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Blackstone Valley Tourism Council
"Footsteps in History"
The Blackstone Valley, a national heritage corridor that stretches from Providence, R.I., to Worcester, Mass., holds great historical significance as the epicenter of the American Industrial Revolution. It is home to 24 cities and towns, dozens of historical landmarks and hundreds of locally owned small businesses.
The “Footsteps in History” program was started to raise awareness of the Blackstone Valley’s rich heritage and draw tourists during the Columbus Day weekend to visit its landmarks and local businesses. The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council (BVTC) required a strategy and fresh thinking to generate more awareness and tourism in the region.
Northeast PR approached the challenge by designing a pre-event publicity spectacle to memorialize, commemorate and build anticipation for the Footsteps in History weekend by having a restored stagecoach make the first journey from Providence to Worcester in 180 years.
The stagecoach, driven by history enthusiast Bob Largess, traveled from East Providence to Worcester, stopping at schools, historical locations and landmarks. Bob visited with students, politicians and the general public throughout his four-day journey. Northeast PR coordinated TV and radio interviews for the driver, as well as speaking appearances in front of live audiences, in which he shared the story of historical stagecoach travel and the Footsteps in History weekend.
The result: The publicity event doubled media coverage received the previous year, earning stories on the front pages of most newspapers in the region and numerous Internet, radio and television reports, culminating in over 70 media placements. The attendance for the weekend was estimated at 16,000 visitors, the highest the program had seen in years, which provided a much needed boost to the local economy. Today, the Blackstone River Valley enjoys its official status as a national historical park.