Category Archives: Events

Balloon Festival just one of Branson’s surprises

Three of about 20 balloons during their lift off from the Branson Balloon Festival.

Three of about 20 balloons during their lift off from the Branson Balloon Festival.

“Branson’s reputation as one of the premier vacation and entertainment destinations in America is well known and growing,” said Tammy Johnson, the General Manager for the Branson Tourism Center. “To the millions who have discovered Branson and all that it has to offer, it’s no surprise that it was listed in the top 25 List of U.S. Destinations in ‘TripAdvisors® 6th Annual Traveler’s Choice Destination Awards’ along with cities such as Orlando, New Orleans, San Diego and others.”

Although known primarily for its natural beauty, pristine lakes, live shows, attractions and shopping, which in themselves are remarkable, Branson has many special events throughout the year that give its visitors even more choices for fun and excitement. The Branson Balloon Festival, currently being held, is just one of these surprises.

The Festival is being held at the Branson RecPlex in Branson Hills and includes tethered rides, tandem skydiving, sky diving displays, helicopter rides, powered parachutes, food and vendors along with Hot Air Balloon Flights. Almost 20 of the giant Hot Air Balloons, with names such as, “Champagne Cowboy,” “Freedom,” “Odd Duck” and more, start the process of getting ready for the daily flights at about 6:30 a.m. as their crews, from as far away as Crestview, FL, spread the balloons out, attach their baskets and start to blow them up for flight.

Getting them ready to soar.

Getting them ready to soar.

As I watched with other Festival attendees, it was amazing to see the launching process unfold right before our eyes as the balloons took shape, displaying a dazzling display of design and color, filled up, rose gracefully into the air and gently floated away taking their passengers on an unforgettable experience. It’s truly a unique experience to see that many beautiful balloons going into the air in that short of a time.

Rodney Williams, a balloon pilot, operates “Branson Balloon” and, weather permitting, takes people on Hot Air Balloon flights over the Branson area on a daily basis. He explained that the reason for the early morning launch is because that is generally the time when there is the least chance of wind and the best flying conditions.

Some might ask, “Why even publish this piece because the event will be over Sunday?” The answer is simple, “The piece is about one of the many ‘surprises’ that Branson offers its visitors throughout the year, in addition to everything it offers on a daily basis.” Hopefully, it will encourage those coming to Branson to seek out and attend the events that might be of interest them and make their Branson visit more enjoyable.” One easy way to do that is by checking the Branson Tourism Center’s Upcoming Events Calendar which is sorted by month and day.

It only takes a few seconds and might prevent you from missing a golden opportunity to share a special moment with your family. I’d imagine that, like myself, the families watching those balloons take off this morning, or who will see them take off tomorrow morning, will have a special memory of Branson that will last for a long time.

6th Annual Branson Gospel Sing Off sparkles with talent

George Dyer and lead guitarist Bogie Bhoinc seen here performing a duet during the "George Dyer" show, are two the celebrity judges.

George Dyer and lead guitarist Bogie Bhoinc seen here performing a duet during the “George Dyer” show, are two the celebrity judges.

Branson’s Sight & Sound Theatre, the home of the spectacular biblical production, and one of Branson’s most popular new shows, Jonah, will host the 6th Annual Christian Action Ministries (CAM) Gospel Sing Off (Sing Off) at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday Aug. 31. Ten finalists, selected from over 80 entrants, will compete in the Sing Off for $3,000 in cash, trophies and the chance to sing at Silver Dollar City during the last day of its “Southern Gospel Music Picnic,” September 1.

