, they are still alive and active.

Contact Ken Hamilton at

Contact Ken Hamilton at

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