CLINTON — The American Queen and the American Duchess will make their way to Clinton again this year.
The American Queen will stop in Clinton on Aug. 2 and again Sept. 6. The American Duchess will arrive Aug. 30. Each vessel will arrive around 8 a.m. and will depart at 5 p.m.
The ships will dock at the new docking station between the Candlelight Inn and the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre along Clinton’s Riverview Drive. There will be 166 passengers on the Duchess; if it reaches capacity, there will be 436 passengers on the Queen.
When the passengers disembark, they can go to the kiosk on Riverview Drive near the Showboat and receive a map of Clinton and its attractions. New to the event this year will be volunteers in costume representing people like Tom Sawyer and lumberjacks to welcome the passengers. There will be live music and local businesses will be there handing out coupons to their stores for the passengers to use while they are in town.
Passengers have the opportunity to pay for a bus tour around Clinton called the Hop-on Hop-off tour. If they choose this option then they will go on a scheduled tour. On this tour, they will visit downtown Clinton and do some shopping there, the Clinton Sawmill Museum, the Lyons neighborhood to do some more shopping, and also will visit de Immigrant windmill in Fulton, Illinois.
Those who do not choose to do the Hop-on Hop-off bus tour can walk around the community on their own. Local residents also can stop by to talk to the vessel’s passengers.
“It is a great experience for both visitors and locals,” said Mary Seely, director of the Clinton Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Seely said the ships’ stops in Clinton give locals the opportunity to learn about what life is like where the passengers are from, and gives passengers an idea about what life is like here in Clinton.
This event would not be possible if it weren’t for the volunteers that give their time to help out, Seely said. This year there are five Hop-on Hop-off tour guides and drivers and 42 volunteers who are local residents. The volunteers will assist passengers once they get off the boat and will answer any questions the passengers may have.
Seely said they have been planning the event since January. Some of the things that they have to do are plan the bus tours’ routes, book hotel rooms for the bus drivers and guides, and make an itinerary.
They also work with the city’s fire, water and public works departments and with the street department so they can block off some of the roads. Seely said it is a long process and that once a vessel leaves, they start preparing for when it arrives again.