"Gold Star Military Families to Light Up the Caverns with Golden Anniversary Wishes as Natural Bridge Caverns Celebrates 50th Anniversary of Opening to the Public on Thursday, July 3, 2014

WHAT: Natural Bridge Caverns will celebrate the 50th anniversary of opening to the public on Thursday, July 3 with Gold Star military families from the local area. To commemorate its golden anniversary, the Caverns will host the group for a day of family fun. The families will receive complimentary admission to the attraction that day as well as season passes for future visits. Gold Star families have lost a family member during military service.

During the anniversary ceremonies, which begin at 10:30 a.m., the Wuest family, owners and developers of the Caverns, will receive the Texas Treasure Business Award, which recognizes the accomplishments of Texas businesses that have provided employment opportunities and support of the state’s economy for at least 50 years. Natural Bridge Caverns is a third generation family-owned and operated attraction. Founded by Clara Wuest Heidemann, Harry Heidemann and Reggie Wuest, the caverns lie under the Wuest Ranch, a fifth generation working ranching operation that has been in the family since 1884. After the outdoor ceremony, Gold Star families will join the Wuest family in the Caverns for a special anniversary greeting.

One of the world’s premiere show caves, Natural Bridge Caverns is a State Historical Site, National Natural Landmark and listed in the Natural Register of Historic Places.

WHEN: Thursday, July 3. 10:30 a.m.

WHERE: Natural Bridge Caverns, 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road

VISUALS AND INTERVIEWS:

At 10:30 a,m, the anniversary ceremony begins next to the historic natural bridge after which the Caverns are named. State Senator Donna Campbell and State Representative Doug Miller will present the Texas Treasure Business Award to the Wuest family.

The anniversary light-up of the Caverns, which begins immediately after the outdoor ceremony, will make outstanding visuals. The Oakwood Baptist Church Choir will be at the bottom of the Jeremy Room, 120 feet below the surface. More than 60 individuals representing Gold Star families will line the walkway from the entrance carrying golden glow sticks. As a surprise salute to the families, the choir will sing “God Bless The USA,” before leading the families in singing happy anniversary wishes to the Wuest family.

The anniversary light up in the Jeremy Room offers great footage of the Caverns awesome natural beauty-- towering stone formations, glistening delicate soda straws and waves of colorful cave ribbon.

Brad Wuest, Natural Bridge Caverns President and CEO, and Travis Wuest, Vice President, and Joye Wuest, CFO, be available for interviews.

NATURAL BRIDGE CAVERNS In March of 1960, four college students from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio discovered the Caverns after receiving permission from the family to explore what was thought to be a small cave. Clara Wuest Heidemann took the gamble of her life and risked all the family had to secure a loan to develop the cavern passages into the attraction that it is today. The attraction includes the original Discovery Tour and four other tours offering unique ways to see Natural Bridge Caverns as well as the Canopy Challenge, one of Texas’ largest ropes courses and zip lines.

The 50th anniversary celebration began in March with a major expansion that made the new Discovery Village the center of the site. Included in Discovery Village are Discovery Pavilion, a new gathering point for tours overlooking the historic natural bridge for which the Caverns are named; Discovery Village Trading Post, full of beautiful rocks and minerals from around the world, jewelry and unique gifts; the AMAZEn' Ranch Roundup, one of the state's only year-round, outdoor mazes; and Big Daddy's Sweets, Treats and Brew, an old-fashioned candy and general store named after Caverns founder and developer Harry Heidemann, who loved his sweets, treats and brew! Discovery Village also is the new home of the Mining Company, Texas’ largest mining sluice.

Natural Bridge Caverns is located at 26495 Natural Bridge Caverns Road just south of New Braunfels. The Caverns open at 9 a.m. daily. Please visit www.naturalbridgecaverns.com for ticket prices and closing times.

Media Contact: Shirley Wills

shirley@thewoodagency.com

Contact: Travis Wuest

Phone: (210) 651-6101