Mt. Pleasant area to be promoted as group tour destination
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
The Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau is set to begin promoting group tours featuring all things Mt. Pleasant.
The tours will center on three prominent local themes — honoring those who serve in the military, preserving the area's rich industrial history, and celebrating local life via a variety of recreational and retail attractions.
“We're looking at day trip options,” said Linda Mauzy, vice president of group travel with the Ligonier-based bureau. “My position at the borough deals with organizing any form of group travel, whether it be a dozen ladies taking a trip to the local winery or a larger, chartered bus church tour. I also work with motorcycle clubs and car clubs.”
Starting next week, the public will have access to a wealth of visitor-friendly information, appearing by Sept. 20 online at the bureau's group tour web page, grouptours.laurelhighlands.org.
It will also be printed in materials to be mailed out by the bureau, Mauzy said. “We're developing these tours to get them out to tour planners for consideration. We're creating the opportunity for them to consider what Mt. Pleasant has to offer as a tourist destination,” Mauzy said.
Sites to be featured include:
• West Overton Museums
• The Old General Store at Countryside Plaza
• The Sand Hill Berry Farm and Greendance Winery
• Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum at the Mt. Pleasant Glass Center
• Veteran's Wall in the borough's Veteran's Park
• Leo and Sons' Grille 31.
Depending on the interests of each visiting group, the tours will include “Pleasant Mount Pleasant,” “Day in the History of Glass,” or “Day of Special Tributes — Honoring Our Men and Women of Our Armed Services,” Mauzy said.
“When this opportunity is created, we simply make it fit the interests of the groups,” she said.
To gather data for the itinerary, Mauzy and Mt. Pleasant resident Stacey Magda, who serves as the bureau's group tour coordinator, met during the summer with Jeff Landy, the borough's manager, and Leo Wisniewski, proprietor of Leo and Sons' Grille 31, to discuss development of a tour designed to thank veterans by introducing them to borough's time-tested heritage of honoring service men and women, she said.
“We talked about a Veterans' Tour,” Landy said. “I think the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau recognizes that Mt. Pleasant has a lot to offer. From many years ago, erecting the Doughboy statue in middle of town, to new digital veterans' memorial wall, we have always honored our veterans here.”
Mauzy said they also discussed the possibility of incorporating the James E. Zundell American Legion Post 446 in the tour.
“We talked about bringing in somebody from the American Legion Honor Guard to conduct a presentation, then have lunch or dinner at Leo's,” she said.
Mauzy and Magda also met recently with Cassandra Vivian, president of the Mt. Pleasant Glass Museum, which recently became a bureau member.
“The final outcome might, in fact, incorporate the glass museum and the area's glass history for those who take us up on this tour suggestion,” Mauzy said.
Vivian said she was excited at the idea of a tour featuring the museum, particularly since the facility recently relocated to the Mt. Pleasant Township center at 402 E. Main St., Suite 600.
“I think we have an opportunity here to make a difference. We hope that we're going to be successful. We think what we have to offer to the tourist who comes is the history of the three area glass factories, the fact that the docents who work here worked in the factories, (master glass cutter) Peter O'Rourke, and the inaugural bowls he makes for U.S. presidents,” Vivian said. “We think these things should draw bus loads of people.”
Greendance Winery tasting rooms/store manager Diane Dilworth said the group tour initiative is just the latest in the bureau's efforts to attract visitors from across the country.
“Linda is unbelievable. She's always been very organized and professional, and it's great to work with her,” Dilworth said. “Any time we can get people to come in here, we're always open to exposure, of course.”
Jeff Gales, proprietor of Old Country Store, hopes the initiative benefits all area businesses, not just his, he said.
“It's great for the area, anything we can do to bring in different people, it's a good thing,” Gales said.
And one which Mauzy said she hopes brings the tourist masses to Mt. Pleasant.
“We can only offer all that is special about Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands and hope for the best,” she said.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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