April 3, 2010 9:55:00 PM
Blue skies and warm temperatures are on tap to greet opening events of Columbus'' 70th annual Spring Pilgrimage Monday. In addition to the first home tours and Tales from the Crypt, a community-wide block party will help launch the 13-day showcase of historical architecture, living history and unique activities.
"We think this will be a wonderful way to help kick off Pilgrimage," said Nancy Carpenter, director of the Columbus Cultural Heritage Foundation. "The block party will be from 5-8 p.m. outside the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center at 300 Main St. We''re going to have a delicious crawfish boil, with trimmings, and great live music by Flashpoint."
Plates will be $8.50 each, all ages. To-go orders can be placed by contacting the Convention and Visitors Bureau and Heritage Foundation office at 662-329-1191.
Carpenter urges residents and Pilgrimage visitors alike to join in the festivities, which follow home tours from 2-5 p.m. and precede the opening night of Tales from the Crypt at Friendship Cemetery, from 7-10 p.m.
She credits Columbians'' hospitality in making "pilgrims" want to return to the city National Geographic Traveler''s August 2009 issue identified as a must-see stop for any long weekend in the Southeast.
"We have some who have been coming to Pilgrimage for at least 15 years," Carpenter noted, citing the come-back effect of positive encounters with businesses and residents. "They''ve had good experiences at our hotels and motels, our bed and breakfasts, restaurants and unique shops."
The Pilgrimage April 5-17 is expected to once again generate economic impact in excess of $650,000, Carpenter said. "Any time you bring that many people in for extended stays, it makes a difference. This is the gift to our community of Pilgrimage."
Wave, don''t honk
In keeping with a Friendly City welcome, Carpenter reminds residents that Columbus'' new double decker bus will be transporting visitors along tour routes through April 17.
"The bus goes about 40 miles per hour, so we ask for patience and courtesy from everyone as it makes its way along city streets," she said, thanking the community in advance for cooperation.
Weather permitting, leisurely carriage rides also will depart from the Welcome Center and travel Southside streets April 9-10, beginning at 9 a.m.; April 11, starting at noon; and April 16-17, beginning at 9 a.m. Cost is $5 per person.
More to do
Organizers urge the community to take advantage of other events during Pilgrimage, including Noon Tunes April 8 and 15 at the Welcome Center; Grilling on the River at the Riverwalk April 9-10; and on April 10, a 10K race and Artisans Alley at the Welcome Center, plus the Giant Possum Town Yard Sale at the Hitching Lot Farmers'' Market.
Highlights April 17 include the second annual Tour of Kitchens from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. and the Mayor''s Unity Picnic at the Riverwalk from 5-8 p.m.
For details on Pilgrimage and related events, go to www.columbus-ms.org, or contact the Heritage Foundation at 662-329-1191 or 800-920-3533. The Welcome Center will serve as ticket headquarters for Pilgrimage tours, as well as the Tour of Kitchens.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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