Category Archives: Branson Events

Yahoo lists Branson Christmas lighting displays among America’s best

Silver Dollar City lights up for its "An Old Time Christmas" celebration.

BRANSON, Mo., December 4, 2012 —  “Wow, Branson listed along with destinations like New York City’s Rockefeller Center; Orlando’s Disney World, and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival as one of America’s best places for Christmas lights,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “What a testimony as to the quality of the Christmas lighting displays people will experience in Branson as part of Ozark Mountain Christmas,” she continued.

Johnson was referring to a recent on line article appearing on Yahoo Travel entitled America’s best places for holiday lights published on Nov. 30. The article listed Branson along with nine other places as “the best places to see holiday lights this year” and specifically referred to its three major Christmas lighting displays, Silver Dollar City’s “Old Time Christmas,” Shepherd of the Hills “Trail of Lights” and the “Branson Area Festival of Lights.”

Silver Dollar City, Branson’s oldest and most popular paid attraction, is an 1880s-styled theme park that is transformed into a glowing Christmas spectacular with over four million sparkling lights throughout the park for its Old Time Christmas Festival. Its twice nightly 100,000 light Holiday Light Parade winds through a town square and by a five-story musical Special Effects Christmas Tree adorned with over one million sparkling lights.

The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights is a drive through light display located on the 160 acre Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. The unique two and a half miles has been integrated into the natural terrain of the “Trail that Nobody Knows How Old” made famous by Harold Bell Wright in his novel, “The Shepherd of the Hills,” and offers a Christmas wonderland unlike anything else anywhere in the world.

The “Branson Area Festival of Lights,” is a one-mile drive display “illuminated with more than 175 displays” that “will delight children of all ages.” It is produced by North Pole Productions and is conveniently located just a few blocks from the heart of the Branson Strip.

“And that’s just the major outdoor lighting displays and doesn’t consider the elaborate Christmas decorations at places such as ‘Branson Landing,’ ‘Big Cedar,’ ‘Chateau on the Lake’ and others as well as in theatres such as the ‘Andy Williams Moon River Theatre’ or the ‘Shoji Tabuchi Theatre,'” Johnson said. She also points out that that Christmas lights are not the only thing sparkling in Branson and that its live shows, attractions and shopping “sparkle,” day in and day out, with entertainment and excitement. For information on Branson’s lighting displays, shows, attractions, shopping or lodging call the Branson Tourism Center through their toll free number 1-800-785-1550.

Mrs. Claus hosts first Branson Candy Cane Cruise

Mrs. Claus ready to welcome children and their adult guests on board for the "Candy Cane Cruise."

BRANSON, Mo., December 4, 2012 — When Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess left her moorings at Noon on Dec. 1st she had some very special passengers on board. About 100 children, parents, grandparents and escorts joined two of Santa’s Elves and Mrs. Claus for a special Christmas experience on Branson’s very first “Candy Cane Cruise.”

Mrs. Claus personally greeted each family as they boarded the Princess and went into the main cabin of the 100 foot luxury yacht. As the Princess pulled away from the dock, Mrs. Claus came in and explained that although Santa was unable to be there for the cruise he had said that he would do all that he could to be at the Branson Landing Fountain when the boat passed by and wave. As the boat started its less than ten minute trip to the Fountain, she answered questions about the North Pole, Santa, the reindeer and other questions that the excited children asked.

Less than ten minutes after leaving the dock, as the Princess approached the Fountain, amid the excitement and hope that Santa would be there, every eye was looking for him to appear. And, sure enough, to everyone’s delight, just a few seconds after arriving at the Fountain, Santa did appear at the top of the stairway to the Fountain and waved.

Santa himself took time from his work to come and greet as the Candy Cane Cruise as it passed.

As the Princess turned to start her downstream leg of the cruise, Mrs. Claus continued answering questions and sharing her personal stories about how Santa does what he does and what goes on at the North Pole. Then everyone joined in with Mrs. Claus and the Elves in singing Christmas songs before she quieted everyone down and read them the story “The Night Before Christmas.” The rapt attention of her young audience as she read was a joy to behold.

After the story, she asked the children to write Santa Claus a letter telling him what they wanted for Christmas and told them that she would see that Santa Claus got them. As the children concentrated on writing their letters, one could almost feel the excitement in the air. It was a very special time, perhaps best summed up by Larry Milton, one of the principle owners of Main Street Lake Cruises as he said, with a big grin on his face, “This is so cool.”

