For Gettysburg 150 officials, this momentous week marks the culmination of years of planning, countless hours of work and an untold number of participants and volunteers lending a hand. And now that the week of weeks that some have been looking forward to for years has arrived, a question looms over the battlefield crowds and the festive 150th bunting:
Is it everything Gettysburg planners, volunteers and business people thought it would be?
"I have not heard anything about things not living up to expectations at this point," says Stacey Fox, vice president of sales and marketing with the Gettysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.
"Everything I've heard has been positive," she adds. "People are thrilled. It is more than they expected. It is better than they expected."
Indeed, Gettysburg the town seems to be bearing up well under what was thought to be a crush of tourists to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the battle that marked the turning point in the Civil War.
All around town and the nearby busy battlefield, the sound of fife and drums, along with the occasional musket or cannon fire, has become commonplace. Indeed, those in Civil War costume dress nearly out-number those in shorts and T-shirts.
But a car horn blown in anger on Lincoln Square? This type of bigger city noise remains a rare occurrence, even as the famous round-about in the center of town became clogged with cars and trucks over lunch. However, at least one horn did honk as traffic ground to a momentary halt. And it did, indeed, sound out of place amid this consecrated crossroads of history.
Gettysburg residents and business people credit the transportation plan designed to keep tourists out of their cars and inside various shuttle buses that lumber regularly from site to site. It seems to be working.
Indeed, metered parking spaces within a block of Lincoln Square were open for the taking. And at the various taverns and eateries around town, while busy, even bustling, there were no long lines snaking out any doors over the lunchtime rush.
Indeed, one couple who nuzzled up to the bar at The Pub on the Square commented that they thought it would be far busier and much harder to to get served.
"I thought there would be a line out the door for everything," the man said, after ordering an appetizer and a beer. "I'm a little surprised actually."
As president of Main Street Gettysburg, Deb Adamik keeps her finger on the pulse of commerce in Gettysburg. But she has been so busy with Gettysburg 150, she hasn't been able to check in with many of her member businesses.
Still, Adamik remains optimistic about how things are going for this once every half-century event.
"What surprised me so far is how well things are going," Adamik says, crediting all those years of planning, coordinating and cooperation among so many Gettysburg groups.
"There are so many people involved and so many pieces of the puzzle, it's just incredible. And they all had their piece to do. And so far, every single piece is working incredibly."
And while it is still early days yet, with July 4th and a climatic closing weekend to come, by all accounts Gettysburg 150 is running like a well-oiled Civil War tourism machine.
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