Travel & Tourism
5 Reasons Why It’s Best to Keep Your Travels within U.S. Borders PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Ginny Grimsley   
Monday, 12 August 2013 08:15
Closed Embassies Highlight the Safer, More Care Free
Travel Here at Home, Says Popular Travel Blogger

Citizens of the United States: exercise vigilance if you are out of the country – that’s the message from the Obama administration following the recent closings of nearly two dozen U.S. embassies on three continents. But that’s no reason to curtail your travel plans. Seeing America, especially with children in tow like blogger and domestic travel expert Alisa Abecassis, can give you a world of excitement.

“The world is an amazing place, but it’s not always a friendly one” says Abecassis who provides U.S. family travel resources at “There is so much to explore right here at home, and you don’t have to worry about terrorist attacks, political unrest, or losing your passport!

“Having traveled this country with my three children for the last 10 years in 14 trips covering 42 states on our way to 50, I can give you a million reasons why this is the best place to discover and explore. But I’ll start with just five.”

Abecassis discusses why American families are better off vacationing right here in the US of A:

? Safety: At the risk of sounding paranoid: Travel to Mexico and you run the risk of being kidnapped and held for ransom by a drug cartel. Travel to China and you run the risk of getting severe food poisoning. “And Europe? – Too many terrorist threats for my taste – train bombings in Spain, riots in France and the list goes on,” Abecassis says. “I am all about seeing the world and exploring new frontiers, but right now, too many parts of the world are just not safe if you are traveling with an American passport.”

? Money: Sure, places like Australia and New Zealand may be safer than others, but have you checked the prices? It’s ridiculously expensive! Despite the long and expensive airplane ride, Aussies come to the states in high numbers, in part, because it’s so much cheaper to vacation here. Why not feed your local or state economy? Have a taste for something different? – Travel to Honolulu, Anchorage, or the Florida Keys. When you stay within U.S. borders, you are contributing to the U.S. economy – and getting more bang for your buck.

? History: Consider all the turmoil happening around the globe and contrast it with the peace, stability, wealth and tolerance of America. We are so fortunate to enjoy freedom of speech, the liberation of women, religious tolerance and civil rights for all. Sadly, too many citizens don’t fully appreciate the historical forces that gave us these privileges because they just don’t know them. Brush up on your history, with a trip to Philadelphia, Gettysburg or Washington, D.C.

? Convenience: Let’s face it – Americans like convenience. Global travel not only poses lots of logistical challenges (visas, customs, etc) which can easily become a nightmare, but also some other challenges like currency changes and language barriers just to name a few. On the other hand, you can take a long weekend or an extended vacation and travel anywhere in the states without having to contend with language or major cultural differences.

? Global Influences Here at Home: If you still have a hankering for something with a global feel, you can find those influences all across the USA. We are a country of immigrants, right? It’s not just our history, but also our foods, architecture, accents, traditions … you name it. You can learn about Latin America in Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California. You can learn about Scandinavia in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and about Europe in New York, Illinois and Louisiana, just to name a few. You won’t need your passport or the obligatory hassle from customs – just an open mind about your own country.

About Alisa Abecassis

Alisa Abecassis is the proud mother of three children – Lilia, 17; Isaac, 15; and Joel, 14. After her marriage ended, she decided it was time to strengthen her family’s bonds and personal history by traveling and gaining a better appreciation all 50 United States. Abecassis is a blogger and has a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA.. Contact her on Twitter, @ExploreAll50 or email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Galena's 35th annual Halloween Parade & Festival plans underway PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Celestino Ruffini   
Monday, 12 August 2013 07:53

October 26 event features one of the largest nighttime parades in the Midwest

GALENA, Ill. – Ghosts and goblins of all ages will converge on Galena, Illinois for the 35th annual Halloween Parade & Festival. The Galena Area Chamber of Commerce serves as the host of this one-day event in downtown Galena on Saturday, October 26, with festivities taking place from 2:00 - 8:30 p.m.

The nearly two-hour long Halloween parade literally lights up Galena’s historic Main Street. The popular event features spectacular floats, local marching bands, costumed participants and plenty of sweet treats. Making a return to this year’s parade will be several hot air balloons that will light up the night sky, as well as provide a fleeting moment of warmth, as they make their way through the parade. The parade begins promptly at 6:30 p.m. near the intersection of Green and Main Streets and continues north until reaching the intersection of Franklin and Main Streets.