The ten finalists will be judged by a panel of six Branson celebrity judges. The panel will include Benjamin Dutton, singer, dancer, and versatile musician with The Duttons; Bogie Bohinc, currently the guitarist in the George Dyer show who has been the lead guitarist for such other stars such as Andy Williams and Tony Orlando; George Dyer, Branson’s premier tenor from The George Dyer Show; Jak Knudsen of another of Branson’s most popular shows, SIX; Joshua Clark, the Entertainment Editor for the Branson Tri-Lakes News and Sarah Fair, who, along with her brothers, won the 2012 Gospel Sing Off and have since opened The Fair Family Show at the Hamner Theater in Branson

AM Board Chairman Jack Burke said, “Over 80 very talented entrants vied to get in the finals and we are very excited about the ten finalists in the Sing Off. It will be a wonderful afternoon of amazing gospel music with all the proceeds going to benefit Christian Action Ministries, whose food pantry distributes hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and grocery products to hungry aCnd needy people in our community.” The Gospel Sing Off finalists, in alphabetical order are:

4 Christ:  A male gospel quartet from Galena, Missouri that loves to carry the gospel message and spread the Good Word with their unique vocal harmonizing.

DC-3 Trio (Daughters of Christ): The DC-3 Trio, based in the greater Chicago area, has been singing together for 18 years at various church and community events.  Mary Kirby, Lorraine Malone, and Dani Martinez make up this talented trio.

Faith’s Journey: Faith’s Journey is a Branson-based trio with a passionate commitment to spreading the Word of the Lord through their skillful vocal harmonies.

Margo Rodewald: Margo is a solo singer who moved to Branson from Paola, Kansas after graduating from Baker University with a degree in music.  Hoping to turn her musical passion into a career, Margo has an affinity for gospel music.

My Brother’s Sister: This brother/sister duet from Coldwater, Mississippi, Taylor and Bethany Pope, have already developed a large fan base over the past two years with their strong vocals and mastery of string instruments.

Peggy Neely Harris: Peggy is a Lincoln Center Institute/Juilliard School trained soloist from St. Louis, who loves to share her passion for Christ with others through her music.

Peter Mauriello: Peter is a worship leader from the greater Chicago area.  With his 4 member Christian rock band, Peter loves to use music to facilitate meaningful experiences for people of all ages.

Rebecca White: Rebecca is a degreed musician from Raymondville, Missouri, who has taught music in public schools and has been continually involved with worship teams at churches and summer camps.

The Full Quiver: The Full Quiver is comprised of the Grubb Family from Collinsville, Texas.  These eight talented musicians and singers carry the gospel message through their versatile mastery of instruments and vocal harmonies.

Troy Johanson: Troy Johanson’s Sacred Fire Ministries from Buffalo, Missouri combines the gospel message in the spirit of traditional native American dance and song.

For the 6th consecutive year, Bob Hubbard of the “Foggy River Boys” and “The Jordanaires,” will emcee the Sing Off. Guest appearances will include Christy Sutherland as the opening act, The Fair Family, saxophonist Gary Dooms, ventriloquist Kerry Miller, and last year’s winner “Changed.”

Reserved seat tickets are a $12 donation for adults and $6 for children 12 and under. For further information or tickets please feel free to contact either the Sight and Sound Theatre or the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550.

 

25 Special July – August Branson Events

Great Southern Gospel Music and food at Silver Dollar City;s "Southern Gospel Picnic."

Great Southern Gospel Music and food at Silver Dollar City;s “Southern Gospel Picnic.”

With its shows, attractions, lakes, shopping and other activities, there is always something that is fun, interesting and exciting to do in Branson. When you factor in the additional special events taking place throughout the year it become sever more so.

Here is a list of some special Branson events, including, among others, two festivals at Silver Dollar City; the Titanic Museum Attraction’s Tribute to the Titanic Musicians; Annual Downtown Branson Fiddle Festival, which will be held indoors at the Owens Theatre in historic downtown Branson; the Super Summer Cruise; Branson Balloon Festival and the CAM Gospel Sing-Off:

