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On The Beautiful Gulf Coast

Ten years ago Biloxi had built the reputation of being one of the best vacation locations in the United States. The warm beaches, beautiful resorts, fine restaurants, wonderful casinos, family oriented attractions and events built a great resort town.

However, that was the year of Hurricane Katrina and Biloxi had the opportunity to build the resort into an even better location for the hundreds of thousands of visitors it attracts every year. In the ten years to follow that is exactly what happened.

Today, Biloxi is better than ever. The beaches are beautiful, the resorts are rebuilt, the attractions are some of the best in the United States and the casinos are better than ever. This is truly a beach destination that will appeal to every one.

This year after 10 years on hiatus, the Spring Fest is back. This celebration started in 1990 and is back and better than ever at the Biloxi Convention Center.

We can also find the Annual MS Coast Crawfish Music Festival, the Stella’s Blues and BBQ Festival, the Gulf Coast Yacht & Boat Show, the Keesler AFB Annual Air Show, and a multitude of acts coming to the showrooms of Biloxi over the next few weeks.

Also check out the beaches: The weather is spectacular. With highs in the 70s and lows in the upper 50s and low 60s over the next couple of months it makes for a great spring break from the weather. With warm waters and sandy beaches what more can you ask for?

This makes Biloxi a gem just waiting for you to visit. Check out our great packages to this beautiful location and make this spring the most memorial ever.

Grand Getaways

65th Annual Spring Wildflower Pilgrimage

Great Smoky Mountains and Gatlinburg, Tennessee

This has been a spectacular winter.  Snows came early and often this year and the landscape has never been so beautiful.  As winter fades and the colors of spring begin to sparkle throughout the Smokies, Gatlinburg blossoms into the center of all things botanical during Great Smoky Mountain Association’s 65th Annual Wildflower Pilgrimage.

From April 21-25, everyone from the serious botanist to the weekend gardener can experience unprecedented access to some of the nation’s leading botanical experts as well as Appalachian wildlife authorities.

“It is a rare opportunity for those with a personal love of flowers to have the same access to leaders in the field as researchers,” said Ken McFarland, a botanist and professor at the University of Tennessee.  “Through seminars and intimate guided tours, each participant will expand his or her skills and knowledge of the unmatched flora and fauna of the Smokies.”

The Wildflower Pilgrimage, which dates to 1951, offers over 150 programs including an array of instructional walks and guided hiking tours tailored to meet individual walking skill and ability, along with demonstrations and guest lecturers.  These tours showcase the abundant varieties of wildflowers, plants, ferns, mosses, trees and shrubs, as well as birds, reptiles and amphibians, all native to the Great Smoky Mountains.

While most classes take place in the Great Outdoors, a number of educational classroom sessions and evening entertainment taking place in W.L. Mills Conference Center in downtown will round out the week in Gatlinburg and the Smokies.

This is a great opportunity to see the Great Smoky Mountain National Park with all the beauty and glamour of spring.    Online registration for the classes and events began on February 14th and for more information of the event, classes and contests go to the event website at http://www.springwildflowerpilgrimage.org.

Grand Getaways

St. Patrick’s Day across the United States

St. Patrick’s Day in the United States

Regarded as a celebration of the Irish immigrants in the United States, St. Patrick’s day is filled with parades, events, concerts and parties. The United States has several noted celebrations and listed below are a few of the most noteworthy celebrations. With the assistance of Wikipedia and other web based resources, we have assembled just a few highlights for that day.

Atlanta, Georgia

People in Atlanta, Georgia celebrate St. Patrick’s Day by holding a parade that courses through several blocks of a main portion of the city, particularly on Peachtree Street in Midtown Atlanta. In 2012, what was called the largest Irish flag in history was used in Atlanta’s parade. The St. Patrick’s Day parade has been held in Atlanta since 1858. In the 2014 parade, more than 200 units participated from across the South, and as far away as Ireland.

