Paddlewheeler visitors enjoy their Vicksburg experience

Published 10:25 am Monday, May 23, 2016

Paddlewheeler America docked at Vicksburg City Front Wednesday during the new ship’s second voyage up the Mississippi River.

On board were more than 100 passengers excited to see what Vicksburg had to offer before heading north to Memphis.

California-based Alan and Gwen Tognazzini said they love the South, but they hadn’t spent much time along the lower Mississippi River Valley area.

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“Of every place we’ve stopped in the South, there’s a warmness,” Alan Tognazzini said. “People stop in the street to say, ‘Hello!’”

The couple toured around downtown and sampled food and cocktails from local restaurants.

“It’s nice,” Gwen Tognazzini said. “There’s a lot to do here.”

Alan Tognazzini added he was impressed by the free WiFi offered in downtown Vicksburg.

“It’s slow, but the fact that the city got together to offer free WiFi is commendable,” he said. “Most of the cities are not as technologically advanced. I think that’s great of the city to do.”

Brother and sister Paul Pedron and Cynthia Moody of California took the trip with family to celebrate their parents’ 60th wedding anniversary.

Pedron said he had heard of Vicksburg in college when he was learning about Coca Cola in a marketing course, and he was excited to visit the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum.

“It brought back things,” he said. “I saw some of the coasters we would set out. My dad was self-employed, and he had a red coke machine out front you would put a quarter in. We would load it as kids. It brought back a lot of nostalgia.”

Moody said it was interesting to see a lot of old buildings and learn about the history of the city.

“It’s a really quaint city with a lot of history,” she said. “Us in California, we don’t go back that far. It’s interesting to see things before California was even a glimpse.”

The siblings also toured the Vicksburg National Military Park and the Old Depot Museum during their stay in Vicksburg.

Friends Lorraine Reit and Richard Weiss of Florida said they had been looking forward to visiting the Vicksburg National Military Park.

“It was terrific,” Reit said. “They took us around and saw where all the fighting took place between the South and the North, but it was horrible to think of so many young people losing their lives. It was good to see that blacks were finally admitted into the army, and they served with great distinction.”

Weiss said the tour was very informative.

“The park is beautifully preserved, and the guide was excellent,” he said. “He was a military man, and he must have been a historian. He knew everything there was to know about the battlefield. He seemed to visualize everything that was going on.”

The pair stopped by the riverfront murals before heading back on the ship.

“The murals happen to be very beautiful, and they have great explanations,” Reit said. “It’s been a positive experience.”