Love at First Sight: New UCEMC Members Star in Tourism Commercials
He rides a Harley Street glide. She rides a Harley Softail Deluxe. Together, Rich and Linda Roherty have the best, safely-distanced seats for leaf-peeking as they cruise the Upper Cumberland on their bikes each weekend. It’s a favorite past time they could comfortably enjoy for only a few months in the brutal winds of their native Chicago. Their travels brought them to Tennessee on vacation in 2018, and just as it was when they met at Northwestern 31 years ago, it was love at first sight. They sold their home, packed their belongings, and headed south.
Hearing them talk about why they relocated to Brush Creek is what tourism commercials are made of. “We talked about good places to retire, central location, weather, activity, and lower taxes, and we decided on Tennessee,” says Linda. “We wanted a healthy location and beautiful scenery. The ridge tops sold me in Brush Creek. The beauty of the area is amazing!” Southern hospitality and an easygoing lifestyle sold Rich on the permanent move. “The surprise was the charm of the people,” he explains. When strangers start talking to you from the Chicago area, you get a little cautious, however here in Tennessee, friendliness is commonplace, and we love it.”
New Neighbors Connect the Dots
The unbridled enthusiasm of these tourists-turned-residents was not lost on Upper Cumberland Tourism Director Ruth Dyal. The search for motorcyclists to star in the commercials prompted Ruth’s friends to arrange a meeting with Ruth and the Rohertys. It turns out they were a perfect choice. They were experienced riders and knowledgeable tourists. Central Casting in Hollywood couldn’t have done a better job. “They’re fit, they’re an attractive couple with those gorgeous bikes, and they truly love the area,” says Ruth. “We’re so glad that their unique tourism experience led them to make their home here in the Upper Cumberland.”
The commercials, billboards, and web ads feature the couple riding their motorcycles along the scenic winding roads and steep grades near the Overlook and Cordell Hull Dam, among other locations. A tourism grant provided funds for production through the federal government’s Cares Act – a stimulus bill passed at the beginning of the pandemic – with the stipulation that the ads include a safety and health message.
A crisp, sunny day, brightly colored leaves, and calm winds gave the production crew a chamber of commerce backdrop. But working outside in the sun means shooting various angles to get everything in exactly the right light on camera. As Linda and Rich learned the hard way, those takes took a toll. “That evening, we were sore and cold,” says Linda. “We had to move the motorcycles for the still shots many times to different positions without the engine on. Moving 700 pounds around can make your legs ache after a while.” Rich was thankful that the professional photographers got many of the shots they needed on the first attempt. ”We had fun, but positioning the heavy motorcycles on an incline wore this guy out,” he adds. “Luckily, we didn’t have many re-takes.”
Starring in a commercial can now be checked off the Rohertys’ bucket list. Still, their promotion of the Upper Cumberland as an ideal place to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle continues for this couple. “If you want to visit or move to the Upper Cumberland and genuinely enjoy a simple, rural life, this is the place to be,” Rich says. “Hiking, fishing, kayaking, and exploring unique towns in the area can be done every weekend.”
Linda says her lifestyle pitch for tourism in the Upper Cumberland can be summed up with one sentence. “This is heaven on earth!”
We agree, Linda and Rich. Welcome to the area, and thank you for your UCEMC membership. Happy trails! The commercials will be featured on the Upper Cumberland Tourism Association website once they’re completed.