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Hot Springs gets in on the action 

click to enlarge HOMETOWN GRUB: Clinton with Dan Rather at McClard's in Hot Springs.
  • HOMETOWN GRUB: Clinton with Dan Rather at McClard's in Hot Springs.
Home, for many people, is not only where the heart is but where the high school diploma was earned. For Bill Clinton that’s Hot Springs, a city that shaped the future president in many ways beginning in grade school. The popular tourist destination doesn’t intend to miss out on visitor possibilities from the Clinton Presidential Center opening. It notes many Clinton-related jaunts in Hot Springs and also plans Little Rock festivities of its own at the Old State House, the place where Clinton announced his campaign for president and triumphantly celebrated his two election victories. Steve Arrison, executive director of the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, also notes that hotel rooms, which might be in short supply in Little Rock, should be available in Hot Springs, less than an hour away. Clinton activities in Hot Springs include: • A guided driving tour of Clinton landmarks. Check the visitors center on Central Avenue at Hill Wheatley Plaza for a CD to play for a guided tour of Clinton landmarks. An accompanying map will help pinpoint the sites. The center also has an updated brochure about Clinton, developed after he was elected in 1992. • You want gifts? How about a postcard showing Clinton in his sixth-grade class at Ramble Elementary School. Find them at the gift shop in the Hot Springs Mountain Tower. • A new exhibit in the mountain tower incorporates Clinton’s year in Hot Springs into an extensive display on the history of the national park at Hot Springs, the nation’s first. • A new photographic exhibit, “Elvis: Grace and Grit,” from the archives of CBS, featuring Clinton’s favorite superstar, Elvis Presley, has 62 photos. It’s free to the public, beginning Nov. 19 in the Hot Springs Convention Center. A second photo exhibit of Irish-American presidents, including Clinton, will go up at the convention center later in the month. • Thank Hot Springs, too, for the Reel Film Festival, a screening of Clinton-related films in Little Rock during the library opening week. It’s an offshoot of the Hot Springs Documentary Film Institute. On Saturday, Nov. 20, the Hot Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau will issue the ninth in a series of popular Bill Clinton trading cards at the Old State House. It’ll be a keeper. The photo will be taken at the library opening Nov. 18, perhaps of all the presidents on hand in Little Rock. Get your cards at an event beginning at 11 a.m. The Hot Springs Community Band will play until 1 p.m. The card giveaway starts at noon, with three free cards per customer as long as the 100,000 cards last. Clinton’s stepfather, Dick Kelley of Hot Springs, and members of the Virginia Clinton Kelley Birthday Club from Hot Springs will be on hand. For more information call Steve Arrison at 501-321-2027. For information about Hot Springs, check www.hotsprings.org or call 1-888-SPA-CITY.
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