PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. and BRANSON, Mo. – The last of Titanic’s original survivors are gone, but the desire to connect with the tragedy’s heroes and victims 100 years later is as strong as ever. The Titanic Museum Attraction is bridging the gap between centuries through the only formal U.S. ceremonies and tribute to the ship, its passengers and crew. The tribute program will be staged on Saturday, April 14, at the Titanic Museum Attractions in Missouri and Tennessee under the watchful eyes of children and grandchildren of those aboard the ship 100 years ago, providing a living connection one of the 20th centuries most captivating stories. The program will begin at noon (Central) at Titanic Museum in Branson, Missouri, and 8:30 p.m. (Eastern) at Titanic Museum Attraction in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
“A Night to Remember: An Original Musical Tribute to Titanic” is a professionally-staged production including the inspiring voices of choirs, the haunting sounds of bagpipes, and comforting words of tribute in honor of the 2,208 people aboard the ship a century ago.
“We wanted the ceremonies to be respectful of the memory of those who were aboard, regardless of their fate,” said John Joslyn, co-owner of the Titanic Museum Attraction and co-leader of the first private expedition to visit the ship’s final resting place on the ocean floor. “We are honored by the many descendants of the ship’s crew and passengers who have chosen to attend our ceremony.”
While many living descendants of Titanic are most commonly found among the great-grandchildren of the ship’s passengers and crew, grandchildren are becoming a rare breed. Rarer still is a living child of the descendants, but Branson will host one of the few remaining children of the ship’s original passengers and crew when Pearl Leemhuis takes her seat at the museum’s ceremonies. Pearl’s mother, Bertha Lehmann was a 17-year-old passenger leaving Switzerland to join her family in Iowa.
Among the descendants attending the tribute in Pigeon Forge will be the grandson of Charles Lightoller, the most senior Titanic crew member to survive the disaster. Timothy Lightoller and his wife are making the trip from their native Scotland to be a part of the tribute.
One of the ship’s most famous passengers, Margaret Brown—known to many as “the unsinkable Molly Brown”—will be represented in Pigeon Forge by her granddaughter, Helen Benziger. Descendants of Isidor and Ida Straus will also be present to pay respects to their ancestors who perished aboard the ship. Isidor Straus was the co-owner with his brother of Macy’s Department Store in New York.
The tribute ceremonies will include performances by choirs, musicians and children as well as a parade of flags, poetry readings, and the lighting of an eternal flame in remembrance of the people aboard Titanic.
Tickets to “A Night to Remember: An Original Musical Tribute to Titanic” are available through the Titanic Museum Attractions in Missouri and Tennessee. Visitors may purchase tickets by phone at (800) 381-7670. In addition to museum admission and the musical production, ticket holders will receive limited edition memorials dedicated to the ship’s history, including a DVD containing video tributes of the personal stories of selected passengers and crew.
The Titanic Museum Attractions are located in Branson, Missouri, and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. Together, the two museums represent the largest permanent monuments in the world dedicated to the memory of Titanic. The museums, immediately recognizable for their ship-shape design, are home to hundreds of artifacts from the ship and its survivors. “Passengers” experience what it was like to walk the hallways, parlors, cabins and Grand Staircase of the Titanic while surrounded by artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of the ship’s history and fate.
Since its opening in 2006, Titanic Branson has welcomed more than 5 million “passengers” aboard the museum. Titanic Pigeon Forge opened in 2010 and has already welcomed 2 million visitors. For additional information about the museums, visit www.titanicattraction.com
Editors: For more information, for high-res museum photos, or to schedule interviews or visits to the museums, please contact Rick Laney or Shane Rhyne at (865) 584-0550.