April 2009

Hot air balloon in Coolidge Park with the Delta Queen behind.

Hot air balloon in Coolidge Park with the Delta Queen behind.

We were delighted yesterday to find a hot air balloon being put up right in Coolidge Park beside the boat. They were offering tickets for short lifts up and then back down. Cool!

There’s always something happening here in the park. They symphony plays the Independence Day concert here, accompanied by the city’s fireworks display. Summer Saturdays, families gather with picnics and blankets to enjoy movies projected on a big screen. Every afternoon, and especially on the weekends, the park is bustling with energetic crowds savoring the view. And the Delta Queen has become a centerpiece for all of this.

It’s great to see a community take such full advantage of a lovely city park.

Utility connections for Delta Queen in Coolidge Park.

Utility connections for Delta Queen in Coolidge Park.

Another floating restaurant was previously at this same dock here at Coolidge Park, so connections to water, sewer, electric, natural gas, (and even cable internet!) are readily available. So far, everything is operational except the natural gas, and plans call for that to be hooked up soon.

All of these connect through flexible cables or hoses that can adjust with the slight level changes in the pool of the Tennessee River behind Nickajack Dam.

Also, they are all designed to be quickly removable in the event the Delta Queen is able to return to overnight cruising.

There’s an erroneous rumor floating around the internet that the Pitman Arms connecting back to the paddlewheel have been disconnected. Not true. Here’s a couple of photos to assure everyone that the boat is still very much in working order. As a matter of fact, these operators are required by their contract with the boat’s owners (Ambassadors International) to keep the boat in condition to return to cruising should that ever become a reality.

The boat looks better than ever. Shining and gleaming. Even the cabin doors have been varnished and the doorknobs polished! All the handrails have been sanded and varnished. The interior is sparkling. Even the exterior decks and the smokestack have received fresh coats of paint.

When I boarded the boat in New Orleans for her relocation to Chattanooga, I was shocked at just what can happen to a boat sitting over just a few months. She looked pitiful. Much love (and money) is being dedicated to restoring the Delta Queen to her rightful glory.

Laura and Bill in the Delta Queen's Orleans Room.

Laura and Bill in the Delta Queen's Orleans Room.

Laura Sable and I have been contracted to develop and present a diverse program of entertainment and enrichment onboard the Delta Queen as she begins her new career as a boutique hotel in Chattanooga. We are honored and excited to continue to be a part of preserving and sharing the joy of this treasure with visitors to the Chattanooga area. Once the boat opens, we’ll be performing Tuesday through Saturday and stay through July, so come and visit!

The beauty of the Delta Queen combined with the charming Chattanooga waterfront, plus fine dining and onboard entertainment. It sounds like a winner to me!

Stay tuned to this blog for frequent updates, photos and videos.

Also, visit the new Delta Queen Hotel website at www.DeltaQueenHotel.com

Stay tuned for the latest news!


Laura and I did a little photo shoot today to get some photos to illustrate the boat and the entertainment product. Some are silly, but I think we got a few that might work. These are for use on the DQ Hotel websits (to visit CLICK HERE). At least these will enable them to finally take down the entertainment photos of the American Queen stage! Those are the only entertainment photos they had, but as many of you know, nobody could every confuse the AQ stage with the DQ stage (and yet, I wouldn’t trade for this cozy, special old place!). Laura and I are so excited to get our shows up and running soon. We’ll keep you posted on the developments. Enjoy the pictures. Click on them to see them larger.

The Delta Queen at Chattanooga's Coolidge Park.

The Delta Queen at Chattanooga's Coolidge Park.

Yes, I know. I’ve received your many requests for pictures of the boat at her new home. Here is the Delta Queen docked at Chattanooga’s Coolidge Park. The park is on the north shore of the Tennessee River, directly across from downtown.  This first photo is taken from the Market Street Bridge looking upriver with the park off to the left. Yes, she is docked facing downriver. This is rare for a riverboat (and boy was it a feat of piloting when Captain John Dugger and Captain Finley Frasier nestled her in here back in February by threading her thought the bridge spans in a 40 mph wind!).

The park is beautiful and apparently a Chattanooga favorite. It’s pretty quiet during the weekdays, but afternoons, evening and weekends, it is hopping! There is an old carousel in the building in the far upper left corner with the bright blue roof. It is a big draw.

img_0245-1This second photo is also taken from the Market Street Bridge, but looking back toward the river and across toward downtown. The small island in the upper left is McClellan Island, an 18-acre Audubon Society bird sanctuary. The old railroad bridge in the background is now a pedestrian bridge and connects Coolidge Park to downtown.

Alterations are underway to the dock and connections are being made to the city water and wastewater services. There’s a lot happening and it is really interesting to watch it all unfold. Stay tuned!

Interesting article comparing the Delta Queen’s new career to California’s Delta King. CLICK HERE.

Happy Easter!

We have been happily staying in Chattanooga’s StoneFort Inn. This lovely, elegant hotel is also a property of Delta Queen Hotel partner Sydney Slome. He and his gracious staff at the hotel have made us feel so welcome in Chattanooga. The hotel is truly spectacular. Large, wonderful rooms and blessedly healing large jucuzzi tubs. If you’re planning a trip to visit and stay aboard the DQ then I recommend you extend your trip and include a stay and the StoneFort Inn.

Almost all the staff is off today. No tours. We went over to the boat for a while and walking through was very eerie. It’s way too quiet. I miss all the passengers drifting around and stopping to visit. I really miss the crew. The energy, vitality and shared experience of a group who loved the boat, the river and took pride in tending the flame of a flickering piece of American history. I miss Lloyd’s positive energy. I miss Jonena’s lovely smile. I miss Anne-Marie’s joviality. I miss Maurice, who to me was always the epitomy or the Delta Queen experience. To all the crew scattered around the nation – We Miss You so very much!

I’m so tired I can barely see straight. The boat was open for tours today and in six hours we had around 250 visitors. Thankfully there’s now several of us to divide these up, so that helped, but my throat is tired, my feet are throbbing, and my back aches. But it is so exciting to see so many people so fascinated with the old Delta Queen. It was fun giving the tours and watching new people discover how beautiful she is and what a fascinating story she has to tell.

If these tours are any indication, I think the hotel and restaurant have a great future ahead.

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