Vibrant Fall Foliage Bringing Business to CT River Valley – NBC Connecticut

In daydreaming of your daily commute, you may have caught yourself noticing the colors that line the road.

“This year’s foliage is the best I’ve seen in several years,” said Fran Platner of North Granby.

A symphony of color, hugging the rivers, roads and rails all at once, lends added appeal to Connecticut River Valley businesses this time of year.

“It’s very important because we do business. It’s a beautiful town, it’s a beautiful place to visit now, see the leaves,” said Iso Dedushaj, owner of The Gelston House in East Haddam.

On the other side of the shore and further along the tracks, there is another entity which has seen a peak in ridership this fall.

“They’re having a great time and you can’t beat that synergy and that’s what we’ve had all season,” said Kevin Dodd, President and CEO of Essex Steam Train and Riverboat.

The Essex steam train ran at full capacity for the first time in a few years, and among those aboard the No. 40 engine this season were Platner and Carla Thornton.

“It’s a fun part of Connecticut here,” Thornton said.

Platner has done foliage walks in Essex and New Hampshire, so she knows her leaves.

“The foliage here is just as beautiful as it was up there,” Platner said.

But with the influx of customers, The Gelston House and Essex Steam Train faced a different kind of challenge.

“It was very hard. Nobody wants to work,” Dedushaj said.

Normally Dodd is able to hop on and off the Lady Katherine train and riverboat, but this year it was a different story.

“We chose to keep Lady Kate closed this year because consistently finding enough people to ensure we can deliver the experience people expect of us, we couldn’t guarantee that,” Dodd said.

Despite the labor shortage, Dodd said the drop was positive. Now he is focusing on the holidays as they prepare for their busiest time of year.

“We have to take these two weeks in November to get everything ready for Christmas,” he said.

Dodd said tickets for the North Pole Express are already sold out for this holiday season.