Newport Tour Guides & Greeters News #60: Newport loses a hero, an icon, and a friend

Greta Zimmer Friedman being kissed by sailor George Mendonsa in Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic 1945 photograph

A personal note on the passing of a commercial fisherman and WWII hero

George Mendonsa, a Newport commercial fisherman and WWII Navy Veteran, passed away this past week, age 95. For decades he was a familiar figure around Lower Thames Street where he was part-owner of the Tallman & Mack Fish Company that operated huge fish traps on Narragansett Bay. He was also famous beyond the confines of Aquidneck Island because of an iconic photograph taken on VJ Day in New York’s Times Square by Life magazine photographer, Alfred Eisenstadt. Known as the “Kissing Sailor,” the photo captured Mendonsa kissing a nurse, an impromptu celebratory expression on the end of the long war.

I met George Mendonsa in the early 1980s at the docks of his fishing business on the East side of Newport Harbor. There, he and his brother Manny, mended nets, carefully loaded anchors and other gear for their fish traps and managed a small fleet of boats that harvested live fish from the bay. At the time I was writing for Shoreline Fishermen’s News and on several occasions had interviewed George. He was always generous with his time and patient with a young writer still learning about commercial fishing in Rhode Island. George also served on the Rhode Island Fisheries Council. At the Council’s monthly meetings in Wakefield, I had many opportunities to hear his calm and reasoned thinking about how to manage the fisheries to the betterment of all.  He was passionate about this industry. His family, and his father before him, worked in it their entire lives.

On numerous occasions, George, Manny, and I had coffee together at Gary’s Handy Lunch (462 Thames Street, Newport) just across the street from the Tallman & Mack docks. Several photos of George from his Navy days, including the famous “Kissing Sailor,” are proudly displayed on the wall of Gary’s.  When I first saw the photos, I didn’t realize they featured the man sitting next to me at the lunch counter. I was a bit surprised to say the least. In all the time we’d talked together, he’d never said a word about the famous photograph.

This past week, Newport lost someone truly special. George Mendonsa was a WWII Navy veteran who had served with honor as a Quartermaster First Class aboard the USS The Sullivans in the Pacific. He was a husband, father, fisherman, and successful business owner. His image in a national magazine made history but it didn’t change him. To the end, he was gentle, patient, humble, and thankful for all he had seen, survived, and experienced.  To so many of us, he was a hero, an icon, and a friend.

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NOTABLE THIS WEEK

Rhode Island’s Official Flagship, the SSV Admiral Hazard Perry, will return to its berth at Fort Adams after spending the winter laid up in a shipyard at Quonset Point. The non-profit corporation that operates the 200-foot, three-mast sailing vessel, announced it will spend the next year in Rhode Island and offer year-round programming to residents and visitors.

The Elms re-opened last Friday, February 15th at 10:00 am for mansion and Servant Life Tours. Now is the time to take in this fantastic guide-led tour. Additional information and updates at: newportmansions.org

Walking Tours led by guides from the Newport Historical Society resumed last Saturday, February 16th with the popular “Road to Independence” tour. If you’ve never taken one of these great tours, get your walking shoes on and jog over to the Newport Historical Society. Now! Info and reservations at: newporthistorytours.org  

TOUR GUIDES TIP OF THE WEEK: SMILE MORE

You could be the one to make your guest’s day something special simply by smiling more.

This tip came to us from a longtime friend of this columnist who is a master of customer service. She told us that everyone in the tour and hospitality business should challenge themselves to smile more. Besides the obvious importance of meeting and greeting each of our visitors and guests with a warm friendly smile, smiling has more power than we have ever thought about. She recently explained it to me.

“A smile is not simply a smile. Take the letters of the word and you can spell out the true meaning and power a smile produces. A SMILE can be defined as a Simple Mind-touching Interactive Long-lasting Effect which wins the heart!”

Re-read the previous sentence. This is a very positive thought and a great new way to think about what we are doing when we smile. We are making an impression, sharing, and creating a long-lasting effect with the person in front of us, arriving at our mansion, historic site, or guided tour.

Make somebody’s day, even their life, better.  You can when you SMILE.

