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Behind the Curtain – Branson personalities share a Tony Orlando moment

Mickey Gilley and Tony Orlando sharing some memories at the event.

When Main Street Lake Cruises’ 100 foot luxury yacht the “Landing Princess” left her moorings at the Main Street Marina on the evening of November 10 it was on a special cruise to honor Tony Orlando and his service to Branson and Veterans. It was an evening filled with elegant dining, fellowship and memories of Tony’s 20 years in Branson.

While on the cruise, and exclusively for this “Behind the Curtain” article, various friends and associates of Tony were asked, “impromptu,” to share one moment in their association with Tony that stood out in their minds. The underlined portion following the bold type names is a summary of that moment followed by a more complete explanation:

Jack Herschend – He kissed me. I have lived here for 63 years and never have I met a man like Tony Orlando. The first time I met him he gave me a great big hug and kissed me on the cheek and you know, in the normal course of events, we men from the Ozarks don’t know how to deal with men kissing us on the cheek. He’s still kissing folks on the cheek and it comes from his heart. He is a heart driven guy, the most loving man I have ever known. (Co-owner of Silver Dollar City.)

Chris Cathcart – His graciousness. We were doing the “Santa and Me Show” which has a scene in it in Tony’s living room that involves a sofa that Tony and Santa sit on for a major part of the act. Between acts, somehow the sofa had not been placed on the stage. Tony comes down the stairs and Santa comes from the wings with neither realizing the couch wasn’t there until they went to sit down. Tony realizing that the couch wasn’t there said, “Well my couch used to be here.” We rushed around and got the couch out there and Tony used the situation to adlib a funny thing out of it and entertain the audience. After the show when he came off stage, I apologized to him because it was a mistake that could have ruined the flow of a major part of the show, but Tony, being the gracious man he is smiled and said”It’s fine, I never sweat the big stuff, it just happens, mistakes happen.” (Branson entertainer who performed with Tony.

Kathy Lennon – The first time we sang the “Christmas Song.” As we, the Lennon Sisters, sang the “Christmas Song” with Tony at the Welk Theatre for the first time we just looked at each other and there were tears in everyone’s eyes as a special instant bonding took place right there on the stage. We worked with him for three years and he was and is nothing but family to us.

Steve Presley – Tony’s first Veteran’s show. I went to the very first Veterans show Tony did at the Yellow Ribbon Theatre. What Tony has done for Branson and for the Veterans over the last 20 years has been amazing. (Founding member of Presleys’ Country Jubilee, the first show on the Branson strip.)

Larry Milton – He introduced me to the term “Visual Pollution.” During one of my first meetings with Tony he used the term “Visual Pollution” to describe how the billboards leading into Branson cover up the natural beauty of the Ozarks. (Co-owner of the Branson Tourism Center, Branson.Com and Main Street Lake Cruises with his wife Lianne.)

Ross Summers – His willingness to do whatever he could to help Branson. We do a show at the American Bus Association Convention to support a charity. About three years ago the charity was the “Yellow Ribbon Fund” and we thought it would be great if Tony could do the show. I went to Tony and before I could even tell him what we needed he said, “The answer is’ Yes,’ what can I do for you?” (CEO Branson Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce & CVB)

Mickey Gilley – He mesmerized me. The first time I saw him perform the “Santa and Me Show” I was memorized. (Country Super, star as he was departing the boat before departure to go do a show.)

Susan Smith – His ornate ability to make everyone the star. I have worked with him for many years and he has an unselfishness about him and a willingness to give others the credit and make them feel like they are the most special individuals in the world.

Although Tony will continue to live in Branson this will be his last year performing in Branson. Tony Orlando’s Great American Christmas show will be have its final performance in Branson on November 18.


Mother Nature puts on a Branson show for Fall

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

BRANSON, MO, September 25, 2013 – From that first tint of color to the peaceful drift of cascading leaves falling from the trees, the foliage of the Ozark Mountains in Branson provides a beautiful canvas for one of Branson’s best shows, brought to you by Mother Nature. Foliage color typically comes with warm days and cool nights, according to Greg Cassell, Resources Forester for the Missouri Department of Conservation. He says the colors peak during the third week in October. And because of Branson’s designation as a “Tree City,” the area has learned to grow while still protecting this important part of the natural landscape.