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Boston, Massachusetts

A large St. Patrick’s Day parade is held in South Boston, Massachusetts. During the Revolutionary War on March 17, 1776, when the British soldiers saw a line of 55 American cannons at Dorchester Heights, as well as hollowed-out logs that appeared to be cannons, they left Boston. The password for safe passage through continental lines at that time was “St. Patrick.” The very first celebration of Evacuation Day (Massachusetts) was in 1901. This day is celebrated in remembrance of the day that General George Washington and the Continental Army succeeded in causing British troops to end their occupation of Boston. Major George F.H. Murray of the Ninth Regiment of the Army was the first chief marshal of the parade.

Buffalo, New York

The city of Buffalo has two full Saint Patrick’s Day parades. The first is the “Old Neighborhood Parade,” which is in its 22nd year in 2015 and takes place in the city’s historic Old First Ward in South Buffalo on the Saturday nearest Saint Patrick’s Day (before or after). The older, larger “Buffalo Saint Patrick’s Day Parade” (in its 73rd consecutive year in 2015) also takes place, usually on the day after the Old Neighborhood parade. That parade runs from Niagara Square along Delaware Avenue to North Street. The latter parade is the third largest parade in New York State behind the New York City Parade and the Pearl River Parade. In addition to the full parades, Talty’s Tavern also holds a spoof parade that lasts only one block.

Butte, Montana

Butte Montana’s mining history brought in a large population of Irish immigrants, to the point that Gaelic was spoken as a common language in the mines and Butte had the highest percentage of Irish population of any city in America, including Boston. Today, the city’s population is under 40,000 people, and the annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration brings in roughly 30,000 visitors each year, nearly doubling the city’s population for the day. Butte has a long history of running a parade through the Uptown District of the city and hosting music at a number of venues, including numerous bars, including one featuring booths created from church pews that had been imported from Dublin and a stone imported from County Clare at the door for visitors to touch. Until 2013 there was no open container law in Butte, and the current ordinance only prohibits open containers between 2:00 am and 8:00 am. The day’s events have a reputation for rowdy celebrations.

Chicago River

Chicago, Illinois

The Irish comprise one of the largest ethnic groups in the city of Chicago. Although the Irish are present throughout the city, the Beverly, Morgan Park, and Mount Greenwood neighborhoods have had strong Irish-Catholic populations as does the adjacent suburbs of Blue Island, Alsip, Merrionette Park, and Oak Lawn. People on the south side that are of Irish heritage are known as the “South Side Irish,” and have long had an influential role in the political and economic scene of the city. They even have their own song that features lines pronouncing pride in Irish-American heritage.

The city has many different Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, the most famous being the dyeing of the Chicago River. Each year, the city hosts a parade downtown, which is preceded by the dyeing of the Chicago River. The dyeing of the river involves thousands of people lining the banks of the river and watching as a boat releases dye into the river and turns the river a kelly green color. The Chicago Journeymen Plumbers Union Local 130 has historically sponsored the river dyeing and know the secret to the dye mix.

Another famous celebration is the South Side Irish parade. This is known as more of a celebration by those of Irish heritage rather than a popular activity attended by people of all heritages like the downtown celebration has been known. This parade features traditional Irish dancers, as well as various businesses and organizations from around the city. This parade has been scaled back in recent years as the Saint Patrick’s Day committee announced that it was becoming too large for the community to handle. In 2010, the South Side Parade was suspended. Due in part to pressure from community businesses—particularly pubs and package goods stores—as well as local churches on the city, the parade was reinstated in 2012. Of the various St. Patrick’s Day parades in Chicago, the South Side parade tries to be family friendly and currently has a zero tolerance policy for public alcohol consumption while attending the parade.

The Chicago White Sox baseball team, who play on the South side, are known for their “Halfway to Saint Patrick’s Day” promotion held in September, when the team wears white jerseys with green pinstripes and caps, in lieu of the traditional black.

Cleveland, Ohio

As Ohio’s largest and oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebration, Cleveland has honored its Irish heritage with an annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade first begun in 1867. The parade always occurs on March 17, no matter the day of the week. Originally held in the nearby westside neighborhoods with high numbers of Irish population, the parade has grown to its present day location of Downtown Cleveland. Superior Avenue in Downtown Cleveland plays host to the parade route stretching from E.18th St to Public Square.