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NOTABLE & QUOTABLE

SECRET OF SUCCESS IN BUSINESS

Secret?

There is no secret about it.

All you have to do

is to attend to your business,

and go ahead.

-Cornelius “The Commodore” Vanderbilt (1794-1877)

From a conversation, 1853.

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CONTINUING PROGRAMS & EXHIBITS

NOW THROUGH THE END OF FEBRUARY · THE LEWIS/CADORETTE FAMILY · DOCUMENTING A FAMILY HISTORY

Manuel Dutra Lewis (1873-1968) and his wife Clara Silveira Furtado (1886-1923) were born in Fayal, the Azores.  They met in Jamestown and were married here in 1906.  They had two daughters.  Mary (1907-1970) married George H. Cadorette at St. Mark Church on July 2, 1938.  Her sister Clara (1908-1997) taught in the Jamestown School from the mid-1930s until her retirement at the end of the 1954-55 school year.  The exhibit has pictures and documents tracing the family’s history in Jamestown.  Exhibit mounted at the Jamestown Philomenian Library (26 North Road, Jamestown). Info: Jamestown Historical Society, 401/423-7202; jamestownhistoricalsociety.org

NOW THROUGH MARCH 1, 2019 – BILL CUNNINGHAM: FACADES – ROSECLIFF

BILL CUNNINGHAM: FACADES, the current exbibit at Rosecliff, is closing soon, March 1st.  Celebrating the creative intersection of fashion and architecture through the lens of a visionary photographer, this exhibition explores Cunningham’s self-created project, begun in 1969, documenting the architectural riches and fashion history of New York City.  Here he captures Manhattan’s Egyptian temples and Russian cathedrals, Beaux-Arts mansions, Gothic Revival churches, art deco office buildings, and high Victorian department stores. Bill Cunningham found antique clothes in New York’s thrift shops, street fairs and auctions, and dressed Editta Sherman, “the Duchess of Carnegie Hall,” in his fashion finds, posing her in front of a wide variety of these Manhattan sites.  The results are mesmerizing. Hours, tickets, and more info: newportmansions.org

FRIDAYS & SATURDAYS – FEBRUARY/MARCH – NEWPORT FOODIES WINTER STROLL – 5:30 PM

Newport Foodies offers a Winter Stroll in February and March.  The mission of this new (2018) walking food tour business is “To introduce the flavors and history of Newport to our guests by discovering the eateries and streets of Newport.”  Tours begin at the Armory (365 Thames Street, Newport). Book your tickets and get more information at: 401/619-3019; newportfoodiesstroll.com

NOW THROUGH JUNE 2 — HORSELESS TO HORSEPOWER: GILDED AND GOLDEN AGE AUTOMOBILES – NEW EXHIBIT

This new exhibit opens February 9th and will feature some of the most extravagant and beautiful vehicles ever produced. Come and see for yourself the amazing elegance and styling of these classic automobiles. Open daily, 10 am – 4 pm. 222 Bellevue Avenue, Newport. Info: 401/856-4420; audrainautomuseum.org

NOW THROUGH SEPTEMBER 20, 2019 – “MY SMALL ABILITY” – THE LIFE AND WORK OF WILLIAM CLAGGETT

This exhibit at the Newport Historical Society Resource Center (82 Touro Street, Newport) features the story of 18th century master clockmaker, William Claggett. The exhibit tells us more than just the life of this craftsman by bringing alive other aspects of Newport including trade, artistry, aesthetics, science, religion, and culture through an examination of the life of Mr. Claggett. Additional Info and hours at 401/846-0813; newporthistory.org

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TOURS, SPEAKERS, & SPECIAL EVENTS

Check out the wide selection of lectures, exhibits, talks, classes, tours, and workshops to add to your knowledge and increase your understanding of the people and history of greater Newport.