“We had a pretty wet spring this year,” said Tammy Johnson, Director of Operations for Branson Tourism Center, “meaning the colors should be a visual delight for our visitors.” One of our visitor’s most common questions is, “What’s the best way to see the foliage?” Johnson responds that there really is no best way; fall beauty is simply there at just about every turn. With that said, Johnson suggests that your list of things not to miss should be topped by the “unique panoramic” view found from the deck of the Lake Queen, a historic paddlewheel boat operated by Main Street Lake Cruises. Using “up close” and “panoramic” together to describe this stunning view of the Ozark Mountains seems contradictory, but in the case of the Lake Queen, it’s the perfect way to describe the experience.

The Lake Queen cruises Lake Taneycomo, a long and narrow impoundment of the White River, with shorelines much closer together than what can be found on Table Rock Lake. A typical sightseeing cruise on the Lake Queen provides an up-close chance to view Branson’s abundant wildlife in its natural environment. The majestic bald eagle, the great blue heron, a variety of smaller birds, and deer are a common sight along the lake’s shoreline. You can enjoy the wildlife and panoramic vistas only found from your vantage point on the water. As the foliage changes color, these vistas turn into a magnificent canvas of nature’s painting.

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.

Another unique fall view comes from the lofty heights of the 230-foot-tall Inspiration Tower located atop Inspiration Point, one of the highest points in southwest Missouri. Found at Shepherd of the Hills homestead, the tower provides an unparalleled panoramic view of the Ozarks’ foliage from a different perspective. Glass elevators transport guests up the enclosed observation deck from which, on a clear day, hundreds of square miles of foliage can be viewed as far as 90 miles away, presenting a spectacular view unmatched anywhere. Enjoy the view while leisurely strolling along the deck, or take a more thrilling sightseeing approach by zipping down from the tower on the Vigilante Ziprider. A quick trip in a comfy seat, hitting speeds up to 45 mph, and met at the bottom by a shuttle that will take you on a meandering trip through the beautiful Shepherd of the Hills’ grounds, returning you to the tower.

There are a number of scenic lookouts that provide a superb birds-eye view of the Ozarks’ fall foliage. These include 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 Dan, across the road from the Dewey Short 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. There are also scenic lookouts only minutes away in several of the small communities surrounding Branson.

Another excellent panoramic view is provided at Point Lookout on the campus of College of the Ozarks. Located atop a bluff overlooking Lake Taneycomo, it provides a unique vista of both Branson’s fall foliage and the narrow winding lake; a simply breathtaking sight. While at the College, you might plan to eat at the Keeter Center, famous for their massive Sunday brunch that features food raised or grown on campus. Include a visit to Edwards Grist Mill and one of the area’s best kept secrets, the Ralph Foster Museum, affectionately known as the Smithsonian of the Ozarks. The museum is home to one of the only remaining Beverly Hillbillies’ trucks featured on the beloved television show.

Branson Tourism Center’s Tammy Johnson will also tell you that a great way to see wide-ranging views of Branson’s fall foliage is aboard the Showboat Branson Belle on Table Rock Lake, or on the Branson Scenic Railway, a real old-fashioned steam engine train.

Webb wins Central Pro-Am Angler of the Year

Mike Webb with a 7.30 pound bass he caught in the CPAA March Tournament on his way to winning Angler of the Year.

BRANSON, Mo., October 23, 2012 — “A big congratulations to Mike Webb on winning the coveted title of “Central Pro-Am Association Angler of the Year,” said Tiffany Isnard, the Director of Marketing for the Branson Tourism Center, one of the major sponsors of the Central Pro-Am Association (CPAA). After a series of tournaments, spanning a period of approximately ten months, all fished on Branson’s Table Rock Lake, Webb, with a final score of 1262.58, nosed out fellow fisherman Brad Butler, with a final score of 1250.73, for First place by just 11.85 points. Bob Neff was Third, with 1233.34 points, Pete Wenners Fourth, with 1196.80 points and Jeff Durr Fifth, with 1182.85 points.