Again this year, the Halloween Festival will be taking place from 2:00 - 8:30 p.m. at Washington and Perry Streets. Swing by the festival for food and entertainment while you wait for the parade to get started. Local chamber members will be offering several tasty treats and goodies for visitors to enjoy.

To accommodate the high volume of parade goers, there will be three shuttle buses operating between 4:00 - 9:00 p.m., excluding parade times between 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Shuttle parking and pickup, all in Galena, will take place at Walmart (10000 Bartell Blvd.), Signcraft (100 A.J. Harle Dr.), Recreation Park (1801 Field St.) and at the Old Train Depot (99 Bouthillier St.) parking lots.

For further event information or to register an entry into the parade, visit, e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 815.777.9050. Additional area offerings and visitor information may be found at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau at or by calling 877.464.2536. While in town, visit the CVB’s Old Train Depot Visitor Information Center at 101 Bouthillier St. (corner of Park Avenue) for on-site assistance and countywide information.

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Governor Quinn Announces Next Step in Procuring High-Speed Locomotives PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Grant Klinzman   
Friday, 09 August 2013 13:43

Next-Generation Passenger Locomotives will be Built to Service Routes that are Already Experiencing a Surge in Ridership

SPRINGFIELD – Governor Pat Quinn today announced that Illinois has taken the next step to procure approximately 35 high-performance diesel-electric locomotives for several Midwestern and West Coast states, to be funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) is leading the multi-state locomotive procurement, with a notice of award expected by early 2014. Meanwhile, passenger rail ridership in Illinois has surged dramatically in the past several years, supporting Governor Quinn’s agenda to increase passenger traffic while the nation’s high speed rail system is developed.

“These new locomotives will put the ‘speed’ in high speed rail, and Illinois is ideally situated at the forefront of the national push for high speed rail service,” Governor Quinn said. “We are proud to lead the multi-state procurement effort for these state-of-the-art machines and look forward to the day when they will be pulling passenger trains through Illinois.”

“When we make smart investments in rail, we are investing in America,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.  “Our Buy America provisions ensure that the major components of these locomotives will be built with American hands and with American-produced steel, iron, and manufactured goods.”

“We are thrilled to have reached this very important juncture in this process,” said Transportation Secretary Ann L. Schneider.  “We are excited to have secured Illinois’ role as a national leader in high-speed rail and we look forward to working with our partners to help move this multi-state procurement forward.”

Today IDOT issued a Request for Proposals to procure approximately 35 high-speed locomotives for Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Iowa, Washington and California. In March the Federal Railroad Administration recommended that Illinois lead this multi-state procurement of next-generation locomotives, part of the $808 million the FRA has allocated to manufacture the next generation of passenger rail equipment which also includes 130 bi-level rail cars.

Today’s rail procurement news comes as passenger rail ridership in Illinois is experiencing a tremendous upswing. Ridership on key Amtrak routes in the state has surged over the last seven years. Passenger volume on the Chicago to St. Louis route is up 225 percent; Chicago to Carbondale is up 154 percent; Chicago to Quincy is up 95 percent; and Chicago to Milwaukee is up 42 percent.

“Several years ago, with ridership on passenger trains continuing to climb in the U.S., I saw an opportunity to bring the rail car manufacturing industry back to the U.S. and back to Illinois,” U.S. Senator Richard J. Durbin said. “I spearheaded an effort in Congress to repair Amtrak’s aging fleet of passenger cars, bring rehabilitated cars to Illinois and revive the train car industry in the United States. While a century ago the domestic railcar giant Pullman Company provided a strong manufacturing base in Illinois, today Illinois is home to the nation’s largest rail supply industry. I applaud FRA’s decision to name IDOT as the lead in the multi-state locomotive procurement process and to bring good paying jobs to the United States while advancing cleaner, cheaper, and greener transportation options.”

IDOT was involved last year in a multi-state procurement of the 130 next-generation bi-level rail cars for high-speed service, an effort led by California.  That procurement resulted in the selection of Sumitomo/Nippon-Sharyo, which is building the rail cars from its plant in Rochelle, Illinois, including the 88 cars to be used on Midwest high-speed corridors.  The Rochelle plant opened in 2012 and has created more than 250 jobs in Illinois.

