What would Katharine Lee Bates think?
The Wellesley College English professor spent the summer of 1893 in Colorado Springs teaching at Colorado College.
During that summer, she and some other teachers rode a wagon to the summit of Pikes Peak.
The trip inspired her to later write the words to “America the Beautful” and the poem was first published July 4, 1895, in a church magazine in Boston.
It was later set to music and became the unofficial national anthem. A bronze of Bates was commissioned and unveiled in 2002. It sits outside the Pioneers Museum, positioned so Bates appears to be gazing at the El Paso County Courthouse. Oops. Actually, she was facing Pikes Peak until the courthouse additional nearly blocked her view. But that’s another blog.
Local tourist official Terry Sullivan, right, worries what Bates might write today, if she were to witness the effects of budget cuts on city parks and institutions.
What would she think of unwatered grass in our parks? No trash cans? Pools and neighborhood community centers boarded up? Streets dark because the city turned off 10,000 streetlights.
Sullivan is president of Experience Colorado Springs, the area’s convention and visitors bureau. Tourism is his life.
Even worse, he worries what folks across America think after word of the crisis made national news last week.
It started with a story in the Denver Post and spread across the Internet, finding its way onto blogs and network television newscasts.
Read the entire Denver Post story.
The biggest blow, in Sullivan’s eyes, was , including a 28-second sound bite by ABC News anchorwoman Diane Sawyer on the evening news. Here’s a link to the ABC News report .
It really wasn’t a huge story for Sawyer and ABC.
Just a brief mention of the problems.
But it was enough to get the attention of folks like Sullivan, who knows just how important a tourist destination’s reputation is to its success or failure.
Some in Colorado Springs caution against overreacting to the bad-mouthing.
Mike Kazmierski, right, president of the Colorado Springs Reginal Economic Development Corp. counters that the harsh headlines are a sign of the times.
Hardly a city in the United States isn’t suffering in this historically bad economy, Kazmierski said.
And he is quick to point to three pages of accolades in 2009 from magazines on Web sites that praised the Pikes Peak region.
In each, Colorado Springs is rated one of the healthiest, happiest, smartest places to live and do business in America.
”Our problems are transient,” Kazmierski said. “The mountains, our quality of life, will be here forever.
“We’re all i na tough time. But we live here for a reason. It’s a wonderful community. We’ll get through this. We always have.”