As the children finished their letters they were picked up and put in a basket by one of the Elves and everyone enjoyed milk and cookies. While they were writing the letters and having the cookies and milk the children were given the opportunity to go into the bridge and steer the boat under the watchful eye of Captain Ayers.

As the Princess docked and the children left the boat, the last thing they saw leaving the cabin was the basket filled with their letter to Santa Claus that Mrs. Claus was going to deliver. Unknown to the children, Santa Claus had already “answered” their letters with a response that each of the adult guests received as they left the boat and could deliver to the children at the appropriate time. Mrs. Claus wished everyone a “Merry Christmas” and each was given a Candy Cane by one of the Elves.

Although the inaugural and remaining 2012 “Candy Cane Cruises were fully booked, they were free and offered by Main Street Lake Cruises and the Branson Tourism Center as a way of wishing the families in the Branson area a “Merry Christmas.” If the excited looks of happiness on the faces of the children and their adult guests as they left the boat were any indication they not only enjoyed their cruise and time with Mrs. Claus, but are ready to continue having a “Merry Christmas.”

“White Flight” ensures Branson “White Christmas”

Live "angel" sharing butterfly with family during "White Flight."*

BRANSON, Mo., November 25, 2012 — “It may not be the ‘White Christmas’ dreamed about in the popular song, but ‘White Flight,’ brings its own unique beautiful ‘White Christmas’ to Branson,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. Currently appearing for its sixth Christmas in Branson, “White Flight” is a unique limited engagement Christmas exhibit made up of thousands of white butterflies flying in a rain forest sparkling with thousands of lights, living angel statutes, colorful white and red poinsettias and filled with the beautiful sounds of Christmas music. It is being shown at Branson’s Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure (Butterfly Palace) through January 15, 2013.

Sarah Bolend, General Manager of the Butterfly Palace, said that the thousands of white butterflies used in “White Flight” are comprised of about 20 different species of tropical white butterflies with the most common being the “Paper Kite Butterfly,” also referred to as the “Rice Paper Butterfly.” Bolend indicated that the majority of the butterflies used in White Flight, as is the case with all the exhibits at the Butterfly Palace, are shipped to them by air express in their chrysalis (cocoon) stage from tropical rain forests. After the butterfly emerges from the cocoon and its wings dry, it is released into the exhibit, aviary, where it lives out its average three week life span in a predator free environment.

“White Flight” starts in the Butterfly Palace’s theatre with the viewing of a very well filmed, interesting and exciting 15 minute movie on the life of a rain forest butterfly. After the movie the guests step from the theatre into the aviary where there is a unique opportunity to interact, “up close and personal,” with thousands of tropical rain forest butterflies. During “White Flight” the butterflies are all colored white and provide a spectacular and unique display. Bolend said that from January 16 through the start of White Flight on November 1, the display is just as spectacular, but is composed of 50-60 species of different brightly colored butterflies.

She points out that in addition to the butterflies in the aviary “White Flight” also includes the presentation of the centuries old art form of “living statutes” in the form of White Angels. As people walk through the exhibit and butterflies alight on and flutter around the angels they present a picture of angelic beauty and tranquility.

Almost imperceptibly, the statutes slowly and subtly come to life. It might be just a change in the position of a head or the extension of a hand, but it’s fascinating to watch the ability of the artist playing the angels to interact with the guests.

The aviary is decorated with a number of poinsettias and other flowers and highlighted by a large poinsettia Christmas tree that provides an excellent place to take a picture. The whole “White Flight” experience, from the thousands of White Butterflies to the living angel statutes and beautiful music, is a unique experience that the whole family will enjoy.

Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson reminds Branson visitors that “White Flight” is just one of the many special events that are part of Ozark Mountain Christmas. For additional information or tickets for “White Flight” and the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure, Ozark Mountain Christmas or any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by calling 800-785-1550.

*Courtesy  Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure

Ozark Mountain Christmas spirit grows post Thanksgiving

Santa poised to surprise needy eating free Thanksgiving Breakfast in Clockers Cafe.

BRANSON, Mo., November 22, 2012 — The celebration of Ozark Mountain Christmas in Branson runs from November 1 to December 31, but to many, the millions of sparkling Christmas lights just seem to glow a little brighter and the spirit of Christmas seems to grow almost exponentially each day between Thanksgiving and Christmas. The result, although not definable in pure objective terms, is that America’s largest celebration of the traditional Christmas, Ozark Mountain Christmas, with its shows, drive through lighting displays, Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas and all the special activities associated with it becomes even more unique and special.

