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The group also named local realtor Diana Kennedy, a member of the Mount Pleasant/Titus County Chamber of Commerce tourism committee, as Best Step On Guide.

The group also learned about the Mount Pleasant Rodeo Arena, got to check out a drag racing boat Puma Gold Tip

Phillips said the travel counselors compile a report on the tour that is then sent out to all of the highway information centers across the state.

Kennedy said that when the tour took them past Edwards Cemetery, she told them Puma Shoes New Model

The Best City and Best Step On Guide awards are among eight that will be presented at the Stars of Texas awards dinner April 16 during the Texas Travel Counselors Conference in South Padre Island. The group will also hand out awards for Best Breakfast, Best Lunch, Best Dinner, Best Attraction, Best Attraction/Museum Guide and Best Hotel.

"This group went through 21 different cities and Mount Pleasant was chosen as the best from the standpoint of it's a wonderful place for visitors to go and also for the wonderful, warm hospitality that we received from the whole community," he said. "It's something to be very, very proud of."

"That gives a whole different flavor for the city," Phillips said. "When Diana got on the bus, she felt right at ease, right at home, like somebody you've known for a long time. She did a fabulous job."

Chamber CEO Faustine Curry said about 40 volunteers worked on the tour project.

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"The purpose of the tour is to allow the travel counselors to visit these cities and be able to tell visitors that come into their centers that they've been there and they've seen it," said Bob Phillips, the TTIA's study tour coordinator.

that the tallest soldier in the Confederate Army had been buried there.

Kennedy gave them some great stories about the city's folklore and history, including the fact that Kennedy's grandfather had owned the downtown saloon at one time and how the Caddo Indians had camped at Dellwood Park and they believed the springs there had curative powers.

Phillips said the group fell for the hoax until he looked down and noticed the deputy's handcuffs.

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"I saw that they were plastic and then I realized that we'd been had!" he said. "That was cool."

Rester and Kennedy regaled the group with colorful stories of Mount Pleasant's history and unique sites in a way that entertained and impressed the counselors. Phillips said the way the stops along the tour were presented really made a lasting impression.

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Phillips said he and his nephew, Davis Phillips who was actually in charge were sitting in the front of the bus when the "deputy" boarded. "My nephew immediately points at me and says, 'He is!'

Mount Pleasant named Best City

That's when "Fife" said, "Well, I'm commandeering this bus."

"Then we drove down to the Masonic Cemetery and one of Jacob Butler, who is real tall was dressed up like that soldier. He jumped out from behind a tree and beat on the side of the bus. He got on board and he told them he couldn't believe that they hadn't stop at his cemetery and that he had to chase the bus all the way down there to the Masonic Cemetery," Kennedy said.

"It has to do with the community itself and the people in the community. You have such a beautiful city, but the thing that really puts you head and shoulders above everybody else was the people that we came in contact with and how organized and planned you were for this tour," Phillips said. "The way the Mount Pleasant folks turned out was just wonderful."

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Various Chamber committees worked hard to make the group's visit a unique experience and one that really showcased the Chamber's "Everything Texas" motto.

"We had the train depot and a mule driven trolley and later a steam engine trolley and a huge hotel in the park area. People would come from all over and take the waters there at the hotel. I told them I was going to show them some history they would never get out of book," she said.

Kennedy said Martin Bell, the chairman of the chamber at the time, dressed up like "Barney Fife" while she and Bo Rester dressed in denim and cowboy boots for the best hoax the tour group has ever seen.

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Phillips said it is well deserved.

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"We worked very hard to put Mount Pleasant in its best light and more importantly, we wanted to show what typical tourists see when they come to Mount Pleasant," she said. "We wanted to make sure they got the full meaning of 'Everything Texas.'"

The 38th annual tour, sponsored by the Texas Travel Industry Association, travels through a different region of the state each year. The group of travel counselors who work at the state's highway information centers, visited Mount Pleasant and 20 other cities in Northeast Texas October 6 11, 2013. The counselors ate at 15 restaurants and visited Puma Trainers Womens Black 36 attractions.

"They gave us great information. That's part of it. To know your town, but to also have fun with it, that's great," he said.

"We came up with the idea that we would involve the bus driver and our local Sheriff. We rode in the Sheriff's car and pulled the bus over at the county line on I 30. We got on the bus and our fake sheriff's deputy said, 'You've been pulled over and I want to know who's in charge of this deal,'" Kennedy said.

on Town Lake to promote Quake on Town Lake, were treated to a tour of the candy making process at Sweet Shop USA, got a close up view of the downtown Main Street area and were greeted enthusiastically by huge crowds, cheerleaders and music at stops at the Whatley Center at Northeast Texas Community College and the Mount Pleasant Country Club.

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in organizing this. It's wonderful when you see a community like Mount Pleasant that really understands the importance of tourism and better yet, how to market your city and go about promoting yourself."

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"That really never happens," Phillips said. "The people of Mount Pleasant should be very proud of their Chamber and the great job they did Puma Clyde Gold

Mount Pleasant will receive the group's top award of Best City based on the counselors' impressions of how the city was promoted during the tour.

Curry said being named Best City, the tour's top award, "is amazing."

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