July 2014

Jul 1 – July 31:  Titanic’s Tribute to the Musicians
Jul 1 – Jul 30:  Summer Concert Series at Branson Landing
Jul 3 – Jul 31:  Night Water at White Water (Select Dates)
Jul 3 – Jul 31:  Free Ice Cream For Kids I Pledge Program (Select Dates)
Jul 10 – 20:  Star Spangled Summer Silver Dollar City
Jul 11 – Jul 13:  Show-Me F100’s Ozark Run
Jul 19:  Branson Tourism Center Preferred Event with The Haygoods
|Jul 19:  Boys & Girls Club Annual Golf Tournament (Holiday Hills at 7am to 4pm)
Jul 19 – Jul 31:  Moonlight Madness at Silver Dollar City
Jul 25 – Jul 26:  Rockaway Beach Bikers & Babes at the Beach

August 2014

Aug 1 – Aug 31:  Titanic’s Tribute to the Musicians
Aug 1 – Aug 31:  Summer Concert Series at Branson Landing
Aug 1- Aug 3:  Moonlight Madness at Silver Dollar City
Aug 1 – Aug 30:  Night Water at White Water (Select Dates)
Aug 1 – Aug 3:  Missouri State Tax Free Holiday Sale at Tanger Outlets Center
Aug 2 – Aug 3:  26th Annual Downtown Branson Fiddle Festival
Aug 7 – Aug 9:  Super Summer Cruise at Shepherd of the Hills
Aug 19:  Branson Tourism Center Preferred Event with Adventures of Marco Polo
Aug 22 – Aug 24:  Branson Balloon Festival
Aug 22 – Sep 1:  Southern Gospel Picnic at Silver Dollar City.
Aug 22 – Aug 24:  Sleds Midwest Car Show
Aug 29 – Sep 1:  Labor Day Weekend Sale at Tanger Outlets Center
Aug 31:  CAM Gospel Sing Off Sight & Sound Theatre
Aug 31:  Labor Day Fireworks at Big Cedar Lodge
Aug 31:  Labor Day Celebration at Chateau on the Lake

For additional information on any of these events or for information or tickets for any of Branson’s 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 1-800-785-1550 or through its website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com .

 

Branson Tourism Center’s 4 millionth ticket surprises 1st time Branson visitors

Don and Marsha Meeker right after the balloon drop.

Don and Marsha Meeker right after the balloon drop.

It was their first trip to Branson and they knew that Branson was known for its excitement and friendliness, but Don and Marsha Meeker, from Remus, Michigan, were surprised at the reception they received when they arrived to check-in at the Reception Area of the Branson Tourism Center on July 2nd. Hundreds of blue and white balloons fell from the ceiling and everyone was clapping and cheering as they were informed that they had purchased the 4 millionth show and attraction ticket sold by the Branson Tourism Center.

The Meekers were greeted by Lianne and Larry Milton, CEO and co-founders of the Branson Tourism Center, and Dave Hamner, co-owner and star of Hamners Unbelievable Variety Show, one of the five shows on their Branson itinerary. They were thrilled to find out that, in celebration of their purchase of the 4 millionth ticket, that all the lodging, shows and other activities they had booked through the Branson Tourism Center for their entire six day five night Branson vacation was as guests of BTC and at no charge to them. In addition, $100 BTC Gift cards were handed out to all of BTC’s customers who were in the reception area checking in at the time the announcement was made to the Meekers.

When asked what made them decide to come to Branson for the first time Marsha said, “My parents have been here two or three times and friends have been here two or three times. Everybody that I know that has been here has either come back or said that they wanted to come back. I’ve never heard of anybody who said, ‘I will never go back to that place again.’” She pointed out that they have been trying to get to Branson for some time and were considering a bus tour, but decided to come on their own when none was available.

The 4 millionth ticket was actually sold on June 1, 2014, by BTC Travel Planner Irving Garcia, was to the Hamners’ Unbelievable Variety Show and remained a secret to the Meekers, and just about everybody else, until they checked in at the Branson Tourism Center on July 2. Garcia, a Branson Tourism Center Travel Planner, sold the ticket as part of BTCs unique, free, personal “concierge” type service, offered through a toll free phone call 1-800-785-1550, which helps potential Branson visitors plan their vacation, get answers to questions and, as was the case with the Meekers, purchase their tickets and lodging.