From a child’s perspective, it could be because the chances to see Santa Claus increase drastically. Why just this morning as this writer was walking through Historic Downtown Branson he talked with Santa in front of Clockers Café as he was poised to surprise some of the anticipated 600 people receiving a free Thanksgiving breakfast courtesy of Clockers owners Allen and Karen Theane and the many volunteers who served it. Santa pointed out that he is going to be pretty busy between now and Christmas and looks forward to greeting Branson’s boys and girls at area stores, Branson Landing by the big Christmas Tree, Bass Pro-Shops Winter Wonderland and other special events.

Starting this weekend, Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction will be sharing the magic and beauty of its “Fantasy Princess” as she brings “new Holiday Magic to Branson” every Wednesday through Sunday until December 30. Her appearance is part of the annual ‘Titanic Christmas Winter Wonderland” featuring Edwardian-style decorations, thousands of holiday lights, one of the most unique gift shops in Branson with many one-of-a-kind items and “costumed merry-makers” that passengers on the ship will meet and interact with while on their “voyage.”

Every year, one can feel the Christmas spirit fill the air as the first Sunday in December approaches, December 2 this year, and an event that has been part of Branson’s heritage for 64 years, The Adoration Parade and Nativity scene lighting takes place in Historic downtown Branson. The parade has dozens of bands, floats and walking units participating in the parade, which is one of the few nighttime Christmas parades in the country and is unique because its sole purpose is to celebrate the very reason there is a Christmas by “Keeping Christ in Christmas.” This year the Adoration Parade will be preceded by a “Centennial Adoration Service” at 10:00 AM in the Branson Convention Center as the last event in Branson’s celebration of its Centennial.

Whatever the reason, the spirit of the traditional American Christmas that is an inherent part of Ozark Mountain Christmas just seems to grow and become more prevalent with each passing day. Perhaps, in the final analysis that’s the answer, as each day brings us closer to the real reason for the season and the spirit involved with the wonderful gift celebrated on Christmas Day; it’s only normal that the true spirit of Christmas would fill our hearts.

Branson’s three major Christmas Lighting Displays

One of many Christmas lighting displays in the Branson Area Festival of Lights drive through display.

BRANSON, Mo., October 31, 2012 — In Branson, Missouri, last glimmer of Halloween and the Jack O Lantern is quickly replaced by the glow of millions of sparkling Christmas lights as it begins its celebration of Ozark Mountain Christmas. Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center said, “At this time of the year, one of the questions we are asked the most is, ‘Where are the best places to see Christmas lights?'”

Johnson points out that the entire Branson area is decorated for Christmas. However, in terms of Christmas lighting displays, by far the three areas that are the most extensively decorated and attract the most visitors to see their lights are Silver Dollar City with its Old Time Christmas, Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights and the Branson Area Festival of Lights.

Silver Dollar City, Branson’s oldest and most popular paid attraction is an 1880s-styled theme park that hosts a number of world class festivals each year. Its last festival each year is An Old Time Christmas, running from November 3 through December 30 this year. It has been recognized as one of the nation’s top theme park Christmas celebrations as it is transformed into a glowing Christmas spectacular with over four million sparkling lights throughout the park and a twice nightly 100,000 light Holiday Light Parade that winds through Silver Dollar City’s town square and by its five-story musical Special Effects Christmas Tree adorned with over one million colorful, sparkling and twinkling lights.

"Trail of Lights" display in shadow of Inspiration Tower.

The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights is a drive through light display located east of Silver Dollar City on Highway 76 between it and the famed “Branson Strip” on the 160 acre Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. The Trail of Lights is unlike any Christmas lighting display anywhere. Its two and a half miles has been integrated into the natural terrain of the “Trail that Nobody Knows How Old” made famous by Harold Bell Wright in his novel, “The Shepherd of the Hills,” offering a Christmas wonderland unlike anything else anywhere.

As would be expected, the drive through includes millions of colored Christmas lights. It also includes hundreds of beautiful displays, most in their own themed area including music; many animated scenes beautiful lighted displays and a trip to Inspiration Tower where you can ride glass elevators up 230′ for a unique view of the lights.

