London Bridge Graffiti Mystery Solved

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Thousands of visitors each year sign up for a walking tour of the London Bridge led by local historian Jan Kassies, director of visitor services of the Lake Havasu City Visitor Information Center. The most fascinating part of the tour besides seeing the bullet holes from the London Blitz of WWII, is the graffiti left by two previously unknown American soldiers. We’re happy to report the mystery of the graffiti has been solved.

On the Island-side of the bridge, near the abutment, two names are etched into the centuries-old stone:

Aug. 1942
Sgt. Fitzwater
Pfc. Smith

According to a story in Today’s News-Herald by Brandon Messick on Oct. 16, the letters were etched during World War II, when two American soldiers, of the 1st Infantry Division, were participating in field maneuvers with British commandos in Scotland. They visited the London Bridge while on weekend leave, and left their mark.

Merrill Fitzwater became a Montana State Game Warden after the war, until his retirement in 1978. He and his wife learned that the London Bridge had been bought and transported to Lake Havasu City, and Fitzwater stopped to see the bridge several times while visiting his daughter in Tucson. He’d left his name on another continent, only for it to follow him home 20 years after the war ended, reports Today’s News-Herald.

“His name on the stone is there, as if to say: ‘we were here,’” Kassies said.

Now in his 90s, Fitzwater is mostly deaf and resides in Montana, adds Kassies, a former educator from the Netherlands.

Take the London Bridge walking tour and be sure to ask Jan to show you where two members of the Greatest Generation left their marks.

Tours are scheduled 11 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from October-April. For more information, contact the Lake Havasu City Convention and Visitors Bureau at 928 453 3444.

Read the local newspaper story about the mystery here:
Etched in history: Montana man carved name near London Bridge abutment in 1942

Learn more about the London Bridge at golakehavasu.com

Arctic Canadian Pops the Question While Thawing Out on the London Bridge

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It’s a long way from Baker Lake in the Canadian territory of Nunavut to Lake Havasu City. In fact, 2,200 miles and four separate airplane stops. The reason Canadian William Bozman chose to travel so far to propose marriage may surprise you.

William, 35, and his girlfriend Beth Cowie, 30, of Baker Lake, live in one of the most remote Inuit communities in Northern Canada, a mining town with a population of just about 1,900. Even most Canadians haven’t heard of it. While Baker Lake doesn’t receive much snow by Arctic standards, only about 50 inches a year, the average temperature in November alone is a frigid minus 10 degree F., the recommended setting for most household freezers.

Beth is a registered nurse at a local clinic; William is a personal investor and day trader. One day while searching the web for their ideal future home, after entering “warm temperatures + lake + sunny + friendly people,” the results pointed to Lake Havasu City.

It was minus 4 degrees F. at home, 99 degrees F. in Lake Havasu, when totally on a whim, they flew four stops to Las Vegas, rented a car, and chilled out during a typical Lake Havasu vacation. They rented a boat and cruised to Topock Gorge, hung out at a beach on the Bridgewater Channel, went to fun restaurants, visited SARA Park, and hung out at a pool.

With a wedding scheduled for September 2018, both are planning for the day they will be leaving Baker Lake for a milder climate. Much milder.

By the way, Beth said “yes” when William sprang forth with a shiny bauble for her ring finger. “I was totally surprised when he popped the question. Everybody knew in advance and managed to keep it a surprise. I was very pleased.”

William chose the bridge because they’re both of British ancestry and wanted to make it a memorable occasion.

“Oh my gosh, it was so hard going back,” Beth tells us when the time came to return north. “The people we met were very, very nice. We didn’t feel like outsiders at all.”

We suspect the city will give them a warm welcome when they return in April to check out the local real estate market and make plans to possibly make the city their new home.

Come Drool at the Sand-Water-RV Expo, Nov. 19-20, 2016

Sand-Water-RV Expo

Visitors from through the Southland and the rest of North America will be coming to drool at the latest watercraft and off-road vehicles on display at the 5th Annual Sand-Water-RV Expo on Nov. 19-20.

The 2016 Sand-Water-RV Expo is an annual mecca for outdoor enthusiasts of off-roading, RVing and boating. Browse, compare and shop for the latest in off-road vehicles, trucks, sand rails (a lightweight off-road motor vehicle specifically built for traveling in sandy terrain), ATV’s, UTV’s, 4×4’s, buggies, golf carts, motorcycles, electric vehicles, RV’s, toy haulers, travel trailers, power boats, pontoons, personal watercraft, kayaks, paddleboards, and all related accessory products and services. Whew!

