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Amtrak tour raises interest in State Games

By Staff
PROMOTING STATE GAMES Leah Dudley Reed, left, Brenda Hiatt, Allison McKell, Sandy Bynum, Jerome Treham and Elton Reed arrive home Wednesday from a "whistle stop" press tour promoting State Games of Mississippi. Traveling by Amtrak, a key State Games sponsor, they promoted the sportsfest to media in Greenwood, Jackson, McComb, New Orleans, Picayune, Laurel and Meridian. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Chris Whitaker / staff writer
June 6, 2002
After traveling across Mississippi on a "whistle stop" tour aboard Amtrak, representatives of the State Games of Mississippi say more people now know about the annual event.
State Games representatives teamed with Amtrak, the event's Silver Sponsor, for stops Tuesday along the "City of New Orleans" route in Greenwood, Jackson, McComb and New Orleans.
Then they boarded the "Crescent" in New Orleans on Wednesday and stopped in Picayune and Laurel before returning to Union Station in Meridian in late morning.
In each city, representatives touted the 2002 State Games, a statewide amateur sportsfest patterned after the Olympics. Athletic events are set for the weekends of June 14-16 and June 20-23.
Opening ceremonies for the 11th annual event are set for June 14 at Meridian High's Ray Stadium at which servicemen will be honored.
The Partnership for a Healthy Mississippi will be the State Games' first-ever "Presenting Sponsor." State Attorney General Mike Moore, chairman of the partnership, will be the speaker.
Amateur athletes from more than 160 different communities are expected to participate. Meridian and surrounding areas could have more than 1,700 participants.
Wanda McAlister, the 2001 BellSouth/Cingular Wireless Female Sportsman of the Year, hopes more people will attend this year. McAlister won the gold medal in dressage, an equestrian event.
Carolyn Smith, vice chairman of the State Games board of directors, said the event's 4,000 athletes and their families should pack hotels as far away as Laurel, Decatur and Newton.
Sandy Bynum, executive director of the Lauderdale County Tourism Bureau, said the Amtrak tour was a great way to generate interest in Mississippi.