The “Branson Area Festival of Lights,” produced by North Pole Productions, is located a few blocks north of the Branson Strip on Expressway Lane with its entrance located at the northern intersection of the Shepherd of the Hills Expressway and Expressway Lane. The drive through display is “a one-mile drive along a path illuminated with more than 175 displays” that “will delight children of all ages.”

Pierce Arrow cruises into Preferred Event aboard Landing Princess

Cast of Pierce Arrow introducing themselves during cruise, Scott, left, Gary, Luke and Tim

BRANSON, Mo., October 12, 2012 — Branson is noted for the way most of its entertainers and stars like to “meet and greet” and interact with their fans. However, for the 100 passengers aboard Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess, on October 9, as part of the “Pierce Arrow Preferred Event” the term was taken to a new level. The Pierce Arrow cast met and posed for pictures with them as they boarded the boat and then went with them for a special exclusive chartered luncheon cruise on beautiful Lake Taneycomo.

As the sleek 100 foot long luxury yacht glided down Lake Taneycomo passengers were treated to a one of a kind view of the natural beauty of the Ozarks, waterfowl, the first blush of Fall foliage color and a view of native Ozark bluffs only available from Lake Taneycomo while enjoying, a scrumptious lunch. As they were finishing their lunch, the members of the “Pierce Arrow Quartet,” Gary Koreiba, Tim Storms, Scott Fraker, and Luke Menard and, one of the funniest men in Branson, the shows comedian Jarrett Dougherty, went from table to table talking with the passengers, giving them autographed pictures of the cast as well as posing for pictures and giving autographs.

Pierce Arrows Scott Fraker, right corner of table, talking with guests.

“Because of our two a day show schedule, we are very selective about the outside events that we do, but when this opportunity from the Branson Tourism Center became available we thought what a great opportunity,” said Doug Kissinger, Pierce Arrow Theatre Box Office Manager, who accompanied the cast on the cruise. “It fit in with our show schedule, and gave us an opportunity to work with one of our primary marketing partners in a win-win situation where the cast will have fun and the people coming to Branson will have a great time with it.” As he looked around the boat observing the interaction between the Pierce Arrow cast members and the passengers Kissinger reflected, “What a fun event and special experience for everyone, cruising Lake Taneycomo, great food, fellowship and what a view!”

Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) said, “Our whole mission is to make sure that Branson visitors, from the beginning stages of planning a visit to Branson to the completion of their trip have a great experience.” She goes on to say, “Because of the wonderful relationship we have with Branson’s attractions, lodging operators and shows, customers of the Branson Tourism Center frequently receive value added benefits that you can’t get anywhere else in Branson, like our ‘Preferred Events.'”

Johnson points out that not only do BTC’s innovative and exclusive ‘Preferred Events’ provide a unique unparalleled opportunity to see a particular Branson star or stars perform in their show, but to meet and interact with them in an exclusive, personal and special way while saving money in the process. Currently, a different “Preferred Event Package” is offered every month including two adult tickets to the Main Street Lake Cruises Landing Princess lunch cruise and an exclusive Meet & Greet with the cast and stars of the show participating in the particular “Preferred Event.”

She adds, “We are thrilled about the success of the Pierce Arrow Preferred Event and are excited that our next “Preferred Event” is the Shoji Tabuchi Preferred Event which will be held on November 28. Due to the limited availability of the stars involved and the fact that there is only one cruise for each of these exclusive Preferred Events, availability is very limited. Reservations may be made by calling BTC at 1-800-926-5341.

What is Ozark Mountain Christmas?

The center of Silver Dollar City's "Old Time Christmas." It's town square and five story special effects Christmas Tree.

BRANSON, Mo., October 9, 2012 —  “A common question for us at this time of the year is, ‘What is Ozark Mountain Christmas?’” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. She answers, “It’s a combination of things adding up to a unique Branson area wide celebration of the true spirit of a traditional American Christmas that has been celebrated for over two decades.”

From Historic Downtown Branson and Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo on the east to Branson’s most popular paid attraction Silver Dollar City on the west, Ozark Mountain Christmas is a world class celebration of the Christmas Season. With millions upon millions of beautiful colored lights, drive through lighting displays and everything from a spectacular five story high special effects musical Christmas Tree; reindeer; Santa Claus and a “Fantasy Princess,” to Branson’s shows, attractions, shopping and other activities taking on the festive look and feel of the season, it is a unique holiday celebration unlike anything anywhere.