The quest for the CPAA Angler of the Year Award started on Dec. 3, 2011 and ended seven tournaments later on Sep. 15. The “points” earned by each fisherman are more than merely the total pounds of fish caught. They are a combination of points awarded for each tournament in the series, with points being awarded for participation, number of fish caught, total weight and placement in the tournament. To win the title, a fisherman must consistently produce at a high level throughout, the seven tournament series.

Going into the last tournament of the competition Webb and Butler were “neck in neck.” Although both Webb and Butler caught four bass, Webb’s 13.29 pound total weight, including the tournaments biggest bass, weighing 6.95 pounds” and First Place tournament finish; coupled with Butlers 11.06 pounds total weight and Sixth place tournament finish, earned Webb the coveted title of “Angler of the Year.” After earning the title Webb said, “This has been a goal of mine since I started fishing Central Pro Am 20 years ago. I’m ecstatic about winning my second event and the Angler of the Year title.”

Branson Tourism Center’s Isnard points out that Webb also runs a program called K.A. S. T. (Kids Are Special Too.) K.A.S.T. was founded in 1996 to educate kids about the hazards of drug use and provide an alternative to that use. Since that time Webb has traveled to countless school assemblies and other gathering of kids giving a “kid oriented” antidrug presentation and sharing fishing and the outdoors as an alternative to drugs.

As if that’s not enough, Webb is a professional fishing guide operating Webb’s Guide Service and has become the new owner of CPAA. He will take over the operation of CPAA with the start of its 2013 season. The first tournament of the 2013 season will be the two day Pro-Am Tournament, “The Bass Pro Fall Spectacular,” on Table Rock Lake out of the Ahoy’s ramp. Entries will be taken for the 2013 Bass Pro Shops Fall Spectacular and the rest of the 2013 CPAA season both on-line at or via phone at 417-485-5644.

Branson 2012 Tornado FAQ

The information in this FAQ is based on the Branson Tourism Center’s local Branson experience in answering questions and dealing with the constantly evolving situation since the tornado hit during the early morning hours of February 29, 2012. It is current as of March 8, 2012 and any changes after that date, will be dated and added after the question to which the change pertains. Please feel free to call the Branson Tourism Center at 1-800-785-1550 for additional information.

1. If I came to Branson would I expect to see blocks of destroyed buildings like there were in the Joplin? No. Joplin was hit by a multiple vortex EF-5 tornado with winds between 200 and 322 mile per hour which killed 160, injured more than 990 and caused a wide swath of destruction while it stayed on the ground as it tracked through. The damage caused by the Branson Tornado is limited to the specific locations where it touched down as it stayed in the air for most of its track while going through Branson.

2. Is Branson really open for Business? Yes, the vast majority of all Branson businesses, not just its tourism related businesses, were not damaged by the tornado.

3. What about the theatres that were damaged? Only three of the theatres on the Branson Strip were damaged severely enough to impact their operation, the Branson Variety Theatre, Americana Theatre and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand Theatre and all three are expected to be back in operation within about 45 days. All other Branson Theatres are operating as scheduled and those scheduled to open their 2012 season later in the month or April are expected to open on schedule. For example, two of Branson’s pioneer shows, The Baldknobbers Jamboree, “Branson’s first show,” and Presleys’ Country Jubilee, “the first show on the Branson Strip,” will be joining the many Branson shows already performing as they open their 2012 season this weekend. Click here for a full schedule of Branson shows.

4. Was Silver Dollar City damaged by the tornado? No, the tornado did not damage Silver Dollar City at all. It is scheduled to start its 2012 season on March 15 with its “Family Spring Break Days.”

5. Did the storms impact on Table Rock Lake or its activities? Although there was some damage in the Kimberling City area, located the other side of the lake from Branson, there was no damage effecting any recreational or other use of Table Rock Lake in the Branson/Indian Point area and Table Rock Lake is ready to offer Branson guests its full spectrum of water recreational activities. In addition, the Showboat Branson Belle, State Park Marina, State Park Camp Ground, Moonshine Beach and the Dewey Visitors Center were not impacted by the tornado.