Marsha said she called the Branson Tourism Center when she went on line, saw their website, www.BransonTourismCenter.com, and thought that would be the right place to get Branson information. When asked if she was right, she replied, “Absolutely!” She went on to say, Even before all this happened, “Everybody, was so friendly and so helpful.”

Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center said, “That’s one of the great joys in selling our 4 millionth ticket; they were all sold one at a time, with the same friendliness and helpfulness the Meekers felt, to wonderful people like the Meekers.

 

Branson Tourism Center celebrates 4 Millionth Ticket with Gift Card Giveaway

Use your gift card to see Sight and Sounds spectacular production of "Jonah" the smash hit of Branson's 2014 season.

Jonah, the smash hit of Branson’s 2014 season, is just one of the many Branson shows, attractions and lodging facilities that winners can use their gift cards on.

BRANSON, Mo., June 6, 2014 – “We are so excited that the Branson Tourism Center (BTC) has sold just under 4,000,000 tickets for Branson area shows and attractions and will pass that milestone later this month,” said Annette Wood, Director of Sales and Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center. “Just to think of the number of people those 4 million tickets represent, who have come to Branson and experienced its fun, excitement and adventure, is a humbling thought,” she added.

Wood said that, in celebration of the selling its 4 millionth ticket later this month, the Branson Tourism Center is having a 4 Millionth Ticket Celebration Sweepstakes giving away a Grand Prize of a $400 Branson Tourism Center Gift Card and 4 runner up prizes of $50 Branson Tourism Center Gift Cards. The gift cards can be used at BTC for the purchase of any the shows, attractions and lodging that it sells.

Entering the contest is simple and requires no purchase or requirement to have any social media account. Simply go to BTC’s 4 Millionth Ticket Celebration Sweepstakes page, enter your email address, read of the contest rules and submit your entry by clicking “Enter Now.” Once you have entered you’ll have the opportunity to get more entries by helping spread the word about the contest.

“At BTC the words, ‘We don’t sell discount vacations. We sell amazing vacations at a discount,’ are more than a slogan and one of the primary reasons why we will be selling our 4 millionth ticket this month,” Wood said.

Five Reasons to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Branson

Silver Dollar City's iconic world class coaster "Wildfire."

Silver Dollar City’s iconic world class coaster “Wildfire.”

“Summer doesn’t officially start until June 21st, but in terms of Branson’s Summer Season it starts over Memorial Day Weekend,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center (BTC). “Memorial Day Weekend in Branson features the unique blend of natural beauty, live entertainment, lakes, attractions, shopping, Ozarks heritage, and other exciting activities that earned Branson a place in the top 25 destinations in America in the ‘2013 TripAdvisors Annual Traveler’s Choice Destination Awards‘ and makes it the ideal place for families to have fun together, relax, and make memories that will last for a lifetime,” she added.

Here’s five great reasons to spend Memorial Day Weekend in Branson, four of which are great reasons to spend your vacation in Branson anytime:

1. Pristine Lakes: With three different lakes, and thousands of miles of shoreline along Table Rock Lake, Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Taneycomo, Branson is a virtual aquatic paradise offering boating, swimming and a wide range of other aquatic activities along with some of the finest bass and trout fishing anywhere.

Whether one enjoys the lakes from a sandy beach like “Moonshine Beach,” located just minutes from the famed Branson Strip; walking along the Branson Landing Boardwalk; hiking one of many lakes trails, by boat, canoe or kayak or while cruising aboard one of the cruise boats such the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake or the Lake Queen or Landing Princess on Lake Taneycomo, there are many opportunities to experience the beauty and relaxation of Branson’s lakes.

 

Branson's Titanic Museum Attraction takes passengers on an exciting "voyage."

Branson’s Titanic Museum Attraction takes passengers on an exciting “voyage.”

