LIMA — Despite the rain and cooler temperatures Friday, the summer tourism season arrived in Lima and Allen County with the opening of the blue caboose — the Lima Allen County Convention and Visitors Bureau’s tourist information center — behind Howard Johnson on Roschman Avenue.
Friday’s event marked the 27th year for the blue caboose, containing not only flyers and other information for tourism attractions both in Lima and the rest of Ohio, but also Lima-related gift items available for purchase. Lima Allen County CVB director of tourism Cara Stombaugh said the center is important, helping both local and out-of-town visitors learn more about the fun opportunities in our region.
“I want to thank our volunteers who volunteer their time here every season,” she said. “Without them, we would not be able to welcome the visitors we do here through the summer months.”
Joining the CVB at the tourist information center opening were drivers in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Spring 4-Wheel Jamboree Nationals, which is continuing through Sunday at the Allen County Fairgrounds. Lima Allen County CVB executive director Christine Pleva said the event has been a worthwhile partnership.
“Having 25 years for one group to be coming back over and over again to our community speaks well of our community and so wonderfully of (the drivers) in terms of finding us a home to come to when you come each year,” she said. “This is a prime example of why tourism is so important. Over 25 years, this group has generated tens of millions of dollars for this community.”
Bigfoot driver Larry Swim was glad to come back to Lima, a place he has been to many times with the jamboree.
“It’s like our home away from home,” he said. “We enjoy coming out here. Everybody’s great, whether at the fairgrounds meeting fans or going out to dinner somewhere here.”
Area law enforcement also took the time during the first day of the jamboree to emphasize that officers will be on the road enforcing safety belt laws during the upcoming “Click it or Ticket” campaign. For Allen County Sheriff Matt Treglia, the focus of the event is not on trying to give out tickets but rather to keep people safe with more vehicles on the road during the summer.
“The statistics have shown that if you’re wearing a safety belt that you will be more likely to survive a crash than if you are not,” he said. “It’s about everybody being safe and surviving an accident.”