NOW THROUGH FEBRUARY 24, 2019 — NEWPORT WINTER FESTIVAL

Check out the 31st Annual Newport Winter Festival, touted as “New England’s Largest Winter Extravaganza.” the annual Winter Festival will take place throughout Newport and Newport County. It features over 150 events and offers our guests and visitors a unique winter experience combining food, festivities, music, and fun for all ages. Highlighted events include the Family Fun Days, Chili Cook-Off, Mac & Cheese Smackdown, Newport Burger Bender, Princess Party and exciting, fun concerts by the Jimmy Buffett tribute band, Changes in Latitudes and more!  Updates and more information: https://www.visitrhodeisland.com/event/newport-winter-festival/39329/

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21 & FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – WINTERFEST STORYTIME – THE BREAKERS STABLE

A special feature of this year’s Newport Winter Festival is the Winterfest Storytime at The Breakers Stables each day this week. There are two story times each day, one at 9:30 AM and the second at 1:30 PM. There will be classic stories, interesting craft projects, and a chance to explore the Stable.  Free. Advance registration necessary. 53 Coggleshall Avenue, Newport. Info & Registration: 401/847-1000; newportmansions.org

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – REDWOOD BOOK SALE – TODAY THROUGH SUNDAY – 9:30 AM – 5:30 AM

This is the big one – the book sales everyone waits for. Fortunately, it is in the winter when fewer visitors are around to buy the books you were hoping to get. They have a wide selection of fiction, non-fiction, and other media. Get there early. Info & More: Redwood Library (50 Bellevue Avenue, Newport). Call: 401/847-0292; redwoodlibrary.org

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – ROAD TO INDEPENDENCE – 11:00 AM

This tour features riots and rebellion, enemies and allies! Learn about Newport in the years surrounding the American Revolution.  This tour leaves at 11:00 am from the Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames Street (Newport). Info and reservations at: newporthistorytours.org  

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – SAVE THE BAY SEAL TOUR – 12 NOON-1:00 PM; 1:00-2:00 PM; 2:00-3:00 PM

One-hour tour to view seals on Citing Rock with experts from Save The Bay. Tour leaves from Bowen’s Ferry Landing, 18 Market Square. Tickets: $17-$22. Register at: savebay.org/seals.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – NEWPORT WINTER FESTIVAL COMEDY SHOW – GURNEY’S NEWPORT RESORT & MARINA

Comedian Nick Griffin will headline this year’s 2019 Newport Winter Festival comedy show. Griffin, a solid crowd favorite, sold out his appearance at the festival’s comedy show two years ago. He has appeared in his own comedy special on Comedy Central, as well as on “Late Night with David Letterman” and “Conan.” Griffin’s show will begin at 8:30 pm at Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina on Goat Island in Newport. Joining Griffin will be special guest Ray Harrington of Warwick. For tickets and info: 401/847-7666; newportwinterfestival.com

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – DISCOVER COLONIAL NEWPORT WALKING TOUR – 11:00 AM

Every tour guide should experience one or more of the great walking tours organized by the Newport Historical Society. This tour offers stories of entrepreneurship, African American heritage and religious diversity during Newport’s colonial period.  Tickets: Adults: $15; Children: $5. Tour leaves from the Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames Street (Newport). Info and Reservations at: newporthistorytours.org

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – SAVE THE BAY SEAL TOUR – 1:00-2:00 PM, 2:00-3:00 PM, & 3:00-4:00 PM

One-hour tour to view seals on Citing Rock with experts from Save The Bay. Tour leaves from Bowen’s Ferry Landing, 18 Market Square.  Tickets: $17-$22. Register at: savebay.org/seals.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – NEWPORT FOODIES WINTER STROLL – MEETS AT THE ARMORY — 5:30 PM

Cozy up this Winter and enjoy a three-course meal accompanied by selected wine pairings at three of Newport’s exquisite restaurants. This progressive stroll will last several hours along Newport’s Historic Thames Street and will encompass a total of .75 miles. Tours run Friday and Saturday evenings beginning at 5:30 P.M. Meet Tom and Sue, your tour guides, in front of the Armory (365 Thames Street, Newport). Book your tickets and get more information at: 401/619-3019; newportfoodiesstroll.com

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – ROGUES & SCOUNDRELS WALKING TOUR – 11:00 AM

Every tour guide should experience one or more of the great walking tours organized by the Newport Historical Society. This tour about some of the city’s more colorful residents – pirates, criminals, and more — leaves from the Museum of Newport History, 127 Thames Street (Newport). Info and reservations at: newporthistorytours.org

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – SAVE THE BAY SEAL TOUR – 2:00-3:00 PM & 3:00-4:00 PM

One-hour tour to view seals on Citing Rock with experts from Save The Bay. Tour leaves from Bowen’s Ferry Landing, 18 Market Square. Tickets: $17-$22. Register at: savebay.org/seals.

THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28 – SAVING APHRODITE: CONSERVING GARDEN STATUARY AND FOUNTAINS

The third program in this Winter Lecture Series at Rosecliff will be held at 11:00 am. Members: $10; General Public: $15. Info and Reservations: 401/847-1000; newportmansions.org

UPCOMING 2019 SPECIAL EVENTS

SUNDAY, MARCH 10, 2019 – DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME BEGINS – SET CLOCKS AHEAD ONE HOUR

Daylight Savings Time begins on this day and continues through Sunday, November 3rd.

THURSDAY, MARCH 14 BEYOND THE WRECKING BALL: HISTORIC PRESERVATION’S COMING OF AGE

The fourth program in this Winter Lecture Series at Rosecliff will be held at 11:00 am. Members: $10; General Public: $15. Info and Reservations: 401/847-1000; newportmansions.org

TUESDAY, MARCH 19 – 2019 ANNUAL EXPO – 4-7 PM — GURNEY’S NEWPORT RESORT & MARINA

Newport County Chamber of Commerce’s Expo, sponsored by Newport Hospital, Swipe For A Cause, and MWR Navsta Newport, will be held from 4-7- pm on Tuesday, March 19th at the beautiful Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina. Info about booth space and schedule: 401/847-1608; newportchamber.com

THURSDAY, APRIL 4 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON: OBSESSION UNTAMED

The final program in this 2019 Winter Lecture Series at Rosecliff will be held at 6:00 pm. Members: $10; General Public: $15. Info and Reservations: 401/847-1000; newportmansions.org

APRIL 5-14TH – NEWPORT RESTAURANT WEEK – SPRING 2019 EDITION

Newport Restaurant Week, part of a nationwide movement, debuted here in 2006. Two editions of Newport Restaurant Week take place each year in the spring and in the fall. More than 50 participating restaurants offer extraordinary two-course prix fixe lunches for $20, three-course prix fixe dinners for $35, and a three-course premier prix fixe dinner for $50. For a list of participating restaurants: discovernewport.org

SATURDAY, APRIL 6, 2019 – 34TH RHODE ISLAND STATEWIDE HISTORIC PRESERVATION CONFERENCE

If you love historic preservation, you’ll want to attend this annual conference, focused on Preservation, Recreation and Sport. Keynote speaker is Brent Leggs, Director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Mr. Leggs will reflect on the importance of preserving historic places where Americans play and watch sports. The event, including 12 preservation workshops and 12 tours by boat, bus, bicycle, and foot, will be hosted this year in historic East Providence, RI. Info & Registration:  preservationconferenceri.com; 401/222-2078.

THURSDAY, APRIL 11-13, 2019 – TRAVELS ACROSS AMERICA: ART, NATURE, AND THE PURSUIT OF BEAUTY

The 2019 Newport Symposium kicks off with this lecture and opening reception at Rosecliff at 5:30 pm. For info: 401/847-1000, ext. 178; newportmansions.org

APRIL 13-21, 2019 — 6TH ANNUAL NEWPORT DAFFODIL DAYS FESTIVAL

Join dozens of fun, free, all family daffy events as we welcome over one million daffodils that promise to put on a great show throughout Newport, April 13-21, 2019. Check back often as new events will be added regularly. Shake off the winter doldrums and have a bloomin’ great time!  Info: newportdaffydays.com

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2019 – NEWPORT ART MUSEUM EXHIBIT OPENS — GERTRUDE VANDERBILT WHITNEY: SCULPTURE

Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, daughter of Alice & Cornelius Vanderbilt II, is best known as an art patron and founder of New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.  She also had a significant career as a sculptor, exhibiting throughout the United States and Europe and receiving major commissions and prizes. This is the first exhibition of Whitney’s art since her death in 1942.  More info: 401/848-8200; newportartmuseum.org

NOTES ON THIS SCULPTURE EXHIBIT: “Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: Sculpture” will showcase rarely seen works from private collections, examining the remarkable variety of the artist’s work—from her earliest classical sculptures to her more symbolic public monuments, from her bleakly Realist depiction of the tragedy of World War I to her late Art Deco work.  The exhibit was organized by The Norton Museum of Art and curated by Ellen E. Roberts, the Norton’s Harold and Anne Berkley Smith Curator of American Art.

