WCA hires Ed Caum as tourism coordinator

Cruise ships have started to make their appearances at the City Dock, and the Wrangell Cooperative Association has geared up for the season by hiring Ed Caum as tourism coordinator.

Caum, known by some in town as "Fast Eddy" from his rock and roll radio shows on KSTK in the '70s, started the position at the beginning of May.

The tourism branch of WCA is set up to grow exponentially, Caum said. Economic development and bringing new money into town are two of his goals.

He emphasized that the main reason people travel is to create memories. His goal is to help visitors create memories through cultural experiences and education. Native song, dance, language and art can be a part of those memories, he said.

Part of what makes Wrangell special, Caum said, is that "it's not a Ketchikan or a Juneau." Wrangell provides more one-on-one connections for visitors and can cater more toward the smaller, more niche cruises.

This summer, master carvers are coming to Wrangell to work on new totem poles. Though the dates are not yet official, Caum wants to make it possible for people to watch the carvers work.

He spoke of turning the WCA Cultural Center on Front Street into a space in the future where visitors could maybe even try their own hand at carving - creating experiences like that helps to build memories, he said.

Caum is planning to open a gift shop or curio shop in the center that will sell goods produced by Native artists - everything from jewelry, to weaving, to skin sewing to fly fishing ties. He even spoke of bringing in silversmiths. Caum plans on hosting an artist call-out in September and to have the shop open for next summer.

Though he has long-term goals for the tourism industry in Wrangell, Caum said he is focusing on what he can get done in his first 90 days. He is focusing mostly on cruise ships right now, and cleaning up the cultural center and Shakes Island.

WCA has not yet determined if Shakes Island will have regular hours; currently the hours and dance performances are catered toward cruise ships.

Caum is coming out of his second retirement, he said, to help give back to the community.

He served in the military after high school and after retiring from the military wrote and taught photojournalism for the Department of Defense. After that he went into the hospitality and tourism industry where he worked for 20 years before coming back to Wrangell earlier this year.


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