‘Gnome’ acts as ambassador for city

Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 12, 2005

VIDALIA &045; When Roddy and Janis Coker of Sharpsburg, Ga., came to Vidalia in their RV, a basket full of gifts was the last thing they expected &045; but it’s what they got.

In honor of National Tourism Week, tourism officials in both Natchez and Vidalia gave baskets full of vouchers for free hotel rooms and a variety of other treats donated by local businesses.

In the case of the Louisiana Welcome Center in Vidalia, a gnome (think the &uot;Travelocity&uot; TV commercial) was given away each day to a visitor at a local tourism-related business &045; in Wednesday’s case, the Cokers at Riverview RV Park, where they stayed for five days on their cross-country trip to Colorado.

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The gnome could be traded for a gift basket at the Louisiana Welcome Center on Carter Street.

But the gift basket was just the latest thing the Cokers had to rave about on their trip to the Miss-Lou.

The couple also had plenty of nice things to say about everything from the riverfront view (&uot;just gorgeous,&uot; said Janis) to the courteous and enthusiastic service of Zelma Murray and crew at the Welcome Center, whom Roddy said even offered to look up the address of a store they needed to visit at their next stop, Shreveport.

They had visited such sites as the antebellum houses of Natchez and were headed to Ferriday’s Delta Music Museum later Wednesday.

The two said they definitely plan to return to Vidalia and its Riverview RV Park &045; and next time, Roddy said, &uot;we plan to bring our friends.&uot;

In Natchez, Wolfgang and Beirgit Schuldt were &uot;arrested&uot; at Natchez Under-the-Hill Wednesday by Sgt. Craig Godbold of the Natchez Police Department. The received a gift basket in honor of Tourism Appreciation Day.

The Schuldts, of Bad Schwartau, Germany, were visiting Natchez for the second time.

&uot;We are having a wonderful time touring the city and seeing all of the beautiful homes,&uot; Wolfgang said. &uot;Tomorrow is my birthday &045; one birthday I will never forget.&uot;