SATURDAY, APRIL 20, 2019 – BEACH CLEAN-UP AT CLIFF WALK

Go green & spend your Saturday cleaning up one of Newport’s most breathtaking locations. Join us at the Cliff Walk on Saturday, April 20th from 12:00pm to 2:00pm to volunteer with a view! Sponsored by Clean Ocean Access. Coffee provided by Empire Tea & Coffee so BYO Mug.  Info: 401/236-2561; cleanoceanaccess.org

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND — BOOTS ON THE GROUND FOR HEROES MEMORIAL – FORT ADAMS STATE PARK

In 2016, Operation Stand Down Rhode Island (OSDRI) launched the Boots on the Ground for Heroes Memorial with the widely acclaimed and dramatic display of nearly 7,000 military boots. Each boot is adorned with a name placard and an American flag representing each American service member killed in action in the Global War on Terror. The first of its kind, the display has taken place at Roger Williams State Park over the last three years.  This display will take place at Fort Adams State Park during the Memorial Day Weekend. Info: 401/383-4730; osdri.org

MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND – JAMESTOWN NEWPORT FERRY SEASON BEGINS

The 2019 season for the Jamestown Newport Ferry begins Memorial Day Weekend. Stops include Rose Island, Fort Adams, Ann Street Pier, and Perrotti Park. Ferry leaves from the docks at the end of Narragansett Avenue in the village of Jamestown. Info & Tickets: 401/423-1556; jamestownnewportferry.com

SATURDAY, JUNE 1, 2019 – NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL POLO SEASON OPENS

The Newport International Polo Series 28 begins on Saturday, June 1, 2019, 5:00 pm, at the Newport International Polo Grounds, 250 Linden Lane, Portsmouth, RI.  Box Office opens to the general public on March 15. Info: 401/846-0200; nptpolo.com

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 5, 2019 – OPENING NIGHT – NEWPORT GULLS BASEBALL – 6:35 PM

The Newport Gulls will welcome the Mystic Schooners to kick off the 2019 collegiate baseball season at Cardines Field (20 America’s Cup Avenue, Newport) on June 5th. Info & Tickets: 401/845-6832; https://bit.ly/2RxDm0D

JUNE 8, 2019 – NEW YORK YACHT CLUB’S 2019 SEASON BEGINS – LEUKEMIA CUP

The New York Yacht Club has announced its 12-event 2019 sailing season that begins on June 8 with the Leukemia Cup race, followed by the club’s 165th Annual Regatta (June 14-16), and ending on September 29 with the Melges IC37 national championship races (September 27-29). Info:  401/846-1000; nyyc.org

JUNE 15, 16, 17, 2019 – NEWPORT COUNTY DAYS AT THE NEWPORT MANSIONS & HOSPITALITY EMPLOYEE DAYS

This weekend is the second of four annual weekends called Newport County Residents Days at the Newport Mansions. Any Newport County resident will receive free daytime admission to all Preservation Society of Newport County (PSNC) properties currently open (The Breakers, Marble House, Rosecliff) as guests of the PSNC.  Proof of residency (driver’s license, utility bill, etc.) must be presented. This weekend will also feature Hospitality Employee Days with other Newport cultural attractions participating.  Info: 401/847-1000; newportmansions.org

JUNE 21-23, 2019 – THE NEWPORT FLOWER SHOW – AUDUBON ARTISTIC ADVENTURES – ROSECLIFF MANSION

The 2019 Newport Flower Show will feature design and horticulture exhibit, a Home & Garden Marketplace, Oceanside Boutiques, outdoor garden displays, lectures, and demonstrations by the top experts in the field. The Opening Night Party will take place from 6-9 pm on June 21.  Info: newportmansions.org

JULY 26-29, 2019 – NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL – FORT ADAMS – NEWPORT, RI

This famous festival, launched in 1959, will celebrate in a 4-day music extravaganza July 26-29 at Fort Adams, overlooking the mouth of Newport Harbor.  Tickets and more information at newportfolk.org.

