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Delta Queen to Make Final Stop in Louisville

Monday October 13, 2008

Delta Queen, the beloved paddle wheeler that has been part of the Great Steamboat Race nearly every year since 1963, will make its final voyage to Louisville this month — and the city is throwing a party to honor its heritage.

The Delta Queen will arrive Friday, Oct. 24 for a 12-hour stay in Louisville.

The staff of the Belle of Louisville and Mayor Jerry Abramson are throwing a New Orleans-style party to celebrate the long friendship between the Belle and the Queen.

“One of the great rites of spring in Louisville is hearing the Delta Queen and the Belle of Louisville chug it out on the Ohio River,” Abramson said. “But, unfortunately, the Queen’s great calliope is being silenced.”

A public ceremony begins at 4 p.m. on Oct. 24, followed by music, food and other entertainment. A final farewell to the Delta is at 8 p.m., when she sets cruise. Admission to the party is free – and special events for families and children are planned until 11 p.m.

The Queen, built in 1926, is losing a federal exemption that allows it to make overnight passenger cruises. She must stop cruising Nov. 1 – and she also will no longer be able to participate in the Great Steamboat Race, a signature event for the Kentucky Derby Festival.

“It’s a very sad day to see this beautiful piece of history cease to ply the nation’s waters,” said Linda Harris, CEO of the Belle.