If that was all there was that would be plenty, but that’s not all there is. Ozark Mountain Christmas has its roots in a community that will be holding its “64th Annual Adoration Parade and Nativity Lighting Ceremony” in Historic Downtown Branson on December 2, as it gathers together to celebrate the reason for the season and honors the birth of the child for whom Christmas is named, Jesus Christ. While appreciating and respecting those who celebrate other holidays associated with that time of the year such as Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and others, Ozark Mountain Christmas is a special place for those who appreciate the traditional American Christmas and the real “reason for the season.”

A centerpiece of Ozark Mountain Christmas is Silver Dollar City’s world class festival, An Old Time Christmas, running from November 3 through December 30, and has been recognized as one of the nation’s top theme park Christmas celebrations. The 1880s-style theme park is transformed into a glowing Christmas spectacular with a twice nightly 100,000 light Holiday Light Parade; over four million sparkling lights throughout the park; one-of-a-kind handmade gifts made and showcased by Silver Dollar City’s demonstrating craftsmen; foods of the season and special shows including the Broadway style production of an original musical adaptation of “A Dickens’ Christmas Carol” and new this year, the debut of an adaptation of “It’s A Wonderful Life!” an original production with a cast of 14 strong which was produced exclusively for Silver Dollar City.

Ozark Mountain Christmas features two major drive through lighting displays, the Branson Area Festival of Lights and The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights. The “Branson Area Festival of Lights” is a one mile trip through more than 175 sparkling displays, many of which are animated. It is conveniently located a few blocks from the heart of the Branson Strip. The Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights is a two and a half mile journey through millions of Christmas lights, hundreds of gorgeous displays, holiday music, and animated scenes most of which have been integrated into the natural terrain of the Shepherd of the Hills Homestead. It is one of the most unique and memorable drive through lighting experiences most people will ever experience and also includes a “trip to Inspiration Tower where guests can ride glass elevators up 230 feet for a “Santa’s eye view” of the lights from above.”

One of the many spectacular numbers in the 2011 "Andy Williams Christmas Show."

And what would the place that many call the “Live music show capital of the world” be like at Christmas, or any other time of the year, without its live shows. There is a wide selection of Christmas Shows that are only available during Ozark Mountain Christmas such as the Andy Williams Christmas Show, which involved Mr. Williams “in all phases of the show including production, its music and the selection of the acts that [would] be in the show,” prior to his passing; Lennon Sisters Christmas Show Johnny Mathis Christmas Show, Tony Orlando Christmas, A Christmas Snow, Christmas in Hollywood, Christmas on the Trail, Mollie B Christmas Show, Sanders Family Christmas, The Bellamy Brothers Tropical Christmas, and others.

In addition most of Branson’s regular season shows also perform Christmas shows which are typically a combination of the best of their regular season show and Christmas and are as unique as the show themselves. This includes some of Branson’s most popular shows such as Shoji Tabuchi, SIX, Pierce Arrow, Haygoods, Clay Cooper’s Country Express, Dixie Stampede, Duttons, George Dyer, Hamner and Barber Variety Show, Presleys’ Country Jubilee, Yakov Smirnoff, Duttons, Hughes Brothers, Rankin Brothers, Baldknobbers, Haygoods, Doug Gabriel, Grand Jubilee and many others. Other shows such as Acrobats of China, Joseph and Legends of Kung Fu, although not having a specific Christmas segment, are spectacular and add to the fun and excitement that is a part of Ozark Mountain Christmas.

Click here for a complete list of Branson Shows including information, pictures, videos, schedules, pricing and ticketing or call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550.

Many of Branson’s attractions have special activities for Ozark Mountain Christmas. A partial list includes the Polar Express operated by Branson Scenic Railways from November 8 through December 22;” Titanic Christmas and Winter Celebration at the Titanic Museum Attraction from November 1 through December 31,including, new this year, “The Fantasy Princess,” from Thanksgiving Weekend to December 31st,Wednesday through Sunday and “White Flight” at the Butterfly Palace and Rainforest November 1 through January 15.

Branson is a virtual Christmas shoppers dream. “From the shops at Branson Landing on the shores of Lake Taneycomo to handcrafted items by the craftsmen and artists at Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas, two major outlet malls, the shops of Historic Downtown Branson and specialty shops galore throughout Branson, Branson Christmas shopping sparkles as brightly as its Christmas lights.