AUGUST 2-4, 2019 – NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL – FORT ADAMS – NEWPORT, RI

Since 1954, the greatest jazz musicians on the planet have played before the most loyal and appreciative jazz aficionados and fans in the world at the largest coastal fort in America, Fort Adams. They’ll do it again this August 2-4, beginning with a concert at the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Friday, August 2.  Don’t miss any of the music, the fun, and the food! Tickets and more information at: newportjazz.org.

SEPTEMBER 6-8, 2O19 – NEWPORT SECRET GARDEN TOURS

The annual Newport Secret Garden Tours opens its gates to a plethora of stunning gardens in historic Newport, Rhode Island. Join the Benefactors of the Arts on September 6-8 for this self-guided tour featuring at least 10 incredible gardens. These private gardens are shared with the community to help raise funds for the Arts Education programs in the Island’s public schools. The tour runs daily, 10 am until 5 pm, and tickets are good for any or all days of the tour, allowing for inclement weather, schedule conflicts, or just a late start. Info and tickets: secretgardentours.org

SEPTEMBER 12-15, 2019 – 49TH ANNUAL NEWPORT INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW

Mark your calendar for the 49th annual Newport International Boat Show on the famed downtown Newport waterfront from September 12th to 15th this year. More Information: http://newportboatshow.com/

SEPTEMBER 19-22, 2019 — THE NEWPORT MANSIONS WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL

This is one of the East Coast’s most sophisticated and anticipated events of the year. It is scheduled for September 19-22 at The Elms, Rosecliff and Marble House. Enjoy magnificent wines from around the world, fabulous food from local, regional and national chefs, artisanal food purveyors, cooking demos and interactive activities in an unforgettable setting. To learn more about the schedule of events, or to purchase tickets, visit newportmansions.org

OCTOBER 3-6, 2019 – AUDRAIN’S NEWPORT CONCOURS & MOTOR WEEK – INAUGURAL EVENT

The Audrain Automobile Museum presents the inaugural Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week coming to Newport, Rhode Island on October 3 -6, 2019. Audrain’s Newport Concours & Motor Week 2019 will be the first of an annual event which aims to enliven the story of the automobile and its racing history in the northeast region of our country. With all this history, and help from their Event Chair, world renowned collecting, restoration, and culture expert, Jay Leno and their Concours Chair, Donald Osborne, noted classic car historian, consultant, writer and television personality, the Audrain Automobile Museum adds another chapter to Newport’s extensive book of automotive and sporting fascination. With the support and assistance from the Preservation Society of Newport County, the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Salve Regina University, along with car enthusiasts, luxury car brands, venue partners, and supporters in Newport, Audrain plans to execute one of the highest quality events that the community has ever seen and raise money to increase the local economy. Info: 401/856-4420; audrainautomuseum.org

OCTOBER 3-7, 2019 – ROGUE ISLAND COMEDY FESTIVAL – VARIOUS LOCATIONS – NEWPORT, RI

For auditions, show information, and tickets, contact: rogueislandcomedyfestival.com

OCTOBER 13-15, 2019 – VISITOR EXPERIENCE CONFERENCE (VEX) – PHILADELPHIA, PA

This is an annual industry conference that should be of special interest to tour guides, greeters, tour operators, chambers of commerce, and all those whose goal is to create a memorable experience for their guests and visitors. The 2019 Visitor Experience Conference is a recognized platform for experts to share best practices in the Visitor Experience sector and provide specialized knowledge to take museum organizations to the next level. VEX offers a range of professional learning opportunities. From keynote and panel sessions, behind-the-scenes tours, half-day workshops, and lots of social events to meet and talk with colleagues. The conference takes place in the history-rich city of Philadelphia.

