On Monday evening, March 19, the Tunica RiverPark welcomed more than 200 STS Spring Meeting delegates and guests for one of its earliest re-opening events since the devastating flood of last spring. It has not been even a year since the Mississippi River extended its muddy grasp high into the Tunica shoreline and sent water, silt, sand and debris into casinos, restaurants and this new interpretive facility that claims a prominent place in this northern Mississippi region's tourism landscape.
A gorgeous evening welcomed travel industry members from a dozen southern states and speakers from across the country. Many gathered on the facility's broad balcony overlooking the river, while others were drawn inside by a sumptuous array of Mississippi cuisine and the outstanding blue band that played throughout the evening. The musicians were primarily college students from nearby Delta State University, which has a distinguished academic program for those studying music and in particular, the blues.
The Mississippi River Museum, which is part of this facility, is still being renovated after the flooding, but many delegates took the time to watch the multimedia presentation in its theater that showed dozens of fascinating photos of the flood's effects. Bill Canter, a marketing official with the Tunica CVB, was personally involved in the cleanup for about six months on a daily basis, and entertained me and others with stories of endless days of cleaning up mud and sand from the park's landscaped grounds and building. No one could have been happier than Bill to be standing in the RiverPark this sunlit evening enjoying good company and great entertainment after what he personally devoted to this cleanup effort.
The Tunica Queen was docked below us and is running again. The park's adjoining ecotrail is also open. Take it from me, when you hit a cold streak in the casino, and want to get outside to enjoy the weather, this beautiful river park is one of your first options.
The Tunica River Park is open again after months of cleanup and renovation
A barge eased southward on a sunlit evening as our group visited the park
Barbecue, gumbo, greens, fried catfish and an array of desserts were featured at the event
The terrace outside the structure made for a wonderful evening of networking in Tunica