6. What was the tornado’s impact on lodging? We saw horrendous pictures of the Hilton and other lodging properties that were damaged. Although, the tornado did damage a few of Branson’s lodging facilities, it has not “substantially affected Branson’s lodging capacity, and the vast majority of lodging properties are open for business as usual.” On a daily basis, Branson has over 18,000 rooms of every type and price range and can accommodate in excess of 60,000 guests. The Hilton, which was featured in the media coverage of the tornado, took a direct hit when the storm was at its highest, and is expected to reopen within less than 100 days.

7. Was the Branson Convention Center damaged? Yes, among other things it received glass and roof damage. It is estimated that it will be operational within 30 to 60 days. In the interim, at the option of the event’s sponsors, and subject to availability, events that were scheduled in the Branson Convention Center are being relocated to Chateau on the Lake or other suitable locations, which sustained no damage.

8. How about the shopping? We heard that Branson Landing sustained major damage. All of Branson Landing, including all its shops, restaurants and famed Water and Fire Fountain is open. Even though its anchor stores, Belks and Bass Pro Shops were never closed, its promenade area was closed for a couple of days to clean up debris and glass from the minor damage it received and had blown in from elsewhere. The shops of historic downtown Branson, including its biggest attraction, the famed “Dicks 5 & 10,” as well as Tanger Mall, The Shoppes at Branson Meadows, IMAX Complex, Grand Village Shoppes and the vast majority of the specialty shops that Branson is noted for are all open and ready to provide that great shopping experience for which Branson is noted.

9. Are most of Branson’s restaurants open? Although the storm did damage a few restaurants, the vast majority of Branson’s restaurants were not damaged and visitors to Branson will have absolutely no problem finding  just about any food they want to eat.

10. If you were me, knowing what you know, would you bring your family to Branson for a vacation this summer? In a heartbeat. In 1975 I was you and in 1986 I moved to Branson. It is with all honesty that I can answer the question so empathically in the positive.

11. Describe the Tornado that hit Branson? It was an EF-1 and EF-2 tornado, originating just west of Kimberling City, Missouri at approximately 1:15 a.m. on February 29, 2012. It traveled east for approximately 22 miles before dropping out of the EF1 classification in the vicinity of Kissee Mills, Missouri, approximately 19 minutes later. It was estimated to be about 400 yards wide, traveled at speeds of between 60-70 miles per hour, had wind speeds of between 85 and 135 miles per hour and tracked through Branson from the west roughly paralleling State Route 76, the famed “Branson Strip before it entered downtown town Branson and exited to the east over the top of Mount Branson.

12. Why do you describe it as an EF-1 and EF-2 tornado? Isn’t it one or the other? It is described that way because the official track of the tornado, named, “The Kimberling City – Branson – Kissee Mills Tornado” by the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Springfield, Missouri, shows that it fluctuated between an EF-1, with winds between 86 and 110 miles per hour and an EF-2, with winds between 111 and 135 miles per hour, at different spots as it hit Branson.

13. The media coverage gave the impression that Branson was destroyed. How extensive was the loss of life and damage? First and most important of all, there was no loss of life and relatively few injuries. As impossible as it might seem, based on the media reporting of the tornado, the vast majority of the property in Branson, located 600 within yards of the center of the path that the tornado traveled, was not seriously damaged, including the vast majority of Branson’s theatres, businesses, residences, attractions, shopping, lodging, infrastructure and its historic downtown district.

14. How could that be if the tornado’s path was basically down the “Branson Strip” and through the downtown? The blessing was that, as the tornado traveled through Branson, it touched down with seeming surgical precision, in relatively few spots. Unfortunately, for the property located where it did touchdown, there was damage, some of it severe, but overall the vast majority of the property in Branson escaped unscathed.

With the exception of a few shows that may or may not be open by the time you visit Branson, everything that Branson is famous for from Silver Dollar City to Branson Landing, attractions, live shows and entertainment, shopping, natural beauty, lakes, and everything else that makes Branson such a special place is ready to provide you and your family the same wonderful vacation experience it has been providing for decades.