In recent years, over 15,000 registered participants march in the parade and display their floats in front of hundreds of thousands of spectators. A new record attendance was set in 2012 with over 500,000 people.

As part of the ceremony of the Cleveland Parade, a grand garshal is chosen to preside over the parade. This is an honorary title given to a man “usually in his senior years, who has contributed significantly to the advancement of the Irish Activities in Cleveland.” This recognition has been part of the ceremony since 1935. Also, since 1963, a “Mother of the Year” has been recognized.

Columbia, South Carolina

Five Points in Columbia, South Carolina, is home to one of the largest Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the southeast. Each year Saint Patrick’s in Five Points welcomes over 40,000 people living the luck of the Irish and celebrating all things Gaelic. Continually growing and improving, the festival includes a 10K and 5K run, a fun-filled parade, family entertainment, Irish food and craft offerings, child attraction, the Pot O’ Gold Playland, a swinging shag dance exhibition and DJ throwdown, as well as five outdoor stages with live music hosting over 25 musical acts.

Detroit, Michigan

St. Patrick’s Day was first formally celebrated in Detroit in 1808. The current parade, sponsored by the United Irish Societies, began in 1959. It is held in Detroit Corktown neighborhood, named after the its Irish residents who primarily immigrated from County Cork.

Enterprise, Alabama

The “World’s Smallest Saint Patrick’s Day Parade” occurs in Enterprise, Alabama, each year.   A person of Irish descent, generally dressed in festive garb and carrying a large Irish flag, is the only person in the parade. He, or she, walks one block from the courthouse to the Boll Weevil Monument and back to the courthouse. The parade is reported by local and national news.

Hoboken, New Jersey

The New Jersey city of Hoboken has held an annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade since 1986.  The parade takes place at 1 pm and marches down Washington Street from 14th Street to 1st Street.

Over the years, there has been much controversy surrounding the public intoxication during this event. The city has issued a zero tolerance policy, and has been enacting $2,000 minimum fines for any alcohol-related offence.

Holyoke, Massachusetts

This western Massachusetts factory town was the site of massive Irish immigration in the 19th century and hosts a parade its organizers claim is the second largest in the United States. It is scheduled on the Sunday following Saint Patrick’s Day each year. Attendance exceeds 300,000, with over 25,000 marchers through a 2.3-mile route in the city of 40,000. A 10K road race and many events create a remarkable festival weekend. Each year an Irish-American who has distinguished himself or herself in his or her chosen profession is awarded the John F. Kennedy National Award. JFK was a National Award Winner in the 1958 Holyoke Parade. Other winners include author Tom Clancy, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and actor Pat O’Brien.

Hot Springs, Arkansas

The Hot Springs,Arkansas, parade is among world’s shortest and is held annually on historic Bridge Street, designated “The Shortest Street in the World” in the 1940s by Ripley’s Believe It or Not. The street is 98 feet long, making it suitable for the shortest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the world.

Jackson, Mississippi

Mal’s St. Paddy’s Parade in downtown Jackson started in 1983 and has grown each year. The parade is the brainchild of Jackson entrepreneur Malcolm White, who is now the executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission. For years, a highlight of the parade was the Sweet Potato Queens, who started a separate parade in 2011 because their ranks of marchers had grown too numerous.

Las Vegas, Nevada

The Southern Nevada (formerly Las Vegas) Sons and Daughters of Erin have put on a parade since 1966. It was formerly held on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, later moved to 4th Street. Since 2005, the parade has been held in downtown Henderson. It is the biggest parade in the state of Nevada with over 100 entries. The celebration includes a three-day festival, carnival and classic car show in Old Town Henderson.

Maryville, Missouri

Maryville, Missouri, home of Northwest Missouri State University, annually holds a parade sponsored by The Palms Bar and Grill that has been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as the shortest Saint Patrick’s Day parade. It runs approximately 1/2 of a block.

New Orleans

Historically the largest entry port for Irish immigrants in the US South, New Orleans has maintained a large population of Irish heritage. The earliest record of Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations in the city is 1809. Saint Patrick’s Day traditions going back to the 19th century continue, including multiple block parties and parades.

