THOMASVILLE – Tourism has reached new heights in Thomasville as Flat Stanley, the 1964 children’s book character created by Jeff Brown, makes his way through town.
Ruth Ann Maxwell has lived in Thomasville for over 50 years and was delighted to receive a letter from Colton Gandee, a freshman in Burton, Ohio, asking her to participate in the Flat Stanley Project.
“I feel honored,” she said. “It’s a new experience for me. We’ve had a lot of visitors, but I’ve never been there before.
Established in 1995, the Flat Stanley Project promotes learning and literary skills among students.
Attendees from across the country send a personalized Flat Stanley cutout to anyone in the world tasked with creating a travel journal that includes photos of the cutout silhouette in unique locations.
Maxwell said she looks forward to participating in the project not only for the sake of Gandee, but for the community of Thomasville as well.
“I jumped at the chance just because it’s kind of something that I can fit into my day-to-day activities and generate some interest in our community as well as theirs,” she said.
Since receiving the Flat Stanley paper cut, Maxwell has taken photos with him at well-known locations at events in Thomasville such as the Rose Garden and the Butterfly Festival.
She expects that her adventures with the Flat Stanley action figure will introduce new interests in Gandee’s life.
“I send snapshots of different aspects of my life so that he knows that it is very different and that it can arouse his curiosity to come and visit or at least develop interests to which he has not been exposed”, she declared.
Maxwell added that the Flat Stanley Project is a great learning tool for any student interested in learning more about different environments outside of their own.
“For them to have that little bit of exclusivity of information from another part of the country, I think, is really beneficial to them and they can share it,” she said. “It’s an inexpensive way to provide a unique experience for a child at school and it’s also fun for us.”
Bonnie Hayes, Tourism Manager for the City of Thomasville, said Flat Stanley continues to be a creative outlet for exposing Thomasville to potential tourists.
“It’s a wonderful way to promote and share our city,” she said. “The great thing about showing someone a picture of Flat Stanley is that it makes people feel and makes them come to Thomasville and see it for themselves.”
This isn’t the first Flat Stanley to visit Thomasville, Hayes recalls.
“We have seen a number of people over the past few years showing up with a Flat Stanley and wanting to take a photo near our brochures or in an iconic part of the walkway, and we are always happy to help the person with that,” said she declared. noted.
Prior to returning to Ohio, Maxwell said Flat Stanley will travel further into the Gulf of Mexico on a fishing trip that she hopes will be excited by Gandee.
“They are certainly exposed to a larger experience than they have in their day-to-day life in Ohio,” she said.
Hayes said she looks forward to seeing more of Flat Stanley in Thomasville, especially at this time of year.
“Fall is a great time for people to go out and explore,” she said. “We encourage people to show up with their Flat Stanley and let us give them some great suggestions on what to see.”