The fact that you can fish off many of these watercraft is, of course, an added bonus.

The Expo takes place at Havasu State Park, Lot 4 (Windsor 4). Admission: $3 adults; Kids 6 and under are free.

For more information visit golakehavasu.com

History? Yeah, We Got That

London Bridge Construction

Fifty years, give or take, is not very long considering New York, Philadelphia or Boston, but it is long enough for Lake Havasu to receive some loving from The History Channel. History, the American basic cable and satellite television channel that is owned by A&E Networks, recently focused on how the London Bridge ended up in Arizona. In a story posted by Evan Andrews on Oct. 7, the reporter explains that in 1968 industrialist Robert McCulloch was desperate for a way to draw tourists to the fledgling resort town, and he found it half a world away in England, which had placed its iconic London Bridge on the auction block.

“In one of the most harebrained marketing schemes in history, McCulloch bought the 19th century monument, shipped it across the ocean and reassembled it piece-by-piece in the desert,” Andrews writes.

The rest is, well, history.

In April 1968, for a final price of $2,460,000, Robert McCulloch became the proud owner of the world’s largest antique. The bridge was disassembled, packed away in crates and shipped to Long Beach, Calif., via the Panama Canal. From there, a small army of trucks carried it across the desert to its new home at Lake Havasu.

Andrews reveals the little-known fact that McCulloch dedicated the bridge in a ceremony that included skydivers, fireworks, marching bands, hot air balloons and a dinner banquet featuring lobster and roast beef – the same meal that had been served to King William IV during the bridge’s original unveiling in 1831.

There was a rumor – since discredited – that the Americans had been duped into thinking they were buying the more iconic Tower Bridge. But McCulloch was too smart for that.

Read the entire story here: How London Bridge Ended Up In Arizona

Lake Havasu Concert Series Features Range of Musical Expression

The Kat Trio

The Kat Trio

You may not know what a theramin is, but it’s the only musical instrument you play without touching and has been a staple of many of the horror films we’ve all grown up with. The theramin, marimba, kalimba, and flute are all coming to Lake Havasu along with a range of performers in early 2017.

Thanks to the Lake Havasu Concert Association, now in its 44th year, visitors and locals alike can enjoy professional concerts of increasingly high quality. Performances include singing trio “Tenore” (Jan. 27), classical musicians “The Kat Trio” (Feb. 17), classical/jazz group “Kubecca” (Mar. 15), and the “Equinox Little Big Band” that will close the season on March 29.

Kubecca incorporates the aforementioned theramin in a diverse program featuring country, jazz and showtunes.

“Some very generous donors have allowed us to keep our prices down,” Concert Association President Bob Ketner tells Today’s News Herald, “We can offer this quality of entertainment at a reasonable price. Once you see it, there’s nothing better in this town.”

Season tickets are being sold at $70, and single tickets will cost $25. The performances are at Lake Havasu High School and start at 7:30 p.m. Students with a valid school ID will be allowed free admission. For more information about upcoming performances and ticket prices, visit www.lhcca.com.

Ten Things You Didn’t Know You Could do at the Visitor Information Center

Lake Havasu City Visitor Information Center

Consider the Convention and Visitor Bureau’s Visitor Information Center your home away from home. One hundred thousand visitors make this their first stop each year. You’d be surprised what you can do there. The Visitor Information Center at 422 English Village, conveniently located off London Bridge Road near the London Bridge, is the place for up-to-date information on special events, special promotions, and, well, all the special activities that make our city so (dare we say it?) special.

Why is this location in a former theater such an integral part of any Lake Havasu City visit? It’s more than the free parking and friendly staff. Consider eight things you didn’t know you could do there:

1. Buy a piece of the London Bridge, in a bottle no less. Don’t worry, we’re not out there chipping samples. Seems we had some leftovers from bridge construction in the early 1970s. Buy all you want, we have plenty.

2. Purchase a collectible London Bridge Rotary Club Coin. To honor the reconstruction of the London Bridge in Lake Havasu and raise funds for charities, the London Bridge Rotary Club sponsored the release of the first “Havasu Dollar” in October 1971. A new London Bridge Rotary Coin has been released every October since that time. You can buy one, buy two, or a complete set right here in river city.

3. Apply for a fishing license. We can’t promise you’ll land a record breaking redear, but at least you won’t have the law chasing after you.

4. Pose on a personal watercraft. We dragged one inside. You can pose on it with a photo of the lake in the background. Hokey, we know, but hey, you’re on vacation.

5. Visit our in-house Bill Spresser Art Gallery and consider supporting local artists by purchasing one-of-a-kind artwork in a variety of mediums.

