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Old 07-18-2013, 08:17 AM
R. Dale Flick R. Dale Flick is offline
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
Posts: 1,573

*'Tall Stacks' in limbo?*
Hi, AJ &Steamboating colleagues:
Your above combined insights/thinking RE: present fate?'/status of 'Tall Stacks' on the money. I recently went on line using my search machines and called up 'Tall Stacks,' Cincinnati, dates?' and up popped a number of web entries going back in chrohonogical order as usual. Last terse, brief posting I saw was in 2012 not revealing much. Another down the line briefly mentioned a date of 2014. Phone numbers were listed but I did not call from up here in Michigan. The TS offices, originally in Cincinnati down town, moved out to a smaller operation at 'River Bend'/Coney Island. Attempts to phone were never answered or even met with an answering machine. Names of committee members changed as fast as a game of musical chairs in an elementary school.

I've belabored this site too many times on my involvement with the first 'Tall Stacks' back in the mid 1980s [Beginning in 1984] leading up to Cincinnati's then Bictennial Celebration, 1788-1988. Indeed, a labor of love involving many meetings, long hours, writing, typing, calling by phone. All on my own time from work and my own dime, mind you. Originally our committee was simply known as 'Rivers Activities' until it grew, expanded. Judy is 100% correct about the month of October now with the Str. NATCHEZ. When all of the logistics were discussed back in the 1980s, the upper honchos had not a clue. Originally it was planned for possibly May/June. I casually mentioned the issues of possibility of river conditions etc. The upper eschelons simply thought the boats would just jump at the invitation coming here with no financial up front support. I was one of a small cadre suggesting the months of September or October. Yet, we warned the committee about the already scheduled cruises/events many of the boats had in their home ports. "Oh, we don't want to hear all that. Let's just make it happen."

In 1992 I politely bailed out at the first organizational meeting sensing the 'new' group in control [i.e. Corporate types tapped with hope to fatten their own personnel resumes] were simply starting from scratch--without reviewing all the previous plans and statistics. After moments of hemming, hawing, I reached in my portfolio and handed them the original TS proposal with added details--and that was it for me.

Indeed, the late Nelson Jones did legion work in formulating his 'Working Rivers' boat/craft display on the Kentucky side of the river. This caused green eyed envy from across the river where they wanted all the events to be based. Bill Judd also slaved on the issues and could possibly write a book. Another prime mover was Alan Bernstein of B/B RIVERBOATS. Darlene Judd also labored with her committee long hours. The late John Beatty, with his boat/crew, was deeply involved and in no uncertain words set several high level committee people with 'Tall Stacks' clearly in their places. The appearance then of the recently refurbished Str. W.P. SNYDER by John Beatty drew rave reviews as the likes of her hadn't been seen in the Cincinnati harbor for years.

As the events moved on from year to year, statistics/feed-back 'said' there should be more than just an all boat venue. This moved to high level entertainment and other venues now termed 'Tall Stacks Heritage Festival.' More diversity, food, music, related entertainment the new thinking. One huge draw was the late Rose Mary Clooney who sang along with big bands and other groups. The late John Hartford also appeared. The last TS financial report briefly mentioned "just breaking even" and I have doubts about that.

I was invited to meet with a new organizational person who was well meaning but not a clue as to the river or boats. "Well, we'll just invite all the big gambling boats to come as they can make money with cruises and their casino." Basically Cincinnati corporate money is limited with them feeling they'd been burned. Most so-called PAC funds were already marked for the then Presidential campaigns. I met several times with things just fizzling out.

There's no question that any proposed 'Tall Stacks' simply can't survive on just the old steamboat theme. That was glaringly evident in the last two events. Fascinating, interesting to many of us, but totally removed from many of the spectators as time moved on. One media quote from an attendee was, "Like watching ice melt." OUCH! The first event was a blockbuster when the then PRESIDENT [Sister of the late last ISLAND QUEEN] elicited awe and wonder]. The DQ boats were running then adding more color and interest plus revenue. Then, at another meeting I attended, I heard a TS honcho state, "We want SOMEBODY to step up and build a grand new steamboat for Cincinnati to lead the river parades in the future." A number felt like sliding off our chairs under the table. Yep, I saw a lot, learned a lot. Once was enough.

And then came the mini scandal about the profits from the concession company and where it all went with unpaid bills etc. The original 'Tall Stacks' logo came during a meeting I attended with us looking over many fine art posters from the recent 'Tall Ships' event in New York harbor. The logo/name later assumed by the new group. If you don't think some people made money from the events, then think again. Yet, I wish it well and whatever happens happens. Don't even dream of bringing the W.P. SNYDER back at this time as a 'static' display. Any volunteers here willing to haul out their check book to cover the then stated need for "seed money" as a mere $600,000 plus. I wish the city of Louisville all the best in their plans. These people may just show Cincinnati a thing or two. Well, what do I know?

R. Dale Flick
Summer: Northern shores of Lake Michigan.
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