The New Orleans parades are mostly based around neighborhood and community organizations. Major parades include the Irish Channel parade, the Downtown Irish Parade starting in the Bywater neighborhood, multiple parades in the French Quarter, and a combined Irish-Italian Parade celebrating both Saint Patrick’s Day and Saint Joseph’s Day. As with many parades in New Orleans, the influence of New Orleans Mardi Gras is apparent, with some of the floats being reused from local Carnival parades, and beads and trinkets being thrown to those along the parade route. New Orleans Saint Patrick’s Day parades are also famous for throwing onions, carrots, cabbages, potatoes, and other ingredients for making an Irish stew.

Various suburbs and surrounding communities also hold celebrations, including parades in Metairie, Slidell, and an Irish Italian Isleño Parade in Chalmette.

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New York City

The New York parade has not only become the largest Saint Patrick’s Day parade in the world but it is also the oldest civilian parade in the world. In a typical year, 150,000 marchers participate in it, including bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies and social and cultural clubs with two million spectators line the streets. The parade marches up the 1.5-mile route along 5th Avenue in Manhattan, is a five-hour procession, and is always led by the 69th Infantry Regiment (New York). The commissioner of the parade always asks the commanding officer if the 69th is ready, to which the response is, “The 69th is always ready.” New York politicians—or those running for office—are always found prominently marching in the parade. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch (who was of Jewish ethnicity) once proclaimed himself “Ed O’Koch” for the day, and he continued to don an Irish sweater and march every year up until 2003, even though he was no longer in office.

For many years the parade has banned participating groups from displaying banners identifying their sexuality.[74][75][76][77][78] In 1989 Dorothy Hayden Cudahy became the first female Grand Marshal of the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade; in 1984 she had become the first woman, as well as the first American-born person, to be elected president of the County Kilkenny Association.

Saint Patrick’s Day celebration, Union Army. Irish Brigade holds a steeplechase race, 17 March 1863.

On September 3, 2014, the organizers of the parade announced a decision to lift the ban on gay groups, as they preferred to keep the parade non-political and the ban was having the opposite effect.

The New York parade is moved to the previous Saturday (16 March) in years where 17 March is a Sunday. The event also has been moved on the rare occasions when, due to Easter’s falling on a very early date, 17 March would land in Holy Week. This same scenario arose again in 2008, when Easter fell on 23 March, but the festivities occurred on their normal date and were enjoyed by a record number of viewers. In many other American cities (such as San Francisco), the parade is always held on the Sunday before 17 March, regardless of the liturgical calendar.

Omaha, Nebraska

Omaha’s “Stockyards” opened in 1883 and was once considered the largest livestock market in the world. This led to many ethnic groups’ settling in the surrounded area, one of which is Irish. The Irish were the third largest ethnic group in South Omaha in the 20th century. Today the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) Sarpy County Division’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade has more than 130 entries and lasts more than 90 minutes as it snakes through downtown and the Old Market.

Pearl River, New York

Pearl River attracts a crowd of 100,000 people, making it the second largest parade in New York state behind the New York City Parade. The parade started in 1963.

Peoria, Illinois

The St. Patrick Society sponsors a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Party on March 17 of each year. The Parade participants march along the designated parade route through downtown Peoria. Awards are presented in the following parade categories: Business Entries, Family Entries, and Organizational Entries. The Parade route ends near the designated site of the family-focused St. Patrick’s Day Party where families (Irish Clans) meet and enjoy Irish Music, Irish Dance and Irish refreshments.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The St. Patrick’s Day parade in Philadelphia is the nation’s second-oldest, having begun there in 1771. In 2013, the parade included about 20,000 participants in more than 150 groups. Participants included marching bands, youth groups, music dance groups, Irish associations, float riders and operators, and flag carriers.