2. Attractions and Activities: It is doubtful that there is a travel destination anywhere near its size that has the variety of attractions and activities that Branson has. Two million gallons of cool wet fun await visitors to southwest Missouri’s biggest water park, the Polynesian themed White Water, with its 13 acres, 7,200 feet of water slides and its new $1.7 million thrill ride “KaPau Plummet.” Its two 240-foot slides each launches riders from a drop-floor four stories in the air into a 70-degree plunge followed by a spiraling loop to the bottom. When you add in the iconic seven story multiple slide “Kalani Towers;” “Aloha River at Hula Bay,” with over 800 feet of “unexpected twists and turns, fountains, misters, bubblers, geysers, a 30-foot tall Tiki water tower and more,” it’s easy to understand why White Water is called “Mid-America’s Nearby Island Adventure.”

And that’s just one of Branson’s many attractions! From butterflies to tigers, world class coasters to cruises, sea turtles to sharks, championship golf courses to mini golf, zip lines to hiking, go-karts  and so much more, Branson has an unbelievable choice of activities offering fun and adventure for the whole family. These include the 1880′s styled international award winning theme park, Silver Dollar City, with its dozens of rides, shows, and craftsmen which will be celebrating its “Bluegrass and BBQ Festival” during the Labor Day weekend; the Titanic Museum Attraction; the National Tiger Sanctuary; the Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure and many more.

 

Dean Z, as Elvis, performing during performance of Legends in Concert.

Dean Z, as Elvis, performing  Legends in Concert.

3. Live Entertainment and Shows: Branson is known worldwide for the quality, quantity and variety of its live entertainment. From shows as diversified as the Acrobats of China, Jonah and Amazing Pets to Branson paradigm shows like Presleys’ Country Jubilee and Grand Jubilee as well as an incredible variety of top quality shows such as Shoji Tabuchi, SIX, Legends in Concert and dozens more Branson offers an unrivaled choice of live entertainment options.

4. Shopping: Memorial Day and year around, Branson offers a unique world class shopping experience. Whether it’s an item handcrafted at Silver Dollar City or a unique item from one of Branson’s many specialty shops, malls, Historic Downtown shops, Branson Landing or the hundreds of other stores, Branson offers a choice of shopping that will delight even the most avid shopper. Where else in America can you shop at an old time “5 & 10″ like “Dicks 5 & 10″ in historic downtown Branson and be shopping in a complex like Branson Landing with its 120 shops, restaurants and $7.5 million dollar fire, water, and music “five” minutes later?

5. Fireworks: Memorial Day Weekend’s two major fireworks displays take place on Sunday evening, May 25, at dusk. One display will be at Big Cedar Lodge as part of its Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks event and the other at the Chateau on the Lake as part of its Memorial Day Celebration. The public is invited to both with the best views from Table Rock Lake, the property’s grounds, or in the case of the Chateau on the Lake, the peninsula area located just north of the Table Rock Dam.

Johnson reminds visitors that Memorial Day Weekend is not only the start of Branson’s Summer Season, but one of Branson’s busiest weekends of the year. She suggests advance reservations for shows and lodging to ensure nor only availability, but the best seating and accommodations. For additional information on Branson’s Memorial Day Weekend activities or information or tickets for any of Branson’s shows and attractions or for lodging arrangements please contact the Branson Tourism Center by either calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550 or through their website www.BransonTourismCenter.com.

 

What you should know about Branson’s “Cruising With Stars”

 

Cruise with SIX one of Branson's hottest groups on the ...

Cruise with SIX one of Branson’s hottest shows on…

In my 28 years in Branson, it has been my personal experience that Branson entertainers are not only some of the best entertainers anywhere, but the most accessible to their audiences. That accessibility is taken to new levels through Branson Tourism Center’s exclusive Cruise With The Stars entertainment experience combining two great entertainment activities, seeing the Branson show of the star(s) you will be cruising with and going on a VIP luncheon cruise with them into one special unique event.

The 100 foot luxury yacht "Landing Princess."