One of the miracles of the tornado was that, in addition to no loss of life, it damaged as little of Branson as it did thus providing it with the means to “heal itself” while providing millions with fun, relaxation, entertainment and excitement that will give them and their families a wonderful vacation and memories that will last a lifetime.

Interestingly, even as this is being written on the morning of March 7, an estimated 16,000 to 20,000 people are enjoying all that Branson has to offer in connection with attending the 21st NAIA Division II Men’s Basketball Championships being conducted at the College of the Ozarks through March 13.

Branson Has Something For Everyone – Live Shows and Outdoor Fun

Shoji Tabuchi

Many refer to Branson as “The live music show capital of the world” because of the number, quality and variety of the live shows it offers. “One of the things that makes Branson so unique and exciting,” says Tammy Johnson, the Director of Operations for the Branson Tourism Center, “is that in addition to ‘what’ Branson offers, great shows, attractions, shopping, value lodging, golf, fishing, boating and a host of other activities is ‘where’ they are offered, in the peace, beauty and outdoor splendor of the Ozark Mountains.”

How can anyone who wants to see live entertainment not have fun in a place like Branson with the caliber and diversity of the shows it offers. Branson has an unrivaled choice of live entertainment that is fresh, fun and exciting. Where else can you find a variety of live shows offering the great tenor voice of George Dyer, the music of the 70s Super Show with the Village People or the violin and fiddle playing of the incomparable Shoji Tabuchi? How about the honky-tonk of Mickey Gilley, harmonies of the Osmonds, the music and comedy variety of Pierce Arrow, Presleys’ Country Jubilee or unique one person comedy or music show such as Red Skelton – A Tribute by Tom Mullica or A Country Legacy – Fountains of Country featuring Cody Dooley and so many others? The answer is, “Not many if any and absolutely none that offers it in conjunction with the opportunities for outdoor fun, adventure and excitement that Branson does.”

Boating on Table Rock Lake

Its natural beauty and three lakes, Table Rock Lake, Lake Taneycomo and Bull Shoals, provide an unparalleled opportunity for families to experience the same level of quality, variety, excitement and fun in outdoor entertainment as is offered by Branson’s shows. Whether it’s a leisurely walk along the Branson Landing Board Walk or hiking one of Branson’s many other trails; golfing at one of Branson’s championship golf courses; enjoying a round of miniature golf at the unique Shoot for Stars course or one of Branson’s other mini-golf courses; zip lining on one of Branson’s zipline attractions such as the Shepherd of the Hill’s Vigilante Zipline; bird watching; swimming; fishing; boating, kayaking, geocatching or…well, I guess you get the drift, just about anything to do with outdoor fun and excitement, Branson has it.

Branson’s biggest and most popular attraction, the 1880’s theme park Silver Dollar City, blends in so beautifully and naturally with the Ozarks beauty that surrounds it. This writer has never seen a theme park that has incorporated the natural outdoor beauty surrounding it into its very essence like Silver Dollar City has. It’s an inherent part of the Silver Dollar City experience. Couple that with its many exciting rides, including the spectacular and extraordinary view from the top of its multi-loop world class coaster ride “Wildfire” and it’s hard not to realize what a huge part of the Branson experience involves the outdoors and natural beauty of the Ozarks.

Of course Branson’s Lakes are a major source of outdoor excitement and fun. Lake Taneycomo is one of the finest trout fisheries in the Nation and runs 22 miles from the foot of Table Rock Dam right by downtown Branson and Branson Landing. Although the water temperature and current from power generation at Table Rock Dam makes swimming impracticable fishing and boating, including canoeing and kayaking are very popular.

By far, Branson’s most popular lake is Table Rock Lake. Its 745 miles of shoreline and 45,000 surface acres provides a watery paradise of fun, adventure and excitement. Its bass fishing is legendary. It hosts national tournaments for groups such the Professional Anglers Association, and FLW, regional tournaments such as the Central Pro-Am Association and thousands of individual fishermen providing all with one of the finest bass fishing experiences available anywhere.