Attendees include museum professionals at all levels of their career, mainly in the Visitor Experience and Visitor Services field, but also consultants, exhibition developers/designers, volunteer managers, ticketing and database companies, and more.  Past VEX attendees have included The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Johns Hopkins University, Arizona State University Art Museum, Museum of Modern Art, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian, Longwood Gardens, National Trust (England), Columbus Museum of Art, The Historic New Orleans Collection, Tacoma Art Museum, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and more from around the world. Info & Registration: https://visitorexperience.group/conference

WINTER IS A GREAT TIME TO EXPERIENCE THESE BEHIND-THE-SCENES TOURS!

BENEATH THE BREAKERS TOUR – NEW WINTER SCHEDULE

The Breakers tour, “Beneath the Breakers,” is still offered daily this winter.  Tours are now offered at 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:30 pm. Tour is one hour. Info & Reservations: newportmansions.org

SERVANT LIFE TOUR AT THE ELMS: DAILY TOURS

Considered by many to be the best tour in Newport, the world-famous 1-hour guided “Servant Life Tour” at The Elms resumed last Friday, February 15, 2019 following a “deep cleaning” at this 1901 mansion.  Tours are now offered at 10:30 am, 12:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:30 pm. Info & Reservations: newportmansions.org

JOB OPENINGS – TOUR GUIDES · GREETERS · SUPPORT STAFF

UPDATE: Employers are beginning to interview people for the upcoming 2019 season. Winter here is often the time when much of the past year’s full-time staff go on the unemployment rolls. During that time, they may decide to take a new job, explore another career, or retire.  As these decisions are shared with their job sites, employers start increasing their recruitment efforts. Now – February/March – is that time. If you want to break into the tour guide and hospitality industries, now is the time to get more aggressive to find and secure a position at your preferred organization.

CURRENTLY: Business is still slow around the city, but the 31st Newport Winter Festival going on now (February 15-24) spiked some new demand. Contact our local employers and find someone who needs an extra hand or two to help them during this last weekend of events.

As February rolls out, do not despair. March is around the corner and the current situation and job prospects will change quickly as winter recedes, snow or no snow. So, continue to use this slow time to fine tune your resume, practice your interviewing skills, and do some networking with the Newport Chamber, Rhode Island Hospitality Association, and other industry groups.

BEST WINTER JOB SEARCH SUGGESTION: This season can be the best time to research jobs, start making connections, and secure employment for the coming Spring and Summer seasons.  Most of the city’s largest tour and cruise businesses accept job applications year-round. Get a jump on the next year’s seasonal job-seeking crowd and apply now for 2019 work on harbor cruises, walking tour guides, trolley driver/guides, and cruise ship bus step-on guide work.

Here is contact information for the city’s biggest employers of tour guides and greeters.

  • Preservation Society of Newport County. This is the largest owner and operator of historic mansions in Newport. Open year-round. They hire tour guides, housekeepers, and security guards. Check out their web site for current job openings.  Info: newportmansions.org
  • Newport Historical Society. This organization offers the largest variety and greatest number of walking tours in the city.  Tours offered year-round. Info: newporthistory.org
  • Newport Restoration Society. This non-profit operates Rough Point mansion (680 Bellevue Avenue, Newport). Seasonal. Info: newportrestoration.org

For continuous and updated job listings, please go to www.whatsupnewp.com.

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HANDBOOK FOR NEW TOUR GUIDES & GREETERS

If you’re new to Newport and/or new to this field, get your copy of THE OFFICIAL 2018 NEWPORT GUIDES & GREETERS HANDBOOK [Direct from the author or via Amazon.com] to help you become a master hospitality ambassador for our city.  It also lists many of the best tour companies and hospitality organizations hiring seasonal and year-round people here.  Consider working in ticket sales or other support positions at one or more of these tour companies. It will give you some visitor services experience and make you aware of tour guide and greeter jobs as they become available during the season.  Handbook includes greetings in 18 of the most frequently spoken languages heard in Newport.

————————————————————————————————————————-KENNETH PROUDFOOT, a Newport Tour Escort and Guide, is the author of The Official 2018 Newport Tour Guides & Greeters Handbook (Shoreline Press (RI), 2017).   

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