The 100 foot luxury yacht “Landing Princess.”

You will attend the show of the entertainer(s) you will be cruising with and have an unparalleled opportunity to interact with them while cruising aboard Main Street Lake Cruises 100 foot luxury yacht the Landing Princess. This includes a beautiful scenic cruise on Lake Taneycomo, lunch, opportunities for photos, autographs and interacting with them in a unique up close and personal experience that is available only to those participating in Branson Tourism Centers exclusive Cruise With the Stars experience.

The 2014 schedule for Cruise With The Stars, subject to change is:

Billy Dean with Paul Harris & the Cleverlys – May 23, 2014

Paul Harris & The Cleverlys with Billy Dean – May 23, 2014

Legends in Concert – June 19, 2014

SIX – July 17, 2014

The Texas Tenors – September 18, 2014

John and Ambrus Presley of Presleys’ Country Jubilee – October 7, 2014

This special and unique Branson experience is made available exclusively to Branson Tourism Center customers because of the special relationship it has with Main Street Lake Cruises, the participating entertainers and their theaters. “There is a limited number of seats available for each cruise,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, who recommends making reservations for the cruise of your choice as soon as possible. For tickets or information for Cruise With The Stars please feel free to contact the Branson Tourism Center by calling 1-800-875-1550.

Branson artist’s “Hearts of love” paint special Valentine

Tom Crain's "Home of the Brave" with "heart of love" added by author.

I am reminded of British poet Thomas Hood’s beautiful description the meaning of Valentine’s day, “Oh, if it be to choose and call thee mine, love, thou art every day my Valentine!,” every morning, as I turn on the light and see the reproduction of Branson artist Tom Crain’s magnificent painting, “”Home of the Brave” on the wall. In terms of adding reality and meaning to Hood’s loving prose, if the “hearts of love” that Tom puts in his paintings to show his wife Susan, “thou art every day my Valentine” doesn’t do it nothing will.

Tom and Susan Crain have been married since November of 2000, but prior to that, as their budding romance developed, Tom discovered that Susan, because of their symbolic relationship to “the heart of man” loved and collected things with heart shapes in them. As one of the ways of showing Susan how much he loved her, Tom decided to incorporate hearts into his paintings and has been doing so ever since in the vast majority of his works. His first “heart of love” was a heart shaped U.S. Flag on a watch he had.

In June of 2000 he painted his majestic and breathtaking “Home of the Brave,” which is a compilation of his memories of a special fishing trip into the Colorado Rockies with his son, his love and appreciation of the majesty and grandeur of God’s creation, love of country and his love for Susan. It is one of his most popular paintings, toured China and the Orient and is the first of his major paintings incorporating Susan’s “hearts of love.”

The true wonder of the “hearts of love” is the loving and unobtrusive way they are incorporated into his works. In a testament to the artistry and skill of this wonderful artist, although in most cases there is more than one “heart of love” in a painting, Tom’s love for Susan is shared so subtly that one really has to know what they are looking for to find one, let alone the other hearts for his “Susan” that are in the painting.

In the illustration of Tom’s “Home of the Brave,” used with his permission, this writer has loosely outlined the major “heart of love” with a pink heart that is not in the original painting. Notice how subtly the artist has woven the heart into the fabric of the painting starting just to the left of where the waterfall meets the eagles wings and follows ridge lines and shadings to complete its form. There is even a heart within the heart.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

Branson, a special way to end 2013 and begin 2014

Joining the party aboard Main Street Lake Cruises' "Landing Princess" is just one of many ways to celebrate New Year's Eve in Branson.

BRANSON, Mo., December 18, 2013 – “For families as well as individuals it’s hard to beat the variety of exciting ways Branson has to ‘ring out’ the old year and welcome in the New Year,” said Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center. “Branson offers an amazing choice of entertaining and exciting ways for everyone to celebrate the New Year,” she added.

