CAMPOBELLO ISLAND, New Brunswick — Just across the FDR Memorial Bridge from coastal Lubec, Roosevelt Campobello International Park is readying for a very busy season.
Park spokesman Vern McKimmey said Tuesday that 2010 saw about 120,000 visitors, representing a 20 percent increase over the previous year despite a tough economy. McKimmey said that after 9-11, attendance dropped off. “Our goal is to get back to 150,000 visitors a year, which is where we were several years ago.”
But McKimmey didn’t sit back and wait for this season, either. He spent the winter attending trade shows, tourist fairs and other events in Boston, New York City, Halifax and other locations to spread the word about the park, which he calls “the gem of the coast.” He also helped establish a satellite outpost of the park at the Whiting Store on busy Route 1, hoping to lure even more visitors to the seaside park.
The Whiting welcoming center will be staffed during park hours and contain brochures and other information on the park and local attractions. New Brunswick Tourism has supplied a touch screen guide, McKimmey said.
“Many tourists and travelers are going both north and south on Route 1,” McKimmey said. “The welcoming center will be able to assist them with planning a trip to the park, information on crossing the border and other tourism services.”
McKimmey said the question he is most asked is: “How do I get there?” The new welcoming center will be able to provide information on both border crossings and ferry services to the island.
Also new at the park itself is a new exhibit focused on Eleanor Roosevelt. Every day, 20 people will be able to have tea on the porch of the Hubbard Cottage while a guide tell’s the story of the former First Lady’s life on the island. Eleanor Roosevelt was last at the island in 1962, the same year she died.
The park is owned, funded and staffed by the people of both the U.S. and Canada. In 1881, most of the southern portion of Campobello Island was acquired by a consortium of Boston and New York businessmen who purchased land and established cottages for summer resort vacations.
Five of those turn-of-the-century cottages remain and today make up the historic core of Roosevelt Campobello International Park. The FDR summer home is the park’s centerpiece — a magnificent 34-room residence which is preserved as a memorial and as a symbol of the close friendship between Canada and the United States.
The park also contains an interpretive center, major flower gardens, and a network of wooded paths, including a 2,800-acre natural area with sand beaches, walking bogs and wonderful vistas from ocean headlands.
McKimmey said the park is taking a much more pro-active role in getting the word out about the park’s offerings to those close to Campobello. “We will be hosting booths at local fairs and events trying to get people who are nearby to come to this gem in their own backyard,” he said.
A passport or passcard is required to get back into the United States after visiting the park.
More information about the park, including hours of operation and border crossing tips, can be found at www.fdr.net/home.