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America Supports You: Brewery Offers Theme Park Admission

By Sgt. 1st Class Doug Sample, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25, 2005 – Dan Hartman's "Free Ride" could be the theme song to the Anheuser-Busch Company's latest offer to the military.

This month, the brewery announced that once again it will open the gates to its SeaWorld, Busch Gardens and Sesame Place theme parks for free as a way of saying thanks to servicemembers and their families.

The company's latest promotion, dubbed "Here's to the Heroes," offers a free single-day admission to servicemembers, including Guardsmen and Reservists, and as many as three "direct dependents," according to Fred Jacobs, senior director for communications at Busch Entertainment Corp.

The offer runs through Dec. 31.

The company has held four similar free-admission programs since the first Gulf War: Yellow Ribbon Summer, Salute to America's Heroes, Operation Salute, and last year's Operation Homecoming.

Jacobs said, "These programs were conceived to acknowledge the men and women who serve our country and preserve freedom and security for every American."

"We benefit only from the sense of satisfaction that our employees across the country get from saying, "Thank you" to our soldiers, sailors, Marines, airmen and Coast Guardsmen."

Jacobs said the company decided on the name "Here's to the Heroes" because, "That is exactly how we view those Americans who have chosen to serve in the armed forces."

Eligible servicemembers can register for free admission online or in the entrance plaza of participating parks, Jacobs said. A Department of Defense photo ID must be presented at the gate before entrance, he added.

Military family members also can take advantage of the offer without their military sponsor; however, an adult must accompany minor children.

Jacobs said the company estimates that more than 1 million servicemembers and their families will visit its parks during the offer, and that nearly 100,000 people have registered already.

The Busch Gardens theme park in Williamsburg, Va.; SeaWorld in San Antonio; and Sesame Place in Langhorne, Pa.; are seasonal operations that open in the spring. The company's SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, both in Florida, and SeaWorld San Diego, are open year-round.

The company has received "thousands of e-mails, phone calls and letters thanking us for recognizing the service and sacrifice of our armed forces," Jacobs said.

"I have had the privilege of responding to many of those notes, and I can tell you from personal experience how gratifying it is," he added.

Anheuser-Busch has a long tradition of supporting the military. In 1921, Lilly Busch, the widow of company founder Adolphus Busch, opened the Busch family garden to the public, donating admission fees to disabled veterans. And over the years the company has supported veterans memorials in Washington, such as the Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The company has also provided scholarship funds for United Service Organizations members and Desert Storm survivors.

In 2003, the company created the Intrepid/Anheuser-Busch Fallen Heroes Fund, donating $1 million in scholarships for spouses and children of servicemembers and coalition personnel killed during the war in Iraq.

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