Albany tries to bring people downtown - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany tries to bring people downtown

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Brochures at the Albany Visitor's Center on Front Street. Brochures at the Albany Visitor's Center on Front Street.
The sign for the old Arctic Bear sits at the Thronateeska Heritage Center.  The Arctic Bear was a popular hangout for young and old for decades. The sign for the old Arctic Bear sits at the Thronateeska Heritage Center. The Arctic Bear was a popular hangout for young and old for decades.
All signs point to the attractions on offer in downtown Albany on this sign outside of the Thronateeska Heritage Center. All signs point to the attractions on offer in downtown Albany on this sign outside of the Thronateeska Heritage Center.
A young visitor looks at the Piranha tank at the Flint Riverquarium. A young visitor looks at the Piranha tank at the Flint Riverquarium.
A young visitor looks at fish in the Blue Hole at the Flint Riverquarium in Albany. A young visitor looks at fish in the Blue Hole at the Flint Riverquarium in Albany.
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Downtown Albany is still struggling to become a thriving tourist destination.

And there's a particularly rough road ahead for the Riverquarium now that taxpayer funding has been cut.

Downtown promoters are turning to their creativity to attract tourists.

Tourists like Wesley Alvis.  He's spending the day with his family. The eight year old from Moultrie is taking in the latest show at the Wetherbee Planetarium.

Tommy Gregors is the Executive Director of the Thronateeska Heritage Center.  He tells us what Wesley is seeing: "it's the Earth, Moon and Sun. It talks about the Moon phases and relationship."

While he was being entertained, he was actually learning as well.

Alvis said, "it proved different ways that people believed, but then it proved it wrong."

And that's appropriate, because downtown Albany has been trying to clear up some misconceptions of its own.

Lisa Riddle is the Executive Director of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau.  She said, "it's a great place to go. We're safe downtown and there's lots of things in downtown Albany."

Part of the way that the city is trying to make this a great place to go is through attractions like Thronateeska. And to do that, they have to give people new reasons to come here - by offering to take them out of this world.

"We've got the first high definition field dome projection system in the country that was installed here," said Gregors.

For Thronateeska, the other half of the attraction is the history aspect. It's another way they're trying to get people to make their way to the museum, just like they made their way to the depot in an earlier time.

Down the trail a little ways from the Thronateeska Heritage Center is the Flint Riverquarium, where they're also trying to do special things to draw visitors in this summer.

The Riverquarium is running a special on annual memberships on Sundays in July, but that's not all that they're doing.

"We have Thursday evening paddle, where people can spend 45 minutes paddling the Flint River and then come to the Riverquarium where they can have snacks and hors d'oeuvres," said Vicki Churchman, the Member and Volunteer Services Manager for the Riverquarium.

But will all of these events continue to bring people downtown? At least one visitor seems to be willing to make a return trip.

Wesley Alvis said, "I think it would be fun if people brought the whole family."

And if more visitors make their way downtown, that will leave the people here bubbling over with optimism about the future.

If you want to see what's going on in Downtown Albany, you can go to the web site of the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which you can reach by clicking here.

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