Peals of laughter work their way into the Waco Tourist Information Center – the laughter of a family meeting in our parking lot. One of hundreds over the years. Our tourism counselors can tell stories of watching couples fall in love, children grow up, puppies going to new homes, first meetings, and last goodbyes, all in front of our Information Center. We have a few regular visitors that we know by name. Sometimes we even know the names of their dogs.
Waco is located just about exactly half way between Dallas and Austin. With such a convenient location on I-35, and a friendly atmosphere with much less traffic than either of those not too distant neighbors, it is no wonder families and friends choose Waco for their meeting place.
We draw a lot of convention groups, reunions, and weddings based on our central location, and all of the fun, family-friendly things we have to do. For the same reasons, individuals often choose Waco as a meeting place. Friends reconnecting, children heading to their grandparents house, a couple who met online, meeting in person for the first time. We see it all from our perch inside the Information Center, and hear many wonderful stories.
Some of my favorites involve troops returning after a tour of duty, elderly brothers and sisters getting together for perhaps the last time, and those children who are a little nervous, but even more excited to spend their first weekend with their grandparents – without mom and dad. Then we have the tales from Baylor alumni, bringing their children back to continue the legacy and stories of Texans who have moved far away and are coming home, to visit or to stay.
As I was writing this, the family that was laughing outside came in to ask questions. They were meeting in Waco to transfer a car from a brother in Dallas to a sister in Austin. They were reminiscing about the times they have come to Waco over the years – meeting here for boat races or festivals.
The great thing is that we get to share their joy for a brief time, and help them find the perfect restaurant for a special dinner, or plan their day at our great museums and attractions, and share stories about Waco history with them. We may not be who they came to see, but we hope we are a part of why they will have great memories of their visit to Waco & the Heart of Texas.
Happy New Year to all of our visitors. Y’all come back now, you hear!