For those wanting a special New Year’s Eve celebration with the traditional Midnight welcoming in of the New Year, many of Branson’s shows and Main Street Lake Cruises are providing a variety of unique and exciting New Year’s Eve celebrations. These include:

Legends in Concert – Show at 9:30 PM featuring the world famous Legends in Concert tribute artists performing their tributes to Brooks and Dunn, Stevie Wonder, Cher, Alan Jackson, The Blues Brothers, and Elvis. Includes a New Year’s Celebration with party favors and various food choices depending on the package selected.

Pierce Arrow – Want a funny and musical New Year’s Eve Celebration with great food? The Pierce Arrow New Year’s Eve Celebration includes a special three hour show starting at 9 PMwith funny man Jarrett Dougherty, Pierce Arrow, Kenya Wilhite, Shonna Bonds and special guest stars. The fun and entertainment includes games, giveaways, wonderful catered food from Vaskens Deli and a live countdown with balloon drop.

The Haygoods – This fun and exciting evening includes Chocolate Fountains, the Haygoods show starting at 9:00 PM with a break between 10:00 and 10:50 PM during which Gourmet Hors d’oeuvres will be served. The Haygoods will resume the stage and perform from 11:00 until the Midnight celebration which includes Pyrotechnics and Laser Show, Party Hats, Horns, and a huge Balloon Drop at Midnight!

New Year’s Eve Cruise on the 100 foo luxury yacht Landing Princess or the riverboat replica Lake Queen – Ring in the New Year by joining us for this 3.5 hour New Year’s Eve Party aboard Main Street Lakes Cruises’ 100 foot luxury yacht, the Landing Princess. Enjoy mouthwatering hors’ d oeuvres, a sinfully delicious dessert bar, complimentary party favors, a live DJ and dance floor, hula-hoop and limbo contests with fantastic prizes, raffle give-a-ways with awesome prizes, complimentary midnight champagne toast, a cash bar with end of year drink specials and a memorable cruise on Lake Taneycomo. Both boats are handicap accessible, climate controlled, and have onboard restroom facilities.

Grand Jubilee – The fun starts with the first half of the Grand Jubilee Show from 9:00 to 10:00 PM. Finger foods, desserts, and nonalcoholic beverages will be served from 10:00 to 11:00 PM after which the 2nd half of the show will be presented leading up to the balloon drop at Midnight with party favors.

Doug Gabriel’s #1 Hits Tribute Show – Join Doug Gabriel and his family for a fun night as they ring in the New Year! The celebration includes the show featuring Doug and his talented cast, drawings, raffle prizes, celebration cake, party favors, a live countdown and a Midnight balloon drop.

Other Branson dinner shows open “New Year’ Eve” for wanting an earlier celebration include:

Dixie Stampede 5:30 PM

Showboat Branson Belle 4:00 and 8:00 PM

Christmas on the Trail 5:15 PM

High flying Hoop acrobatics from the "Acrobats of China," just one of the many shows olpe n New Years Eve.

From a pure show perspective, Branson has shows for the entire family starting at 10:00 AM and continuing into the evening. These include the following listed by time:

Amazing Pets 10:00 AM

Michael J. & Friends 2:00 PM

Todd Oliver & Friends 2:00 PM

Acrobats of China 3:00 PM

Comedy Jamboree 3:00 PM

Acrobats of China 8:00 PM

Comedy Hypnosis  8:00 PM

Gatlin Brothers 8:00 PM

During New Year’s Eve Day and into the evening the following attractions will be open for the whole family to enjoy. Please check the link for hours of operation, prices and ticketing:

Adventure Ziplines of Branson

Butterfly Palace & Rainforest Adventure

Castle of Chaos

Celebrity Car Museum

Hannah’s Maze of Mirrors

Hollywood Wax Museum

IMAX Adventure Films

Inspiration Tower

Ripley’s Believe It or Not Museum

Shoot for the Stars Mini Golf

The Track Family Fun Parks

Titanic Museum Attraction

Trail of Lights

Vigilante Ziprider

World’s Largest Toy Museum

“And that doesn’t include shopping, golf, fishing and a myriad of other activities. It’s hard to imagine a better place than Branson for families to celebrate New Year’s together,” said Branson Tourism Center’s Johnson. She points out that, particularly at this time of the year, schedules and activities could be impacted by weather and offers the services of Branson’s largest and most respected vacation planning service, the Branson Tourism Center, in answering any questions anyone might have or to assist with tickets or lodging arrangements for New Years. BTC can be reached by calling their toll free number 1-800-785-1550.

