Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Floods Threaten Celebration of Recovery

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Floods Threaten Celebration of Recovery

Article excerpt

The Midwest is gearing up for a big bash, a nine-state party to let tourists know that all is well after the devastating 1993 flood.

Well, not so fast.

As floodwater rises again, party planners are edgy.

"I know the waters are coming up quickly, but we're hoping it won't be like it was last time," Liz Elman of M. Silver Associates Inc. said Tuesday. "Our plans are to go ahead with the picnic."

Nine states, including Missouri and Illinois, are using federal grants to host "The World's Largest Picnic" on July 4. More than 2 million people are expected to attend the 50-city event.

Last year, M. Silver Associates Inc. - a New York public relations firm - won a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration to run a promotional campaign for the Midwest. The states received similar-size grants of their own to promote flood recovery.

The party is the culmination of that campaign.

"We wanted to let people know that the Midwest was high and dry and ready to accept visitors," Elman said.

Then the rains came again - hard.

"If late June rolls around and the flooding hasn't let up, it would be ridiculous to have the World's Largest Picnic to celebrate our recovery," said Steve Kappler of Missouri's Division of Tourism.

Missouri tourism officials know the recent flooding could put a damper on the party's purpose. …

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