A highlight of Ozark Mountain Christmas will be the 64th Annual Adoration Parade and Nativity Lighting Ceremony on December 2. The lighting ceremony will be conducted near the intersection of Commercial and Main Streets in Historic Downtown Branson at 5:00 p.m. However, when the switch is flipped it will light the giant 30 foot tall figures of a Nativity Scene located on top of Mount Branson on the opposite side of Lake Taneycomo overlooking Branson Landing and Historic Downtown Branson. The lighting ceremony is followed by one of the few, if not the only, noncommercial, lighted nighttime parades in the United States devoted to the theme of “Keeping Christ In Christmas.”

Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson says, “If you’ve ever asked yourself, “What has happened to Christmas?’ a visit to Branson during Ozark Mountain Christmas just might answer that question. She also reminds everyone that it is one of the busiest times of the year in Branson and advises advance reservations for shows and lodging.

For additional information on Ozark Mountain Christmas or for tickets or information for any of Branson’s other shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center, one of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning services by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

http://www.bransontourismcenter.com/

Branson hosts America’s largest Veterans Day Celebration

Branson's Verteran's Memorial Garden, one of the many ways Branson honors America's Veterans. is just one of the man

BRANSON, Mo., October 7, 2012 — “Honoring America’s Veterans, active duty Armed Forces personnel and their families is an important part of Branson’s heritage and tradition,” said Tiffany Isnard, the Director of Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “It is something that is part of Branson’s heart and spirit and is done on a daily basis, but nowhere is it more evident than during Branson’s annual ‘Veterans Homecoming Week’ running from November 5 through November 11.”

The week long event is a special and exciting time, not only for those whom Branson honors, but for Branson itself. A schedule of events for “Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week” follows below and is sorted by date, single day events first followed by multiple day events, and is current as of October 7. Click here for access to more detailed information on most of these events.

Nov. 5 – Patriotic Welcome to Veterans Homecoming Week, Yakov Smirnoff Theater
Nov. 5 – “Special Salute to Veterans” dinner cruise & show on Showboat Branson Belle
Nov. 5 – Vets for Vets Welcome Show, The Starlite Theatre
Nov. 6 – POW/MIA Service, Vietnam Memorial Wall at the Welk Resort Branson
Nov. 6 – 237th Marine Corps Birthday Ball, Chateau on the Lake
Nov. 6 – Veterans Sporting Clays Shoot, Ozark Shooters Sports Complex, 759 US Hwy 65
Nov. 7 – A Salute to Veterans Spouses Reception at the Radisson Hotel
Nov. 7 – A Salute to Veteran’s Spouses Luncheon, Radisson Hotel
Nov. 7 – Vietnam Veterans Mini Reunion, Camden Hotel and Conference Center
Nov. 8 – Women Veterans Mini Reunion, Golden Corral Showroom
Nov. 8 – The First Annual Navy Ceremony “Lost at Sea,” Main Street Lake Cruises, Branson Landing
Nov. 9 – 16th Annual Military Gala & Banquet, Chateau on the Lake
Nov. 9 – Korean War Mini Reunion , Stone Castle Inn
Nov. 9 – 8th Annual Rose Petal Ceremony and Women Veterans Tribute Luncheon
Nov. 10 – 3rd Annual Branson West Flag Lighting Ceremony, Business 13/Hwy 12 intersection
Nov. 10 – Bretts For Vets Award Winner Presentation, Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theater
Nov. 10 – Wal-Mart Tribute to Veterans
Nov. 10 – Thanks4Giving Gala featuring Rudy Giuliani, Hilton Branson Convention Center
Nov. 11 – Military Wedding Ceremony at The Branson Landing Fountains
Nov. 11 – Tony Orlando’s Yellow Ribbon Salute to the Veterans, Welk Resort Theatre
Nov. 11 – 79th Veterans Day Parade and Ceremony, Downtown Branson
Nov. 11 – Veteran’s Day Flag Raising, Big Cedar Lodge
Nov. 11 – “Celebrate Veterans” Breakfast, First Baptist Church of BransonNov 4 – Nov 10 – Skaggs Veteran’s Wall
Nov 5 – Nov 10 – Veterans Village, Red Roof Mall*
Nov 5 – Nov 11 – Veterans Homecoming Week, Throughout Branson*
Nov 5 – Nov 12 – Vietnam Memorial Wall, Welk Resort Branson
Nov 5 – Nov 10 – Registration & Souvenir Commemorative Collectors Button Sales
Nov 5 – Nov 11 – Veterans’ Patch Wall, Main Lobby at Grand Country Music Hall
Nov 6 – Nov 10 – Day Room at the Red Roof Mall, Red Roof Mall
Nov 6 – Nov 10 – Free Lunches for Veterans, Red Roof Mall
Nov 6 – Nov 11 – Veterans Are Special, Hamner Barber Theater
Nov 6 – Nov  8 – WWII Big Band Dance, Our Lady of the Lake Parish Hall
Nov 7 – Nov 14 – Titanic Honors Veterans
*Although stores in mall are closed Veteran’s Week events are being held at the Mall.

Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week is celebrated during the first week of Ozark Mountain Christmas which runs from November 1 through December 31. With its Christmas shows, drive through lighting displays and Silver Dollar City’s Old Time Christmas it provides those attending Veterans Homecoming Week with a unique opportunity to experience not only the events connected with Veterans Homecoming Week, but to also experience Ozark Mountain Christmas.

Branson Tourism Center’s Isnard reminds those attending Veterans Homecoming Week that November through December is one of the busiest times of the years in Branson and suggests advance reservations for lodging and shows to ensure not only availability, but to obtain the best seats accommodations. For further information on Branson’s Veterans Homecoming Week, Ozark Mountain Christmas or additional information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements, please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 for free personal assistance or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

USS Point Cruz Reunion remembers “The Navy’s Baby”

Daniel Keenan, left, Clay Cooper, and Shirley Keenan.

BRANSON, Mo., September 17, 2012 — What does the reunion of the USS Point Cruz in Branson, September 10 – 14 of 2012 have to do the with an emaciated near death two month old Korean Caucasian baby in a Korean orphanage in 1953? Actually, quite a bit according to Daniel Edward Keenan, who was that dying baby. “If not for the intervention of the Point Cruz, I would not be here today. They literally saved my life,” he said.

Keenan and the Point Cruz first “met” in September of 1953 when the carrier escort docked at Inchon Harbor, in South Korean. Its Chaplain, LTJG Edward O. Riley, while responding to a request for assistance from Sister Philomena de la Croix, the head of the French Catholic Orphanage caring for 400 babies, discovered an emaciated, near death, blue eyed, fair skinned, baby with blond hair, called “George,”  amid all the Korean babies. Knowing that the chances of survival for a half blood Caucasian baby were slim Riley went back to the ship and explained the situation to its “Skipper,” Captain John T. Hayward, who instructed him to go back to the orphanage and to not return to the ship without the baby.

Although it was against all military regulations, not a “one trip” to the orphanage situation and took the intervention of visiting Vice President Richard Nixon, the “Baby George” not only came to the ship, but the necessary Korean Pass Port and U.S. Visa paper work was completed for him to come to the United States within mere weeks. As unlikely as this seems in this day and age Baby George went aboard a U.S. Naval vessel and into the welcoming arms of its 1,000 plus man crew, who treated him as a “member” of the families they were so far away from and to whom they longed to return.

Not only was George piped aboard the ship like a visiting dignitary, he went into a “nursery ” the crew had prepared with a crib and playpen, handmade toys and an environment under which “George,” or “Baby-san” as he was sometimes called, flourished. The stories tell how sheets were cutup into diapers, the crew took turns changing his diapers, anxiously awaited the daily reports on his improving condition and gathered to see him whenever the PA Announcement was made that the baby “would be on the hanger deck” or was wheeled around the ship in a modified “bomb carrier” baby carriage. Imagine, a U.S. Navy ship with diapers hanging from the “yard arm.” So unique and touching was the story that it was made into a TV movie entitled, “A Thousand Men and a Baby,” which aired on CBS in 1997.

During the process, a doctor from the hospital ship USS Consolation, Lt. Hugh C. Keenan, who had treated him and examined him for his Visa indicated a desire to adopt him and obtained the enthusiastic long distance sight unseen agreement of his wife to do so. When the USS Point Cruz arrived in Japan, “Baby George” was “piped” off the ship and, with Chaplain Riley, boarded the USNS General Hugh J. Gaffey, a transport ship for transportation to the United States. When “George” disembarked from the ship in Seattle, Washington, December 12, 1953 in the arms of a Navy Nurse he was transferred directly into the waiting arms of his “mother” Genevieve Keenan.

