Wall Draws About 30,000, Motels, Restaurants Fill Up

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Visitors to the Vietnam Tribute Wall exceeded even the optimistic hopes of the organizers, with estimates of the three-day crowd in Green Valley Park ranging from a low of 26,000 to a high of 40,000.

The event contributed to a sell-out weekend for Rim Country hotels and big crowds at restaurants and movie theaters. Other weekend events also drew crowds, including the Relay for Life and a modest turnout for the Pine Strawberry Festival.

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Audi Atkins finds a familiar name on the wall. The young boy was one of an estimated 26,000 to 40,000 people who visited the Tribute Wall in Payson.

Originally, the local veterans who worked for months to bring the traveling replica of the Vietnam Memorial to town sounded optimistic when they predicted a turnout of about 15,000.

They appear to have doubled that total, by most estimates.

Payson Mayor Kenny Evans said the crew that set up the wall and kept an eye on the crowds throughout the event put the attendance at as high as 40,000.

Tourism and Economic Development Director Cameron Davis said he calculated that about 300 people an hour filed past the wall, with traffic remaining steady all day and far into the night.

He put the crowd at 26,000 to 30,000, based on some rough calculations.

"Every room in town was booked -- Pine and Strawberry too," he said, happy about a sell-out weekend in the face of the year's bleak economic tidings.

"Main Street was packed the entire weekend."

Davis said that the organizers of the First Friday Art Walk on Main Street reported their biggest crowd ever.

Even at 11:30 on Saturday night, "the movie theater was packed," and most restaurants were busy all weekend, he said.

"We just had a lot of people circulating all around town," said Davis.

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