Table Rock Lake’s warm water temperature makes it ideal for boating, water skiing and just about every water activity imaginable. The majestic Showboat Branson Belle cruises Table Rock Lake giving its passengers a unique opportunity to see scenic Ozark vistas as it silently glides along while also providing them with an exciting production show and a scrumptious meal.

One excellent way for families to enhance their outdoor and Table Rock Lake experience would be the convenience, excitement and adventure of staying in one of the resorts located right on the lake. Two full service resorts offering a full range of accommodations and recreational amenities would be the Treehouse Condominiums and Still Waters Resort. They have the added benefit of being located within the natural beauty and serenity of Indian Point and being located just moments from the back, virtually traffic free, entrance, to Silver Dollar City while being just a short trip away from everything else Branson has to offer.

The Branson experience is all about excitement, entertainment, adventure and people having fun together. It offers a blend of live entertainment, attractions, shopping and other activities all presented within the background of the natural outdoor splendor of the Ozarks providing an unique entertainment experience not available anywhere else and one, that once experienced will not soon be forgotten.

Record Trout Caught In Branson

August 16, 2005, Branson, MO The Live Entertainment Capital Of The World Branson, Missouri, is the home of the new record for the largest trout caught in the state. On July 16, Bryan Chapman of St. Louis, Missouri, was fishing with his son on Lake Taneycomo in Branson when he caught the record-setting fish. The trout weighed in officially at 27 pounds and 8.8 ounces, beating the previous record held by a fish that was caught in Bull Shoals lake, twenty minutes outside of Branson, in 1997, that weighed 26 pounds 13 ounces.

Branson has evolved into an entertainment mecca that draws millions of tourists for live shows, theme parks, and wholesome family entertainment. Over the years it has become a popular destination for outdoor activities, with three lakes in the surrounding areas Branson is drawing avid fishermen from around the country. The family can go fishing in the morning, shopping in the afternoon and go see a show in the evening, there is something for each member in the family to enjoy and participate.

This is very exciting for Branson, said Lianne Milton, owner of Branson Tourism Center. It brings attention to Branson and shows that there is something for the whole family, whether its fishing, shows or theme parks you can bring your whole family and everyone will be able to do something to do that they enjoy. Liannes company Branson Tourism Center offers discount lodging, tickets and packages to Branson and without charging any service fees. They have recently made headlines by offering all customers who order tickets through their service between August 15 and August 31, 2005, a 40-cents-per-gallon gas discount up to 20 gallons for their vacation to Branson. We are currently offering all of our customers who order tickets through our service a 40-cents-per-gallon gas discount up to 20 gallons when they travel to Branson. Normally we offer all of our customers a 20-cents-per-gallon discount, but by doubling this offer we are addressing our customers concerns about traveling and helping save them as much money as possible on their trip to Branson, noted Milton.

Jim Stafford adds two additional shows full of comedy with heart… and strings!

Branson, Missouri- April 26, 2005 – Jim Stafford, critically-acclaimed by the Chicago Tribune as the “Victor Borge of the guitar”, is adding two more dates to the 2005 schedule of his Branson show, Monday, May 2nd, and Tuesday, May 3rd at 7:30 PM.

Jim Stafford says, “Originally I thought I’d take these days off to play and then I thought, wait a minute — the people I want to play with are in my audiences! So, we added the shows and also decided to make them area appreciation days for the residents of Stone and Taney County. They need a little play time too!”

Jim Stafford will debut his new 2005 show, “Comedy with Heart!” on these dates, blending classic Stafford numbers with new guitar, dance, and comedy. Also, Jim’s children– Shea and G.G.–will debut new numbers as they continue to amaze audiences with their musical abilities. “The Jim Stafford Show is unique to Branson as each number is produced to explore human emotion, from love of family to hilarious laughter. The same feeling goes into his guitar; he makes the guitar sing to thrill your heart, then he puts in a move that is hilarious. The audience never knows what is coming,” comments Lianne Milton of Branson Tourism Center.

As Richard Freihofer of the Branson Church Getaway Magazine says, “Jim Stafford is not just a comedian…he is an artist who uses the spoken word to paint hilarious pictures of people being themselves. He finds the words to remind us about what is important in life, and he’s a master at portraying the human spirit!”

