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Tuesday, May 27th, was an eventful day for the Lamar County Chamber of Commerce and Paris Visitors & Convention Council. Attendees of last month’s “Live at Five” event (which lasted from 5-6:30 p.m.) were in for a special treat as soon as they arrived at the Love Civic Center. Not only did they have the opportunity to go on a virtual tour of the Chamber’s updated website, but they also received a first look at the new “Trolley de Paris.”
Whether you’ve lived here for six months or sixty years; whether you’re just visiting family or passing through, you will always be able to find something to see and do in Paris. With so many historical sites, beautiful houses, elegant churches to see and festivals to attend, it only seems natural that residents and visitors alike have every opportunity to take advantage of all the city has to offer. This is where the trolley comes in.
“We had been wanting a trolley, because in our pictures that showed Paris before the fire of 1916, there’s a trolley and so we said, ‘You know, we have to have this trolley’ and it’s been great,” said Chamber of Commerce Tourism Director Becky Semple. “Great taking people around and people in town that live here love getting on it and going.”
Guided trolley tours are relatively new in Paris, with the first one occurring in 2011. The trolley proved to be an instant success and has provided an average of approximately 30 tours a year, according to Semple.
While the previous 1984 model was much loved, certain upgrades were deemed necessary in order to provide the most comfortable experience for all involved. Eventually, a new trolley proved to be the best, most practical option.
“It was not air-conditioned, it was not handicap accessible. Of course it wasn’t heated, either,” Semple said. “It was fine, but this came up and it was just a great trade. Randy Nations of the Civic Center did all this finding and locating and they took our trolley and got this one with a little bit more for them.”
This newer 2001 model, transferred from Florida, promises to provide a much smoother, quieter ride, and guides will no longer be required to use microphones to be heard by everyone on board. Guests with disabilities can now access the trolley via an outward-folding lift; inside, two benches fold up to provide space for wheelchairs, which will be secured in place with safety belts. While its seating capacity is the same as its predecessor (126), it is much roomier, according to Semple.
“It’s comfortable, the seats are comfortable,” she said. “The other one, some of the seats were real close…there were fixtures there in your way…and your knees touched the fixtures, and here it doesn’t do that, so it’s more comfortable.”
So, what does a tour on the “Trolley de Paris” entail? At any given time, one of five drivers and one of five guides will be on board the trolley. Passengers are able to hop aboard and take a guided tour of several Paris landmarks, including the Sam Bell Maxey House and Evergreen Cemetery.
“They want to see the fountain, the downtown courthouse,” Semple said. “Sometimes they want to see Campbell Soup and Kimberly Clark. They want to see Paris Junior College, where Davy Crockett took a rest before going to the Alamo; it’s right there by Paris Junior College. The Eiffel Tower’s the most requested and the cemetery.”
“We have like an hour and fifteen minute historic tour to go around and see the history of Paris,” Semple added. “The founding and how it’s laid out and just tell all the stories about how Paris came about.”
The trolley is also available for more personal uses, but does have to be reserved in advance.
“It doesn’t run every day like a transportation vehicle,” Semple said. “It is merely for tourism and taking people around historic places and, you know, entertainment…things like that.”
Different uses vary from wedding transport to field trips, from parades, to Christmas light tours to parties-yes, you read that correctly. You can actually have a party on a trolley as it drives around town!
Preparation for the tours is worry-free, as the trolley will pick up passengers virtually anywhere in Lamar County, so long as the proper preparations are made. Rental rates start at $75 for one hour and $125 for two hours. To reserve the trolley today or for more information, contact Randy Nations at 903.739.9912.
By Courtney McNeal, eParisExtra