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Historic Columbia River Highway Celebration
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After its completion in 1922, the Historic Columbia River Highway was considered to be a marvel of modern American engineering. Gently weaving amid waterfalls, towering trees, abundant wildlife and majestic views, the highway spanned more than 75 miles and was promptly dubbed "The King of Roads." As time progressed, the highway aged and fell into disrepair. Interstate 84 replaced the Historic Columbia River Highway for motorists and highway tunnels were filled with rock and abandoned. Whole segments of the old highway were condemned and closed. An American treasure was almost lost. For 10 years, however, intense restoration efforts were made to bring back abandoned segments of roadway. During the Historic Columbia River Highway Celebration, a spectacular segment of the Historic Columbia River Highway came alive again when two long-closed sections of scenic roadway were reopened to visitors from around the world. New state trails were created to provide hiking and biking with spectacular views and access to the restored Mosier Twin Tunnels.
Metropolitan Group was hired to position the Historic Columbia River Highway as a major tourism resource in our region and to celebrate the accomplishments of highway reconstruction. Working step-by-step with state agencies (including Travel Oregon and the Oregon Tourism Commission), federal agencies and representatives of communities along the highway, we assisted with sponsorship recruitment, various events and promotions, partnerships, advertising and media relations.
The monthlong celebration involved thousands of participants and included community celebrations, a 75-mile antique car parade, a 4.6 mile run/walk, a dedication ceremony, business promotions, and sanctioned events including an art exhibit, bike rides, boat excursions, nature walks and many other activities. The public awareness campaign and sponsorship plan MG developed resulted in over 33 million impressions made during the summer of 2000.
Beginning with a small amount of seed money, Metropolitan Group leveraged the initial funding 300 percent through securing cash and in-kind sponsorships and television and radio advertising. A comprehensive earned media component garnered placement in numerous media, including the Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, The Oregonian and National Public Radio. Virtually all local and regional television, radio and newspaper media covered the celebration and stories of the restored historic highway.