Earlier this year, Jim’s theatre underwent an extreme makeover to the seating, lobby, lighting, and sound to provide first-class accommodations for Jim’s audiences. Reservations can be made to fly first-class at the Jim Stafford Theatre in luxurious VIP seating with extra high backs and legroom. General seating has been upgraded as well for more comfort and space. The Stafford Theatre provides the ultimate in luxury seating to Branson audiences.

The Jim Stafford Theatre presents three shows a day during 2005. The Jim Stafford Show runs Monday through Saturday at 7:30 PM. In the afternoons, “50’s At The Hop” performs at 2:00 P.M. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday with an additional show on Sundays at 8:00 P.M. Doug Gabriel performs his award-winning morning show at 10 AM Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday in May along with hosting the second year of “Branson Spotlight”, Branson’s premier talent search, on Fridays at 11:00 PM. Tim Hill’s ministry presents “The Suns of Thunder” Morning Worship Service each Sunday morning at 10 AM, free to the public.

7th Annual Main Street Hoops Basketball Tournament

Main Street Hoops 3-on-3 Basketball will be Saturday, April 23, 2005 in Downtown Branson. The games begin at 8 a.m.

Admission is free for spectators, so bring the whole family to cheer on your favorite teams. The action takes place at North Commercial Street and Atlantic Street.

Not only is there a day filled with Basketball fun, but every player gets a free T-shirt. Winners in the children and youth divisions up to age 14 will also receive trophies.

Street basketball rules for 3-on-3 apply to this tournament. There are divisions for youth and children starting at age 7. A range of adult team divisions will give the “Top Guns” and even the Couch Potatoes a day of fun and tough competition. Corporate teams are also encouraged to enter.

The team entry fee is $40. Teams of three to four players may enter. The deadline to enter is April 20. After that, the entry fee will be $50.

Moon River

“Moon River” is a song composed by Johnny Mercer and Henry Mancini in 1961. It was sung in the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Audrey Hepburn, the movie’s star, while the song itself won that year’s Academy Award for Best Song for Mercer and Mancini. The success of the song was responsible for re-launching Mercer’s career as a songwriter, which had stalled in the mid-1950s as rock and roll replaced jazz standards as the popular music of the time.

Mercer and Mancini originally wrote the song for Hepburn to fit the actress’ limited vocal range (Hepburn was not an accomplished and established singer). “Moon River” is introduced by Hepburn during the sequence where George Peppard’s character, Paul ‘Fred’ Varjak, discovers Holly Golightly (Hepburn) singing (with guitar in hand) on the ledge of her apartment during a rainstorm.

Although an original score album to “Tiffany’s” was released, it did not contain Hepburn’s original version. Instead, an album version recorded by Mancini and his chorus was released as a single and became a Top 40 hit. Subsequently, it was released by UK singer Danny Williams, who got a UK #1 with it. Shortly thereafter, Andy Williams would make the song an even bigger hit (even going as far as making it his theme song). Many other artists have recorded it since. It was only months after Hepburn’s death in 1993 that the original version was finally released on an album. Despite Williams’ success with the song, for many Hepburn’s simple recording is considered the definitive performance.

An inlet near Savannah, Georgia, Johnny Mercer’s hometown, was named “Moon River” in honor of this song. Williams later named his production company and venue in Branson, Missouri after this song, whose lyrics read:

Moon River, wider than a mile
I’m crossing you in style someday
Oh, dream maker, you heartbreaker,
Wherever you’re goin’,
I’m goin’ your way
Two drifters off to see the world
With such a lot of world to see
We’re after the same rainbow’s end
Waitin’ ’round the bend
My huckleberry friend, Moon River, and me.
  • In the movie, Holly and Paul perform some petty shoplifting at a five and dime store, stealing a pair of plastic Halloween masks. Appropriately, Holly’s mask is that of cartoon character Huckleberry Hound, a reference to the “huckleberry friend” of the song.

Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce/CVB announces 2004 Community Award recipients

The Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce and Convention & Visitors Bureau announced today the recipients of the 2004 community awards. The awards were presented at the Chamber’s annual Black Tie dinner and gala held February 25, 2005 at the Chateau on the Lake in Branson, MO.

