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Masters keeps airport staff busy

The busiest time of the year is upon the staff of the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport.

The reason: It's The Masters.

One could say the same thing about the staffs of at least two hotels in Thomson, too. Holiday Inn and Best Western White Columns Inn, both located on Washington Road, just a short distance from the local airport and Interstate 20 are booked solid this week for the biggest golf tournament in the world.

Every year, The Masters draws thousands and thousands of visitors, including movie stars and pro athletes to the famed Augusta National Golf Course -- home of The Masters.

While most visitors and the pro golfers playing in this week's tournament stay mostly in the Augusta, Columbia County and Aiken, S.C. areas, some of them also nestle in Thomson for the big week. They either drive back and fourth to the course each day or take a shuttle -- one which is offered this week at White Columns Inn, as has been the case for the past several years.

One of the busiest days at the Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport this week was Wednesday.

"We had a lot of flights booked that day," said Sonja Hardin, who takes care of the reservations for Spirit Aviation, Inc. -- the firm that manages the local airport. "We're going to be real busy on Thursday and on Sunday, too."

Last year, Mrs. Hardin and several other staff members of Spirit Aviation put in more than 100 hours of work during Masters' week.

"I was totally exhausted by the end of the week -- that Sunday," added Mrs. Hardin "I've got a feeling that I'm going to be even more tired this year than I was last year, simply because we've been so busy."

A host of members of the Thomson-McDuffie County Chamber of Commerce also have been busy, meeting and greeting visitors at the airport.

Chamber of Commerce Director Carolyn Gilbert brought out apples, bottled water and bags of Georgia peanuts as refreshments for visitors, pilots getting off aircraft as they fly into Thomson-McDuffie Regional Airport. A newcomers' guide to Thomson and McDuffie County also is available, as are a host of complimentary magazines pertaining to aircraft, etc. In addition, there also are complimentary copies of Augusta Magazine at the airport.

Officials and members of the Thomson-McDuffie County Convention and Visitors Bureau also are involved in meeting and greeting Masters' visitors this week. A tent has been set up near the entrance of Best Western White Columns Inn so that guests can enjoy refreshments, as well as receive an assortment of free gifts.

Elizabeth Vance, who serves as director of the local convention and visitors' bureau, said her group also will be helping those who want to know more about what this area has to offer by providing visitors with helpful guide publications.

An art tent also has been set up nearby where local artists -- all members of the McDuffie Arts Council can display a wide array of their works. Some of their works are even being sold to visitors this week.

Hotel officials there are providing refreshments, appetizers, wine and other beverages, as well as music to enhance the party-on-the-roadside atmosphere.

The meet and greet is scheduled daily this week from 5:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.

Web posted on Thursday, April 08, 2010

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