Popular color tour still has seats available

HARRISVILLE Tickets are still available for Alcona County’s Fall Colors Tour, after the popular event failed to sell out for the first time in its recent history.

Although people began lining up in front of the Harrisville branch of the Michigan State University Extension at 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, 15 tickets still were available by the end of the day, said Bonnie Wichtner-Zoia, who organizes the event.

“I don’t know why,” she said. “We’ve always had a waiting list.”

However, the first bus tour, which takes place Oct. 3, is sold out.

An advertisement in a publication stated the wrong date for the ticket sale, and has since been corrected, she said.

The tour is popular, because participants aren’t told the tour’s theme or where they are going until they get onto the bus, Wichtner-Zoia said. They are sworn to secrecy so the event remains a surprise for participants the second day.

“It allows residents to be a tourist in their own community,” she said. “It gives people a chance to see things they may not have realized were in this area to discover cool stuff right under their noses.”

The $20 ticket price also includes stops at a secret destination for lunch and two breaks. The bus departs from the Alcona High School parking lot at 8:30 a.m. each day and returns at 4:30 p.m., she said.

Mark Halsey of Harrisville and Jenny Pheister of Lincoln were the first two in line and arrived with their folding chairs while the stars were still out. Both have gone on the tours for the last seven years or so. One history-themed tour took them and the other riders to a cemetery, where a volunteer surprised everybody by floating around the grounds as a ghost.

On a dam tour, Pheister said she got the opportunity to walk through structures controlling the water’s flow. At another location in Curran, she and the others were greeted by Elvis, who had once performed there.

“The neat thing about the trip is you always get an insider’s view,” Halsey said.

The event started Oct. 21, 1976, as a fact-finding mission, where participants got a close-up view and an education on such issues as shore erosion or employers in the area, organizers said. However, since that time, it has evolved into a thematic tour, along with a look at the county’s fall colors.

Tickets must be purchased in person, and are limited to two, with payment accepted in cash or check. To make sure they are still available, call 724-6478.

Betsy Lehndorff can be reached via email at blehndorff@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5693. Follow Betsy on Twitter @bl_alpenanews.