Quad Cities, Illinois and Iowa

A large Irish population in this cluster of Midwestern cities hosts an impressive St. Patrick’s Day parade. It is the only United States parade hosted on an Interstate, crossing the I-74 bridge from Moline, Illinois into Bettendorf, Iowa. Being so close to Chicago, this parade still gathers around 200,000 annually on its historical parade route. Some travel experts have labeled it as one of the top St. Patrick’s Day parades in North America. Much of this is due to the unique nature and small town hospitality you get in the Quad Cities. The whole area combined is a population of around 350,000, with Davenport being the largest city at just under 100,000.

Rolla, Missouri

Rolla is home to the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly known as University of Missouri-Rolla, and Missouri School of Mines), an engineering college. Inasmuch as Saint Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, the school and town’s celebrations start ten days before Saint Patrick’s Day, with a downtown parade held the Saturday before Saint Patrick’s. A royal court is crowned, and the streets in the city’s downtown area are painted solid green. Each year’s celebrations are said to be “The Best Ever.” In 2008, Rolla celebrated its “100th Annual Best Ever Saint Patrick’s Day 2008″ celebration.

In previous years, a pit of green liquid was made by students as part of the festivities, and named ‘Alice’–stepping into Alice was a rite of bravery. In recent years the university faculty has banned the practice out of health concerns.

San Diego, California

San Diego’s 2015 St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is the 35th Anniversary of the largest St. Patrick’s Day Parade west of the Mississippi. Lasting two hours and featuring over 120 entries, the theme for the day is “Celebrating Faith and Freedom” as designated by the Irish Congress of Southern California (ICSC). Enjoyed by more than 30,000, the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival includes three performance stages, a Kid’s Zone, a Celtic Village, dozens of crafts and food booths, two beer gardens hosted by Guinness. Held in Balboa Park, the event was founded by James Foley who had helped organize the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Hartford, Connecticut before he and his wife, Pat, moved to San Diego to open the Blarney Stone Pub.

San Francisco, California

There has been a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration in San Francisco since 1852. San Francisco has always had a large Irish American population and for many decades Irish Americans were the largest ethnic group in San Francisco. However, as of the early 21st century, the largest ethnic group in San Francisco is Chinese Americans and most of the Irish Americans have moved to the suburban parts of the San Francisco Bay Area. Each year, however, Irish from all over the San Francisco Bay Area come into San Francisco to march in or to see the Saint Patrick’s Day parade march down Market Street, held the Sunday before Saint Patrick’s Day. Numerous people from all ethnic groups can be seen wearing green in San Francisco on Saint Patrick’s Day.

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Savannah, Georgia

One of the largest parades is held in Savannah, Georgia. The parade held in Savannah is the largest in Georgia. Many Irish settled in Savannah even in the earliest years since those freed from debtors’ prison were invited to join General James Oglethorpe’s fledging colony. There is a Mass at the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist prior to the parade. In the early 1960s, there was an attempt to dye the Savannah River green, but all it produced was an irregular green stripe in the middle of the river. The parade organisers claimed an expected attendance of around 400,000 for 2011. In 2006, the Tánaiste was featured in the parade. The parade travels through Savannah’s Historic District. One tradition that has developed has been the official “dyeing of the fountains” which happens several days before the parade.

Some confusion exists about the year of the first Saint Patrick’s Day parade in Savannah. There is some evidence that a private parade was held by “an unidentified group” referred to as “Fencibles” on 17 March 1813. Another source states that the first St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Savannah was held in 1818. However, it is generally accepted that the first publicly held Saint Patrick’s Day procession was in 1824, organized by the Hibernian Society.

The 2012 Parade included over 360 participants making it the largest parade in the history of the City of Savannah. Organizers say that the 2012 crowd was well over a million people.

Scranton, Pennsylvania

Due to the rich history of Scranton participation in Saint Patrick’s Day festivities it is one of the oldest parades in the United States. It has been going on annually since 1862 by the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade Association of Lackawanna County and the parade has got attention nationally as being one of the better Saint Patrick’s Day parades. The parade route begins on Wyoming Ave. and loops up to Penn Ave. and then Lackawanna Ave. before going back down over Jefferson Ave. to get to Washington Ave. While it is an impressive parade for a town the size of Scranton, it pales in comparison to larger cities in regards to size. Many people from the area believe this to be one of the greatest parades in the U.S.