“George,” was renamed Daniel Edward Keenan, “Daniel” being his dad’s father’s name and “Edward” after Chaplain Riley. It was over 40 years before “The Baby” and crew of the Point Cruz” met again. That was in a tearful celebration at the ships second reunion in 1993. Keenan has attended the vast majority of them since, including the one just completed in Branson, Missouri.

Julie Peters, Group Sales Manager with Branson Tourism Center’s Group Sales, worked closely with the USS Point Cruz in planning and holding their reunion., She said that in addition to participating in the fellowship and camaraderie of a military reunion, they also went to see Clay Cooper’s Country Music Express, SIX and The Yakov Smirnoff Show. Peters points out that while the group was at Clay Cooper’s Show he recognized them and asked Keenan to share the story with the audience. Peters said that  it’s always a special pleasure to work on Military Reunions and getting to hear the story behind “A Thousand Men and a Baby” was a special personal highlight.

What are the odds on that, Keenan and his wife Shirley would, on their own, elect to go to see the Branson production of the Price Is Right, Live Show, be selected at random as one of the contestants and win $2,500? Insignificant as compared to the odds involved with what happened to a near death baby named “George” more than half a century ago, but wonderful nevertheless.

Nature’s panoramic colorful Fall show premiering soon in Branson

The first blush of 2011's Fall colors as viewed from Point Lookout at the College of the Ozarks.

BRANSON, Mo., September 15, 2012 –From the first tint of color to “leaf fall,” the foliage of the Ozark Mountains in Branson provides a beautiful canvass for the colorful show that takes place each Fall as it changes color. Greg Cassell, Resource Forester, for the Missouri Department of Conservation said that the foliage color typically comes with warm days and cool nights and, in the Branson area, peaks during the third week in October.

“Even during this hot dry summer, the Branson area was blessed with key rains, and although the Fall foliage will not be as spectacular as it has been during some years, it will still be a one of a kind sight to behold and a Branson show not to miss,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “One of our most asked questions is, ‘What’s the best way to see the foliage?'” Johnson responds that there really is not just one best way and points out that the neat thing about the Fall foliage in Branson is that it’s simply there at just about every turn.

That said however, Johnson suggests that the following should be near the top of anyone’s list in terms of a “unique panoramic” view of the Fall foliage. It would be hard to get a more unique, up close or better a panoramic view of the Ozark’s foliage than from the decks of Main Street Cruise Lines’ Lake Queen. At first blush it might seem inconsistent to use the terms “up close” and “panoramic” together, but in the case of the Lake Queen it is an accurate depiction.

As seen from the bow of the Lake Queen, one can only imagine what this scene will look like over the next month as the foliage changes color.

Lake Taneycomo, is a long narrow impoundment of the White River, with its shorelines being much closer together than Table Rock Lake. A typical sightseeing cruise on the Lake Queen provides an up close chance to view the Eagles, Great Blue Herons, other birds, deer and see panoramic vistas not available through any other means except water. As the foliage changes color, these panoramic vistas turn into a a magnificent “canvas” of natures painting that has to be seen to be believed.

Another unique view comes from the lofty heights of the 230 foot tall Inspiration Tower located on top of Inspiration Point, one of the highest points in southwest Missouri, at The Shepherd of the Hills Homestead provides an unparalleled panoramic view of the Ozark’s foliage from a different, but unique perspective. Glass elevators transport guests up to the enclosed Observation Deck from which, on a clear day, they can see over 90 miles and hundreds of square miles of foliage presenting a spectacular view of the Fall foliage that is not available anywhere else.

There are a number of “Scenic Lookouts” that provide a superb panoramic view of the Ozark’s Fall foliage. These include the Lookouts on State Route 165, about a mile south of its intersection with State Route 265; the Table Rock Dam Overlook, located on the south end of Table Rock Dam across the road from the Visitors Center and the Henning Conservation Area Lookout located about a mile west of the junction of State Route 76 and State Route 376 on the north side of the road.

Another excellent panoramic view is provided at “Point Lookout” on the campus of the College of the Ozarks. Located on top of a bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo it provides a unique view of Branson’s Fall foliage not available anywhere else with Lake Taneycomo winding through it. It is simply breath taking. While at the college you might want to plan to eat at the Keeter Center and visit the “Edwards Grist Mill” and the “Ralph Foster Museum,” called the “Smithsonian of the Ozarks.”

Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson also points out that a cruise on the Showboat Branson Belle, on Table Rock Lake, or ride on the Branson Scenic Railway also provide unique panoramic views of Branson’s Fall foliage.