HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — She’s a portal to the time when Mark Twain penned classic tales while looking out onto the mighty Mississippi. She’s the American Queen.
Described as the largest, most opulent riverboat in the world, the American Queen steamed into Huntington Monday morning to the delight of the crowd gathered to see her.
It’s the riverboat’s first stop in Huntington since 2003.
David Ball, a Huntington councilman who remembers well the days when the Jewel City played host to riverboats, said he is overjoyed to see one docked in the city again.
“The old Convention and Visitor’s Bureau chased these riverboats out of Huntington by not being receptive,” Ball said. “That is definitely not the case now. Everyone involved, the passengers and crew have said nothing but wonderful things about Huntington and the welcome we’ve given them. The crew even wants to dock here overnight.”
While playing tour guide, Ball said passengers asked him multiple times about home tours in the Ritter Park area, and kept raving over landmarks such as Pullman Square and Marshall University.
The collegiate landmark was a favorite of Margaret Payne, who boarded the American Queen with her husband Fonis in Cincinnati. She said she has never been a water person, but has loved her riverboat cruise. Huntington has been particularly wonderful, Payne said.
“The downtown has great energy,” Payne said. “The thing I really loved was seeing so many young people out enjoying the city. Everyone was so happy to be out, and they seemed really happy to see us.”
The reception of the passengers from the city is the main difference between this stop and the American Queen’s last, Ball said. He said the CVB went all out in making sure those stepping off the riverboat received a quality welcome.
Passengers departing the boat were immediately offered cold iced tea and lemonade to beat the heat before boarding buses that took them to various Huntington attractions…