Seattle, Washington

Seattle Washington’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade, recognized by CNN in 2009 as one of the “Five places to get your green on” in America, travels along a 1-mile route through the Emerald City’s downtown financial and retail core the Saturday before Saint Patrick’s Day. Seattle’s Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration is the largest and oldest in the Northwestern United States. In 2009, some 20,000 spectators and groups from throughout the Northwest turned out for the city’s Irish shenanigans. Along with the annual “Laying ‘O the Green” where Irish revelers mark the path of the next morning’s procession with a mile-long green stripe, the Seattle parade marks the high-point of Seattle’s Irish Week festivities. The week-long civic celebration organized by the city’s Irish Heritage Club includes the annual Society of the Friends of Saint Patrick Dinner where a century-old Irish Shillelaghhas been passed to the group’s new president for 70 years, an Irish Soda Bread Baking Contest, a Mass for Peace that brings together Catholics and others in a Protestant church, and the annual Irish Week Festival, which takes place around Saint Patrick’s Day is enormous, including step dancing, food, historical and modern exhibitions, and Irish lessons. Many celebrities of Irish descent visit Seattle during its Saint Patrick’s Day Celebration. In 2010 The Right Honorable Desmond Guinness, a direct descendant of Guinness Brewery founder Arthur Guinness, will serve as the parade’s grand marshal. In 2009, The Tonight Show’s Conan O’Brien made a guest appearance at the annual Mayor’s Proclamation Luncheon at local Irish haunt F.X. McCrory’s. And in 2008, European Union Ambassador to the US and former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton served as the parade’s grand marshal and marched alongside Tom Costello, the mayor of Galway, Seattle’s Irish sister city. Spokane, in eastern Washington, also hosts a Saint Patrick’s Day Parade.

Syracuse, New York

In the city of Syracuse, NY, Saint Patrick’s celebrations are traditionally begun with the delivery of green beer to Coleman’s Irish Pub on the last Sunday of February. Coleman’s is located in the Tipperary Hill section of the city. Tipperary Hill is home to the World famous “Green-on-Top” Traffic Light and is historically the Irish section in Syracuse. Saint Patrick’s Day is rung in at midnight with the painting of a Shamrock under the Green-Over-Red traffic light. Syracuse boasts the largest Saint Patrick’s Day celebration per-capita in the United States with their annual Syracuse Saint Patrick’s Parade,[98] founded by Nancy Duffy, an honoured journalist in the Central New York area and an active community leader, and Daniel F. Casey, a local Irishman and businessman. “The parade remains a major annual event, typically drawing an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 visitors to downtown Syracuse, as well as 5,000 to 6,000 marchers.”

Tallahassee, Florida

The Tallahassee Irish Society has been hosting an annual Saint Patrick’s Day event in Tallahassee since 1999. In 2010, along with the City of Tallahassee, the first annual Saint Patrick’s Day parade and Downtown Get Down is being hosted along Adams Street.

Washington, D.C.

A one-day music festival called National ShamrockFest has been held in Washington, D.C. each year since 2000 in association with Saint Patrick’s Day. Approximately 40,000 people attend each year.

Source: Wikipedia

 

Grand Getaways

St. Patrick’s Day in California?

San Diego – The Largest Celebration West of the Mississippi

When you think of St. Patrick’s Day in the United States, you can’t help of thinking about the grand celebrations of Boston, New York and Chicago. These among other east coast cities are known for the grand gestures they convey in being Irish for at least one day a year.

California also has a great history of Irish settlers that migrated west during the gold rush and as seaports became a major part of the California economy. Today the largest St. Patrick’s day parade and celebration west of the Mississippi River, now takes place in San Diego California.

This celebration features a parade with over 120 entries, the Sham Rock music festival, a golf tournament, the Irish Festival in Balboa Park, and multiple other events taking place around town.

The weather in San Diego during March could not be better either. Sunny Days, beautiful beaches and plenty of activities nearby make San Diego another ideal location to spend your St. Patrick’s Day or any other day.

