Polar Express- main street

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 18, 2015

Main Street exec: ‘make good impression’

By John Howell

Community preparation for visitors who come to Batesville to experience the Polar Express Train Ride should emphasize “quality over quantity,” Mississippi Main Street President Jan Miller said  last week. 

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“You have the opportunity of a lifetime,” Miller said. “There are going to be people coming in from all over. … The tickets are selling like crazy,” she added.

Miller visited Batesville during Tuesday and Wednesday, including meeting with the Main Street Design Committee which is helping to coordinate decorating with business and store owners and the city.

“We have one chance to make a good impression,” Miller said.

The state Main Street officials urged owners of businesses and buildings on the Public Square to clean up storefronts and public frontage along sidewalks and to decorate. She encouraged cross-promotion among businesses and Batesville Main Street using Facebook and other social media.

“For the stores, we want beautiful displays and friendly staff and service,” she said.

“Be open when they are loading that train,” Miller said. “Open up your store; be gracious; be that hostess.” She encouraged merchants to get together and agree on feasible extended hours.

Main Street is sponsoring a window decorating contest that will offer $500, $250 and $150 to first through third places, respectively, she said. Activity surrounding the train rides is also expected to attract non-riding visitors to the Square, Miller said.

Batesville Main Street is creating a special commemorative ornament for merchants.

“The promotion committee is working with Spirit Song Pottery; we’re going to do an ornament that is the State of Mississippi, has a train on it, has “Believe” and has Batesville on it,” Main Street Manager Colleen Clark said. 

Main Street has ordered 1,000 ornaments that will be available for any store that wants to sell them, she said.

“They are working very seriously; they are working hard to make this a great experience.”

The Polar Express preparation will also carry over to other visitor-oriented events, Clark said, including the UKC Winter Classic, Bluetick Days and the St. Jude Bass Classic.

The 2015 Panola Partnership Fall Forum on October 22 includes a session by Mississippi Development Authority Visit Mississippi Director Malcolm White to help prepare for visitors, Clark said.