(5/22) The picturesque Mason Dixon Welcome Center just north of Emmitsburg on Route 15 kicked off the 2013 tourism season with an open house on May 8 as part of the National Travel and Tourism Week.
Memorial Day weekend may traditionally be considered the beginning of vacation season, but since a 1983 joint resolution was passed in Congress, the first full week of May has been designated as National Travel and Tourism Week. More than 120 travel destinations participated in this year's observation of the tradition, including all five of
Maryland's welcome centers.
This summer is expected to be exceptionally busy for the Mason Dixon Center, which already receives the highest number of tourist buses, many of which come from upstate New York en route to D.C., compared to the other welcome centers on I-95 and I-70. With celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg expected to draw
crowds numbering into the millions, the Center will be a resource not only for travelers looking for restrooms, but perhaps also for those seeking alternative--especially less crowded–activities and attractions in the area.
On Friday, June 28, there will be a ribbon cutting ceremony beginning at 10 a.m. to mark the Center's reopening and the installation of new exhibits highlighting the area's local orchards, scenic byway, and the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial, among other attractions. The ceremony will include living historians and will be capped with
a short Civil War lecture about Emmitsburg and its role during the Battle of Gettysburg, all leading into Emmitsburg's Heritage Days festivities planned for that weekend.
The Mason Dixon Center has quickly gotten back on its feet after being shuttered for two years due to state budget cuts. It has five paid employees, but also relies on a dedicated volunteer staff, and is working with Mount Saint Mary's to recruit student volunteers, especially those studying history. The staff are extremely knowledgeable
about the region's most popular sites for tourists, but also pride themselves on being able to direct local residents to attractions they may have never heard of.
Last year the Center hosted its first annual Veteran's Day open house, drawing in local businesses that donated food and drinks. The Center's supervisor, David Yoder, himself a veteran, hopes to make this year's open house even bigger and better.
The Mason Dixon Welcome Center is open Wednesday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Read other news stories related to the Emmitsburg