Miss Pinky the Washington State Fair pig and the Rhubarb the Tacoma Rainiers’ reindeer danced, a baby goat bleated and yes, there were visitors present at the noon-hour Tuesday as the Tacoma Regional Convention & Visitor Bureau hosted the grand opening of its Visitor Information Center at the Greater Tacoma Convention & Trade Center.
Dignitaries cut a ribbon, volunteers mingled and people representing various attractions distributed wide smiles along with brochures.
Raffle winners admired their rhubarb pies.
“This is where you start your trip to Tacoma,” said Kim Bedier, head of facilities for the City of Tacoma.
She noted that a recent marketing partnership joining the city and the convention bureau “has exceeded all of our expectations.”
Any questions? Bedier said potential guests will likely find answers on social media, especially by consulting hashtag #ask253.
Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, addressing the 100 or so guests, said, “We are just beginning to tell our story. There’s a lot to offer here.”
Following a trip last week to Texas to attend a conference of the nation’s mayors, Strickland said she realized again what she already knew – that “we have a fantastic city with a lot to offer.”
“It’s about the energy downtown,” said Monique Trudnowski, immediate past chairwoman of the convention bureau board.
“It helps our visitors extend their stay,” said Bennish Brown, president and CEO of the bureau.
The new center, he said, will provide information to guests and tourists, both to those who are attending meetings at the convention center and to those casual visitors who happen by.
Visitors such as Steven Feiner, a retired accountant from Great Barrington, Mass.
He was standing with his family at a nearby LINK station when someone said everyone should come visit the new visitor center, so they did.
“We wanted to go to the car museum and the glass museum,” Feiner said.
He had never visited Tacoma, and here he was with his wife, daughter and grandchildren.
“I’ve driven past it. I never stopped,” he said. “I think it’s nice. I’m enjoying my visit.”
The family did meet with Mayor Strickland, and it was unclear if he would take his rhubarb pie back to Massachusetts or else ask the concierge at Hotel Murano for some extra forks.
Meanwhile, the pig and the reindeer posed for photos, and the baby goats cuddled with strangers.
There were brochures to read from Gig Harbor, Chambers Bay, the LeMay, the Glass Museum and the Art Museum, Mount Rainier, Lakewold Gardens and a slew of other attractions.
At the Chambers Bay booth, people took turns taking putts.
A free charging station stood ready to revitalize electronic devices.
And this being the Puget Sound area, there was coffee.
And this being Tacoma, there was Almond Roca.