Illinois debuted 110-mph service on a segment of the Chicago-St. Louis corridor from Dwight to Pontiac in November 2012 and will expand 110-mph service to 75 percent of the route by 2015.  The FRA in December provided a Record of Decision on the entire Chicago-St. Louis corridor, allowing Illinois to begin in-depth corridor segment studies and specific project studies to move toward high-speed service on the other 25 percent of the corridor as soon as possible, including segments from Joliet to Chicago and from Alton to St. Louis.  The segment from Dwight to Joliet is under development and is expected to offer 110-mph service in 2017.

Illinois also is working closely with the state of Michigan to establish 110-mph service from Chicago to Detroit as the next Midwest segment targeted to run at higher speeds.

Documents for those interested in submitting proposals for the high-speed locomotive procurement may be found at A vendor conference will take place on August 22, with proposals due in October and a notice of award by early 2014.

FRA’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program and its Buy America plan implement America’s “Vision for High-Speed Rail in America,” which includes a goal to bolster American passenger rail expertise and resources.


7th annual Galena Oktoberfest to be held on October 5th PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Celestino Ruffini   
Tuesday, 06 August 2013 13:46

Family fun, polka music, wiener dog racing, and German-style food headline this event

GALENA, Ill. – Get your polka dancing shoes on and your wiener dog in tip-top racing shape for the 7th annual Galena Oktoberfest taking place on October 5. This event takes place at Depot Park, 99 Bouthillier St., just east of the Galena River near the intersection of U.S. Highway 20 and Park Avenue; from noon to 10 p.m. Galena Oktoberfest is hosted by the Galena Lions Club and all of the proceeds are donated to help individuals with sight and sound needs, as well as to support community projects.

People of all ages enjoy Galena Oktoberfest, as it features non-stop live music by three bands,  polka dancing and lessons, wiener dog races and parade, a beer stein endurance contest, a bean bag tournament, bounce houses and activities for the kids, and of course plenty of German-style food, soda, and beer. The day begins at noon with a cannon blast and the ceremonial tapping of the keg, followed by the popular wiener dog races. Online pre-registration is encouraged for both the wiener dog races and the bean bag tournament.

The big white tent provides plenty of seating and shade for eating and dancing. Take a spin on the dance floor and let Jennifer Mulcahey, of Ballroom by Jennifer, teach you how to polka. Back-to-back bands include two polka bands, the Jim Busta Band from Spring Grove, Minn. and The Goodtime Dutchmen from Kewaskum, Wisc., and local, up-beat favorite The Lonely Goats from Dubuque, Iowa.

Gate tickets to Galena Oktoberfest are $5 for adults and teens, children 12 and under are admitted free. Parking is free near the festival site. Festival goers can also take a ride on the free trolley that will be shuttling visitors from the Galena’s historic Main Street to the festival.

For more information about Galena Oktoberfest and the Galena Lions Club, go to or call 815.331.0180. Visit Galena Oktoberfest on Facebook for updates and to find out ‘Where in the World is Otto?’ Additional area offerings and visitor information may be found at the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau at or by calling 877.464.2536. While in town, visit the CVB’s Old Train Depot Visitor Information Center at 101 Bouthillier St. for on-site assistance and countywide information.

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12th Annual International Route 66 Mother Road Festival & Car Show Celebrates the Golden Age of Route 66 in Downtown Springfield, Illinois with over 1,000 cool cars, 80,000 spectators, live music, food & fun PDF Print E-mail
News Releases - Travel & Tourism
Written by Travel and Leisure News   
Monday, 05 August 2013 14:42

Springfield, Illinois - A shiny car with lots of power hitting the open road is part of the American fabric. That spirit will be celebrated in grand style again on September 27, 28 & 29, 2013, in downtown Springfield, Illinois, along Route 66 as the International Route 66 Mother Road Festival returns to celebrate its 12th annual event. The festival draws over 1,000 cars and as many as 80,000 spectators. Admission is free to all spectators. Participants may register for $40 plus a $3.50 handling fee at or by phone at 866-783-6645. Registration includes weekend admission for the vehicle.

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