Grand Getaways

Groundhog’s Day in Punxsutawney

Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania

brer_groundhog_at_workGroundhogs Day for 2015 is approaching and it is one of the biggest winter events in the state of Pennsylvania.  Although it is a cultural event based on Candlemas that take place on various days worldwide, it is best know today as an annual event of top hat fashion and celebration in Punxsutawney to see if Phil (that’s Punxsutawney Phil) see’s his shadow every year.  As the legend states, if he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.  If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.

According to an old English song:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come, Winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas brings clouds and rain,
Go Winter, and come not again.

According to an old Scotch couplet:

If Candlemas Day is bright and clear,
There’ll be twa (two) winters in the year.

Another variation of the Scottish rhyme:

If Candlemas day be dry and fair,
The half o’ winter to come and mair,
If Candlemas day be wet and foul,
The half of winter’s gone at Yule.

The Roman legions, during the conquest of the northern country, supposedly brought this tradition to the Teutons, or Germans, who picked it up and concluded that if the sun made an appearance on Candlemas Day, an animal, the hedgehog, would cast a shadow, thus predicting six more weeks of bad weather, which they interpolated as the length of the “Second Winter.”

Pennsylvania’s earliest settlers were Germans and they found groundhogs to in profusion in many parts of the state. They determined that the groundhog, resembling the European hedgehog, was a most intelligent and sensible animal and therefore decided that if the sun did appear on February 2nd, so wise an animal as the groundhog would see its shadow and hurry back into its underground home for another six weeks of winter.

The Germans recited:

For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day,
So far will the snow swirl until the May.

This passage may be the one most closely represented by the first Punxsutawney Groundhog Day observances because there were references to the length of shadows in early Groundhog Day predictions.

How To See The Celebration

This annual event has been extremely, especially after the 1993 Columbia Picture of the same name starring Bill Murray.  Thousands of people flock to the town to be a part of the celebration.  Now is the time to book your trip and see the event of the season and find out first hand if we will have 6 more weeks of winter or has spring arrived.

Contact us to make reservations and enjoy the show.

 

Grand Getaways

Join Florida’s Biggest Winter Festival

Plan now to be a part of the biggest winter festival in the state of Florida.  You think of Florida as being the state for Citrus crops, sunshine and beaches, however, Florida has one other big surprise.  Plant City, Florida (just east of Tampa, Florida) is the Strawberry Capital of the World.  Yes – Strawberries!  And if you ever drove down any highway in or around Plant City you will see Strawberry Fields Forever.

Plant City is also know for one other thing.  It is the host city of the Strawberry Festival every year.  The Strawberry Festival draws the best entertainment from the biggest country stars in show business.  Imagine in one week seeing such stars as Alabama, Mel Tillis, Scotty McCreery, Sawyer Brown, Ronnie Milsap, Sara Evans, Ricky Scaggs, The Oak Ridge Boys, Loretta Lynn, Parmalee and REBA.

Then if you want non country it offers John Legend, Boys II Men, Bobby Vinton and dozens of other stars.  There is even an appearance of Kevin Costner’s own band Modern West.

Now sample hundreds of different strawberry recipes and other great food the festival has to offer, the midway, the exhibits and attractions from all over the country.  This is great fun for the entire family!

This year the festival lasts from February 26 to March 8, 2015.  Get away from the cold and enjoy Florida this year, then discover the hidden treasures this great state has.

Grand Getaways

The Skiing World Focuses on Colorado in 2015

For the first time since 1999, the World Alpine Ski Championships will return to the United States at Vail and Beaver Creek, Colorado. This brings the world focus of skiing to all of Colorado. Facilities at all ski resorts throughout the state will be at their best for visitors wanting to be a part of the ski world this year.

Learn and Ski with the best skiers from around the world as they flock to the Rocky Mountain Ski resorts preparing for the championships and experience the glory yourself as you ski down these spectacular slopes.

Avon will be in the heart of the action with Après Avon – A Street Fair of Music, Tastings and Spontaneity during the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships. One of three major programs of the Championships, Après Avon is the featured “after-the-races” activity each day from 2:00 —5:30 p.m. Conceived of by the Vail Valley Foundation, Après Avon will be an outdoor and tented venue in Avon’s central core and will present live music, performance art, food, craft brews and distilled tastings, as well host athlete signings, visits by the 2015 mascots, and American–rooted activities.

