The success of the all-volunteer Paducah Ambassadors, or "Red Coats" as they are offen called, is quite a story to tell. Former Mayor Gerry Montgomery shared the reason the group was first formed 25 years ago and how many communities have tried to copy Paducah's enviable program.
"We were having a big convention and needed lots of help from people who could represent our City well, make people feel welcome and share Paducah history with pride - and we couldn't afford to pay dozens of people with these qualifications. Other cities have tried to do what we do, but it doesn't last. Our Ambassadors are a dedicated and hard-working group of volunteers."
In 1988, when then Mayor Montgomery asked people to help, little did she know her friends and many who simply loved Paducah, would step up and volunteer to meet and greet and share what many of us take for granted, genuine Paducah hospitality. Now, 25 years later, there are 132 of these red-coated volunteers continuing to greet visitors off the river boats when they're docked at Paducah's riverfront, give tours of the floodwall murals and other Paducah attractions, give directions and answer questions at the downtown gazebo, attend ribbon-cuttings, welcome visitors and locals to events hosted by our Mayor or other City officials, man booths and entrances at festivals, help welcome tourists at the Visitors Bureau plus more jobs than we can list.
Paducah Ambassadors have volunteered over 5,000 hours so far this year, and that's just the time that's been recorded. These red-jacketed greeters have welcomed guests to Quilt City USA for 25 years. It's hard to imagine events without their presence.
Mayor Gayle Kaler and Commissioner Sandra Wilson attended the annual dinner and 25-year celebration Monday evening at the Walker Building in downtown Paducah. "I drove to Frankfort and back today," said the Mayor. "I didn't want to miss this time to celebrate and show appreciation for all this group means to Paducah. We are fortunate to have a faithful group of volunteers to represent us and be dedicated to promoting good will for our community. Thank you, Paducah Ambassadors - for all you do each day for our town."
Newly sworn-in president Marty Bendick said, "Each time we put on these red jackets, we represent our Mayor and our City. It's a responsibility we don't take lightly. We do this (volunteer) with great pride."