Titanic centennial: Museums, events, dinners
Published: Sunday, April 1, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 29, 2012 at 4:18 p.m.
A hundred years ago, the sinking of the Titanic was a tragic disaster. Today, it's fodder for an entertaining outing with the kids.
There are replica ships in Tennessee and Missouri, graveyard tours in New York and Nova Scotia, traveling exhibits from Las Vegas to Atlanta, and two brand new museums in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and Southampton, England. Hotels and restaurants are serving Titanic dinners, and ships are even heading to the disaster site — including an anniversary cruise that slashed prices last-minute from nearly $5,000 to $1,000. Here's a roundup of notable Titanic events and attractions in the United States.
PIGEON FORGE AND BRANSON: It's a long, long way from any ocean, but Titanic museums in Branson, Mo., and in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., have hosted more than 7 million visitors since 2006 and claim to house some of the largest permanent collections anywhere of Titanic artifacts and memorabilia. The museums are actual half-scale replicas of the Titanic and are co-owned by John Joslyn, who was co-leader of the first private expedition to visit the shipwreck. Museum visitors get the boarding pass of a Titanic passenger or crew member when they enter, and at the end of the tour, they learn whether their passenger lived or died, www.titanicpigeonforge.com/ or www.titanicbranson.com/.
Both museums will have special ceremonies April 14 marking the anniversary, and they're also sponsoring a Coast Guard cutter to take 1.5 million rose petals to the North Atlantic site where the ship sank. The cutter will leave Boston April 10 and joins several commercial cruises in the area for the occasion.
NEW YORK: The Titanic never arrived in New York but many New Yorkers were onboard and are buried here — both those who survived as well as those who perished. John Jacob Astor IV, said to be the richest man on the ship, is buried in Trinity Church Cemetery in Lower Manhattan. Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx is home to graves and memorials for 12 people who were onboard. Among them were Isidor Straus, owner of Macy's department store, and his wife Ida, who chose to stay with her husband rather than get in a lifeboat without him, www.thewoodlawncemetery.org/site/.
Nine more are buried at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn including Douglas Spedden and his parents. When the Speddens were rescued by lifeboat, Douglas, then 6, lost a beloved teddy bear, which was later found and sent to him. The bear, purchased at FAO Schwarz, was manufactured by the famous German Steiff company, which then created a popular Titanic "mourning bear." Douglas died at age 9 after being hit by a car. His tombstone reads: "Titanic Survivor." A Titanic tour of Green-Wood is sold out but you can visit the cemetery on your own, www.green-wood.com/.
An eight-night Titanic anniversary cruise leaves New York April 10 headed for Halifax and the disaster site, where a memorial service will be held. Bookings were still available as of March 26, and prices for a windowless stateroom had been reduced from $4,900 to $999, www.titanicanniversarycruise.com/.
ELSEWHERE: Considering that the ship sank to the bottom of the ocean 100 years ago, it's remarkable how many Titanic artifacts (and replicas of artifacts) are on display in what seems like every corner of America. There's a Titanic Historical Society museum in Indian Orchard, Mass.; a "Titanic — 12,450 Feet Below" show at Mystic Aquarium in Mystic, Conn., opening April 12; and "Titanic: 100 Year Obsession" that opened at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., in March, highlighting dives to the wreck site by Ballard and Cameron. The National Geographic exhibit will include replicas and props from the film as well as models of the ship, engine room and a radio room, http://events.nationalgeographic.com/events/exhibits/2012/03/29/titanic/.
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