6. Watch a movie about the history of the London Bridge.

7. Study the architectural drawings used to re-assemble the bridge just outside the door. Each and every stone was numbered, like a huuuuge jigsaw puzzle.

8. Book a 90-min. walking tour that delves into the history of our iconic bridge and see the little-known WWII graffiti that has intrigued visitors ever since the bridge was re-assembled along our shores almost 50 years ago. Wireless headsets make it easy to hear the guide’s live commentary.

9. Buy as many Lake Havasu-printed t-shirts as you want. We can always print more.

10. Last but not least, take a hit off our free WiFi. Spend a few hours, spend the day for all we care. We have plenty of space for you to get your digital fix.

Learn more about what the Visitor Information Center can do for you at golakehavasu.com

Beer Drinkers Agree: Lake Havasu has a Bright Future

can of Bright Future beer

Beer drinkers everywhere in the city agree that Lake Havasu has a bright future. It’s particularly obvious in local stores and bars where the city’s rising stars under age 40 are being honored with a new locally-brewed beer. Imagine the surprise of 30 businesspeople under the age of 40 when they were recently recognized at College Street Brewery for their efforts in improving and shaping the Havasu community.

Expecting a (yawn) wall plaque or perhaps a Lucite desk clock, they received instead a case of locally brewed beer with their names on each can. But not just any beer. This was a brew called Bright Future Mandarin Pale Ale developed in a collaborative effort by all four local breweries: Barley Bros, College Street, Mudshark, and Outlaw.

The America’s Best Communities (ABC) Vision 20/20 Team “30 Under 40” event, which followed publication of a special Today’s News-Herald supplement honoring the city’s top young business leaders, was part of an effort to highlight the young leadership, skills and talent that already exists in Havasu.

The breweries crafted the beer while the Vision 20/20 committee customized the label and came up with the Bright Future name. Aymie Spitzer, another example of young local talent, created the graphics for the can and the corresponding website.

“One of the basic goals of our America’s Best Communities project is to help slow the aging of the community and recognize those younger professionals who represent the future growth of Lake Havasu,” said James Gray, director of the Lake Havasu City Partnership for Economic Development.

“Honoring Lake Havasu’s next generation of leaders could take us one step closer toward reversing a trend of ‘demographic starvation’ in Havasu – the aging and retirement of the present workforce, many who are baby boomers and older, without a younger workforce to replace it,” Gray continues, “We wanted a fun, unique way to highlight the millennials in our city. Since the city already has a thriving microbrewery scene, we thought a special brew could help us recognize our future business leaders in a way that expresses our appreciation for their talent.”

Gray is spearheading Lake Havasu’s entry in the America’s Best Communities competition. The city, which has already received $100,000, is one of eight finalists vying for a $3.5 million top prize that will go towards improving the quality of life here. The top three winning cities will be announced in April 2017. “Creating Bright Future Ale was a fun way to think outside the box, or in this instance, the case, and change the narrative of an aging workforce by emphasizing the city’s young talent pool,” Gray said.

If you were wondering, Bright Future is a brisk and bright pale ale that utilizes the unique citrus flavor and aroma of the Bavaria Mandarina hop variety. The pale ale was dry hopped with 30 lbs. of Bavaria Mandarina to achieve the subtle hint of mandarin orange and citrus notes. The beer finishes at a 5.7% alcohol by volume (AVB), with a mild bitterness and bold aroma.

Bright Future has a limited run. When it sells out you’ll have to wait until a new crop of leaders are selected for the 2017 awards. Until then, raise a glass and toast to our future.

Watch the video and see the list of award winners here:
Bright Future Mandarin Pale Ale

Learn about the local breweries and distilleries at golakehavasu.com

Mermaids Sighted in Lake Havasu

Mermaids in Lake Havasu

Loch Ness has its monster. Lake Champlain has Champ, and there are Yeti supposedly stalking the Himalayan region of Nepal, Bhutan and Tibet. Not to be outdone, Lake Havasu has its mermaids, which are a whole lot friendlier than those piranhas Hollywood believes were chomping away in the lake.

Mermaids are one of mythology’s most popular topics – a legendary aquatic creature with the head and upper body of a female human and the tail of a fish. Mermaids appear in the folklore of many cultures worldwide, including the Near East, Europe, Africa and Asia, not to mention a Disney cartoon or two.
Lake Havasu’s very own mermaids are Kim Weimer and Brittney Manson. According to RiverScene magazine, Weimer said the reason she started wearing her mermaid swimsuit was to honor her mom.

