Paducah Ambassadors enjoy painting the town in red coats

Shown caroling at the Small Business Saturday event in downtown Paducah are (from left) Paducah Ambassadors Roy Hensel as Scrooge, Robert Worden as Charles Dickens and carolers Pamela Whinnery, Marty Bendick, Cheryl Bendick and Owen Kim Blaisdell.

Like the Elf on the Shelf during the holiday season, the Paducah Ambassadors seem to be everywhere, doing what they can to make Paducah an enjoyable place to visit and live.

Begun on Feb. 20, 1988, by Mayor Gerry Montgomery, the Paducah Ambassadors are finishing their 34th year of civic support in their recognizable red coats.

Most recently, members of the civic organization could be seen downtown last weekend during Small Business Saturday. Many were dressed as 19th century Christmas carolers, others played music or even expressed a bitter opinion of the holidays as Ebenezer Scrooge.

They will be seen this Saturday during the Candy Cane Hunt at the National Quilt Museum and City Christmas Parade along Broadway Street.

According to paducahky.gov/paducah-ambassadors, the group maintains about 130 volunteers and put in more than 5,000 hours of service each year. The organization even has an office at City Hall.

Robert Worden is a past president for the Paducah Ambassadors and spoke about their contribution to Small Business Saturday downtown.

“We had about 11 Paducah Ambassadors dressed in costume,” he said. “Some were caroling or playing music. I spent a lot of the day directing traffic. Of course, Scrooge went around entertaining people.”

Worden is a Saturday morning greeter, works with “Dickens of a Christmas” and puts on a certified class for those who want to serve as tour guides with passenger riverboats that pull in to port or other tours around town.

“During the Quilt Show, we do a city tour,” he said. “It takes 30 minutes to go out to Whitehaven, 30 minutes at Whitehaven and then, 30 minutes coming back from Whitehaven, talking about the aspects of the city. It’s always free of charge.”

The red coats the Ambassadors wear are instantly recognized by people in the city.

“Our formal attire is: red coat, white shirt, red tie and black slacks,” Worden said. “Our informal or summer attire is: a red shirt with khakis or white pants. In summer, it gets a little too hot to wear the jacket.

“There are three reasons why the red was selected: One, it is the color of tourism. It’s also the color of welcome for visitors, and it’s the most dominant color in the spectrum. Red is easiest to see.”

Worden said ambassadors work all over the city. He and his wife are docents at the National Quilt Museum, and other ambassadors work there as well. Others work at the Paducah Railroad Museum or at the Whitehaven Welcome Center.

“We work in conjunction with all of the museums, trying to promote them,” he said. “Our motto is ‘To improve and enhance the image of the city of Paducah.’ Sometimes, you’ll find us singing ‘The Paducah Song,’ and if we don’t have a good voice and cannot sing, we can usually find music and play it for people.”

“The Paducah Song” came out in 1943 and was featured in the movie “The Gang’s All Here.” It is notable for rhyming “Paducah” with “bazooka” — if you want to.

Worden said the way to join the civic organization is to contact a Paducah Ambassador.

“I usually keep some applications on hand — either in my trunk or online,” he said. “Then, the application is filled out and sent to City Hall, where our president, Janice Connor, sets up the orientation.”

The phone number for the Paducah Ambassadors office is 270-444-8632.

Follow David B. Snow on Twitter, @SunWithSnow, or on Facebook at facebook.com/sunwithsnow.

Follow David B. Snow on Twitter, @SunWithSnow, or on Facebook at facebook.com/sunwithsnow.

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