Corporate sponsors for the evening were Akers & Arney Insurance, Ozark Mountain Bank, and Ozarks Family Vision Centre/Missouri Eye Institute. In addition to dinner and entertainment provided by The Thundering Red Rockets, the evening served as an opportunity to recognize those who have made a significant contribution to the Branson/Lakes area. The awards presented at the 2005 event were:

The Mary Award, named in honor of Mary Herschend and Mary Trimble, the first recipients, was presented to Steve Weyher, operator of Golden Corral restaurant, for his outstanding service to the community and its residents. Steve has been a long-time supporter of the area’s events for veterans, and community marketing programs such as Hot Winter Fun. In 2004, Steve made a significant contribution to the “Branson’s Fun for Everyone” grassroots campaign by rallying local support for the program’s efforts to encourage visitors to Branson. Steve regularly donates his company’s services, and his personal time and energies when called upon by the community.

The Pioneer Award was presented to Jim Thomas, owner of the Lodge of the Ozarks complex, in appreciation for many years of service and dedication to the Branson community. A man of vision, Jim brought legendary entertainers such as Roy Clark to Branson for the first time, and later encouraged some of them to build their own theaters, prompting national recognition for the area. Jim was instrumental in developing Branson as a year round destination by being the first to extend his theater’s performance season. He encouraged the growth of the first convention and group tour business to Branson, and has continually upgraded his Lodge complex to provide visitors with a first-class entertainment, lodging, dining and meeting experience.

The Ambassador Award was presented to The Vacation Channel for its exemplary ambassadorship for the Branson/Lakes area. The company’s commitment to providing first-rate programming and high-quality production services has made an outstanding impression on millions of visitors to the area. The owners and staff provide professional, thoughtful customer service to their clients, and they have been recognized numerous times within their industry for their award-winning work.

The Beautification Award was given to the Keeter Center at College of the Ozarks for its enhancement of the Branson/Lakes area. The state-of-the art, beautifully crafted facility and grounds provide a truly memorable sensory experience for visitors, residents and students. The new facility will provide C of O students with many wonderful learning experiences for generations to come.

The Community Spirit Award, created and sponsored by Myer Hotels, was presented to Bert Leman, owner of Artilla Cove Resort, for his outstanding efforts to promote the Indian Point and Branson/Lakes areas. He has served as the Indian Point Chamber president, as a Village Trustee, and member of the Indian Point Village Board of Public Works. His efforts to produce the Enchanted Forest Light Display at Indian Point have helped attract over 80,000 visitors to the area. Bert has been a hands-on participant on many Branson/Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce committees.

The event also included a special achievement award for Michael London, publisher of Branson’s Update Magazine, for his volunteer efforts to organize the grassroots “Branson’s Fun for Everyone” public relations campaign. Michael donated his time and resources to rally the community behind his comprehensive plan to tell visitors that Branson is a ‘fun’ place for all. Among other features, the campaign included community-wide special events and rallies, promotional materials for sponsors, a website, a trip give-away, a movie short, a theme song and the services of a PR firm that helped bring national media exposure to the Branson/Lakes Area.

Two special recognition awards were given to Branson/Lakes Area Chamber volunteers for their above and beyond service to their community and to the Chamber.

Greg Maycock, owner of Indian Point Resort, has demonstrated a tireless commitment to the area and the Chamber through his hands-on service. He has been instrumental in the development of the Chamber’s new website, the Vacation Guide and other publications, and even volunteered to help manage the marketing programs of the Chamber when the Marketing Vice President’s position was vacant. He also serves on the Chamber Board of Directors.

Lucy Epperson has a long-standing record of exemplary volunteer service as an ambassador for the Chamber. She regularly works as a welcome center volunteer and rarely misses a ribbon cutting. Lucy is a delightful role model for other community servants and a gracious and welcoming host to visitors.

The evening also included a video presentation of the “Branson Promise,” produced by The Vacation Channel and featuring dozens of area residents who donated their time in bringing to life the written statement describing the spirit of the area.