“I have always loved mermaids. To me, they are mysterious and free.”

She said as a child the Disney movie The Little Mermaid was her favorite.

Not able to grow her own tail, she purchased an outfit online and the rest is, well, mermaid history. “Seeing little kids’ faces light up with glee when they see me swimming is one of the best feelings I’ve experienced in the world.”

Watch for a mermaid to return during the 2nd annual London Bridge Renaissance Faire on January 6-8, 2017. Moon Mermaid, born of the moon and the sea in the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, will be there granting full moon wishes, protecting pirate ships from rough weather, and visiting with children.

She’ll be joined by stage and street performers in period costumes who will bring medieval history to life in a fun and dramatic way.
Add in a mermaid or two and it’ll surely be an unforgettable experience.

Learn about the mermaids in RiverScene Magazine: River Scene Magazine

Learn more about the 2nd annual London Bridge Renaissance Faire at golakehavasu.com

A Spring Break Worth Writing Home About

Lake Havasu Spring Break

There’s a sea change underway in regards to how the CVB is approaching spring break this season. The plans called for a calmer, more involved program, with less emphasis on partying the night away, and more on experiences throughout the city. It will be the kind of spring break worth writing home about.

Studies indicate millennials are prioritizing their cars and homes less and less, and assigning greater importance to personal experiences — and showing off pictures of them. A recent Harris Poll found that factors such as a need for recognition (for example, how many likes someone gets on their Instagram post), and a “fear of missing out” help drive millennials’ cravings for experiences.

“We’re rethinking spring break to promote the literally dozens of available outdoor activities and experiences our college-age guests can enjoy here,” said Chip Shilosky, president/CEO of the Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Starting this month, the CVB will be spending $17,000 for digital advertising on Facebook and Instagram, and a website landing page that promotes a wide variety of hotels, restaurants and rental services, especially those that cater to Havasu’s spring break visitors. The mostly college-age students will be spread throughout the city, not just concentrated on a few hotels, as in past years.

The new website currently under development, www.havasuspringbreak.com, will encourage visitors to book hotel accommodations directly and will serve as a clearinghouse of information on special events planned during their stay.

“We hope to expand spring break’s positive economic impact and create more opportunities for visitors to share on social media, thus expanding the message that Lake Havasu City is more than just a fun place to visit, but it could be a future full-time or vacation home once they graduate,” Shilosky said. “We hope to eventually turn visitors into residents.”

“It will be a lot less raucous and more cerebral, and certainly more upscale than in past years.”

Learn what makes Lake Havasu City so attractive as a spring break destination at golakehavasu.com

An Open Letter from Your Tourism President

To each and every Resident of Lake Havasu City,

I have finally settled into my position as President/CEO for the CVB and wanted to take a moment to express what an exciting opportunity this is for me, ranging from marketing Lake Havasu City as a major destination, to promotion of local events that draw thousands.

This transition for me from the public safety environment to tourism has been exciting and would not have been possible without the support of the excellent staff here at the Bureau and a Board of Directors committed to making Lake Havasu City America’s Best Community.

As I roll up my sleeves, it is my commitment to look outside the box, so to speak, and explore new marketing strategies that will ultimately generate increased visitation to our community.

To achieve our goals will require successful partnerships with all our stakeholders – chamber members, Partnership for Economic Development, the Lake Havasu Hospitality Association, homebuilders, civic groups, city leaders, non-profits, and others. This is our city. Working together in a spirit of mutual cooperation will benefit us all.

Special events bring an excitement to the city and makes this a more enjoyable place to live, not to mention the positive economic impact of thousands of visitors staying in our hotels, eating in our restaurants, and otherwise contributing to the tax base. Lake Havasu City’s beautiful mountains, weather and lake are a great marketing tool for recruiting new events – we’re an attractive venue for event organizers representing a wide variety of activities.
First on the agenda is to look at events appropriate for hotter climates and the cooler winters, events that also enhance the quality of life within the community, both young and old.

Not all events need to be held outside, of course. Considering the city’s inventory of indoor venues, we’re looking to fill them up as well.
A great portion of our population has moved to Havasu from somewhere else so maybe you have an idea to bring your favorite event here. Just let us know and we’ll reach out to organizers to explain the wide variety of facilities and services we can offer.

There is no reason this town shouldn’t be busy every weekend. Events are a win/win for everyone.

It is my pleasure to serve as your President. Please stop by the office at 344 London Bridge Rd., visit our website at golakehavasu.com, or call (928) 453-3444. Tell us your ideas or just come by to say hello. We want to hear from you.

Sincerely,
Chip Shilosky
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