Conn. Anticipates Influx From 'Amistad'

HARTFORD, Conn. -- The movie "Amistad" is expected to lead to a rush of visitors to Connecticut, and the state's Tourism Hot Line is prepared.

The film portrays the struggle of African Americans who rebelled aboard the Spanish boat Amistad in waters just off the coast here in the early 19th century. The Steven Spielberg epic also details the ensuing trial, and many of the scenes were shot on location in the state.

State tourism officials anticipate the film may lead to hundreds of thousands of visits. Among the interesting sites in the state is the Freedom Trail, which includes New Haven, Hartford, Farmington and New London -- cities that played a role in the Amistad drama.

Another area of interest is Mystic Seaport, itself a Freedom Trail site and the movie's stand-in for 19th century New Haven. Building of a reconstructed Amistad schooner there will begin soon.

Organizations in Connecticut have pooled resources to create a cornucopia of events, exhibits, forums, books, video and audio tapes, Web sites and CD-ROMs to help satiate the growing Amistad appetite.

Besides auto tour tapes for individuals, three local tourism offices -- the New Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau, Greater Hartford Tourism District and Connecticut's Mystic & More -- have coordinated a group tour itinerary based on the Amistad case. Highlights of the itineraries include major exhibits and re-enactments, dining and accommodations.

Motorcoach operators, schools and associations are urged to contact Suzette Benitez at the Greater New Haven CVB at (800) 3321 STAY or (203) 777-8550 for full details.

For further information on the state, call the hot line at (800) 282-6863 or the state Office of Tourism at (860) 270-8080.

The office's fax line is (860) 270-8077; its Web site is www.state.ct.us/tourism.htm.

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Amistad-related activities planned are:

  • On the Internet, "Exploring Amistad: Race and the Boundaries of Slavery in Antebellum Maritime America," accessible at amistad.mysticseaport.org
  • Through February, "Speaking for Ourselves: African Americans in Farmington," exhibit at the Farmington Library.
  • Through Feb. 28, The Amistad Affair exhibit at Sterling Library at Yale University in New Haven.
  • Through March, "Setting the Record Straight, courtroom reenactments at the Old State House in Hartford.
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