A special birthday gift for Jesus

Some of the kids and their escorts just prior to embarking on their "Candy Cane Cruise."

BRANSON, Mo., December 8, 2013 – About 50 children and their escourts from “Jesus Was Homeless” enjoyed an exclusive private “Candy Cane Cruise” aboard the luxurious 100 foot luxury yacht “Landing Princess” on Dec.7. While cruising they enjoyed meeting with Mrs. Claus and her elves as she read them a story, singing carols, having cookies and milk, writing a letter to Santa Claus and other activities. Ashley Lauer, the Community Relations Manager for “Jesus Was Homeless” said that the children were so excited and have been looking forward to the cruise for weeks.

But the cruise was just the beginning. When it was over the children were surprised when they were taken to a party room with a beautifully decorated Christmas tree surrounded by a huge pile of wrapped Christmas gifts, each with a name on it. After enjoying a Christmas lunch and a craft time, each child received the Christmas gift with their name on it. Prior to Thanksgiving each child was asked what they wanted for Christmas and the gift with their name on it, as much as practicable, contained that gift. In addition, each child got to pick a scarf, hand knitted by two people specifically for the occasion, for their mother that was gift wrapped for them on the spot.

Christmas tree with each child's "wish list " gift wrapped and waiting,

I could not write this story without sharing two of the many stories about these precious children that that touched my heart. Our cinematographer was approached by one of the smaller children and asked, “Do you believe in Santa Claus?” He replied, “Of course I do, don’t you?” “Well I guess so, but he doesn’t stop by our house too often.” As each child, by name ,got their gift one little girl was heard to say, “Oh please, let there be one for me.” Of course there was thanks to the combined efforts of the employees and owners of the Branson Tourism Center, Main Street Lake Cruises and “Jesus Was Homeless,” who had been working for months to make this a very special Christmas moment for the children.

“Jesus Was Homeless” is a local not for profit ministry started in 2008 with the mission of “serving those who are hungry, homeless and hurting within our community by sharing hope love and compassion…” Lauer said that what she loves most about her job, “Is Serving people.” She points out that its mission is completely different from the wonderful food pantry programs whose primary mission is giving out food to the hungry. We are in the business of building relationships by sharing hope, love, and compassion with people who are hungry, hurting and homeless with the goal of helping them break the cycle of poverty that they find themselves in.

That is accomplished through a variety of programs designed to develop relationships, dignity, value and caring while, as much as possible, not duplicating services provided by other organizations and fostering the building of community. These include serving a hot meal every Tuesday, the delivering of about 850 meals to local motels where the “homeless” are housed each Thursday and providing a hot Sunday breakfast before its “no perfect people are allowed” Gateway Church service for people who don’t “like” church.

The “Jesus Was Homeless” program goes far beyond food however as it attempts to build community and help break the cycle of poverty impacting on its clients lives. Its unique biweekly eight week program, called “Jobs For Life” helps equip students with the necessary skills to apply for and successfully hold a job. A unique aspect of this program is that its graduates are guaranteed a job interview with some of Branson’s biggest employers. In addition, there are workshops and service projects designed to help build relationships, dignity, value and caring by providing it clients an opportunity to give back to their community.

Lauer said, “We are honored to serve our community and are so thankful for the volunteers and financial contributors that makes our ministry possible.” Anyone wanting to volunteer or make a contribution to “Jesus Was Homeless” should contact them either by calling them 417-335-9915 or through their website http://jesuswashomeless.org/wp/.