The Championship event will take place from February 3rd to the 15th. Witness the event itself or just enjoy the special atmosphere that will be unique to the Colorado ski resorts this winter.

Check us out for availability this month and enjoy your winter holiday.

Grand Getaways

Celebrate New Years Eve in Las Vegas

We can sum up New Years Eve in Las Vegas in one word: Crazy.

And we mean crazy in a good way. The entire Strip is shut down to traffic and it becomes like one giant block party for you and 300,000 of your closest buddies. At midnight, the casinos launch a choreographed fireworks display that makes the Times Square ball drop look like child’s play. Inside, the showrooms rock with the hottest entertainment and the nightclubs are packed with celebrities and partygoers who are dressed to impress.

This year besides the free celebration on the world’s famous strip, you can also book separately to some of the best New Year’s parties available anywhere. Some of the featured performers that will have shows New Years Eve include: Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Maroon 5, Drake, Robin Thicke, Bruno Mars, ZEDD, Britney Spears, Michael Feinstein, Olivia Newton-John, Iggy Azalea, Snoop Dogg, DJ Calvin Harris, Lil John, DJ Khalad, plus countless others.

This is the biggest New Years celebration in the world, and the place to be to celebrate the beginning of 2015.

Grand Getaways

Christmas Comes To Life In Branson

One of the best Christmas Destinations this year is at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. This is truly a place where Christmas comes to life for the entire family.

Looking for Broadway Quality Productions? Check out your favorite Christmas Stories with It’s a Wonderful Life and Charles Dickens Christmas Carol done live on stage.

How about a Christmas Parade to bring life to the child in each of us? The New Holly JollyTM Christmas Light Parade featuring Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer & Friends can delight.

Want to see dazzling lights? There are 1,000 decorated Christmas Trees, featuring a 5-Story Special Effects Christmas Tree.

The sights, the sounds and the joy of Christmas come alive in Branson. There are over 30 show stages in Branson that also feature Christmas events and some of the nicest accommodations and restaurants you will find anywhere.

Come celebrate a special Branson with us and contact us on how we can get you there.

Grand Getaways

Atlantic City Lights Up For Christmas

The DO AC Tree & Light Fest features 25 brilliantly illuminated and lavishly decorated themed trees in Tanger Outlets The Walk at Michigan and Arctic Avenues.

Tree themes include Atlantic City icons, a tree for each casino, Monopoly, Miss America, Happy New Year, trees for neighboring cities – Philadelphia, Baltimore and New York – and the much-anticipated peek-a-boo tree. Behind closed doors, this tree is a nod to the adult entertainment and nightlife options found only in AC and can only be viewed by visitors age 21 and over.

Holiday Decor 2013

Atlantic City will also feature other illuminated trees at the following locations:

  • One giant, 30-foot, outdoor tree at the base of the Atlantic City Expressway
  • Four artist decorated, customized trees at the Noyes Arts Garage of Stockton College at Fairmount and Mississippi Avenues
  • 200 lighted decorations, 2,800 feet of lighted garland and 1,000 glittering lights along Atlantic Avenue, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, at Bartram Avenue and the Boardwalk and Center City Park at Atlantic and North Carolina Avenues as part of the CRDA citywide, outdoor holiday décor
  • The Deck The Hall Festival of Trees at Boardwalk Hall from December 4 – January 2 featuring unique, custom-decorated holiday trees sponsored by local organizations and businesses to support the Community Food Bank of New Jersey Southern Branch

All the holiday trees and displays in the casinos, hotels, attractions and businesses throughout Atlantic City

DAYS & TIMES:

Nov 24, 2014 – Jan 2, 2015

Mon – Sat | 12:00 pm – 7 pm

Sun | 11:00 am – 6 pm

TICKET PRICES:

Free and Open to the General Public

Contact


Coast to Coast Grand Getaways
7560 Commerce Court
Sarasota, FL 34243
877.718.1400