When he was a young boy growing up in New Jersey, Steve always wanted to be 3 things: a fireman, a policeman, and a bus driver. He accomplished all of them and more!
Steve became a volunteer EMT with his local fire department while he was still in high school. He worked along side the fire and rescue crew providing on-site emergency and medical care. He enjoyed his work and service immensely, but after graduating high school, he decided to continue his education in college and move on to his next goal of becoming a police officer.
As many know the owner of Blue Ridge Tours Steve Sulligan is a licensed New York City guide and as far as we know, the only such owner of a Tour and travel company in South Carolina to holds that distinction. You ever wonder what it takes to become a licensed tour guide in New York? Well Steve is going to discuss in this blog what he did to receive this distinction.
New York City is such wide and diverse place, and if not really familiar with it a city that cause confusion and issues and therefore quickly turn a school tour into a nightmare or at minimal a poor experience. New York has so much to offer in educational experiences and I wanted to be able to plan our school itineraries with our teachers to give them a wow experience of the city not just a trip to the city. Being born and raised in New Jersey until I was 19 I had a pretty good handle on how to navigate the city , how to get in and out of the city and being in the tour business I wanted to provide a much more thorough experience to trips going to the city and what better way to say you’ve done that than by putting the stamp of approval by the city of New York acknowledging your knowledge and experience of New York.
As I said I always had a pretty good knowledge of New York ,to this day I read the local New York paper The New York Post, I read any and all stories about the city plus I take personal trips to the city a few times of the year and explore in my own. New York touring is like peeling an onion back the more you peel back in the city the more interesting things you learn about its culture , food, architecture and transportation , how to ride the Ferry for free among others.
I decided about 2015 I’d formally go to to take the city test , but I allowed 2 months of intensive studying the deeper more involved part of city history, monuments , roads and streets , food in order to successfully pass the 250 question test..
So on my annual July 4th NJ NYC personal trip my wife Donna and I do every year I set the date with The New York City Department of Consumers who regulates and licensed local city guides for the end of June 2015. I felt I was ready but you never know until you sit down with the test how it will go. As I was staying in New Jersey I set aside an entire morning for the test and traveling into the city. It was hot muggy day I had to catch a local bus to go into the Port Authority Bus Terminal the city’s largest bus terminal , then i took a subway to lower Manhattan I then walked several blocks to the Consumer Affairs office. I was worn out before I began. Then had to go through the cities red tape to register myself then be taken to a testing room where my test would be administered . The proctor told us we’d have a maximum of 3 hours to do the test and it took me almost 2 1/2 hours to finish. Questions were asked in a computer screen ranging from how nyc began with its history, to history of its many neighborhoods in the 5 boroughs to how many commuters travel through Grand Central Terminal on a daily basis to building architecture plus much more. I felt good as I progressed thru the exam and when I finished the proctor graded my answer sheet stating I scored 90 which put a gold star next to my name in the city tour guide registry indicating that based on my test score I am in the upper category as far as city knowledge . For me anybody can study for a test and pass and I was quite proud to have done that in NYC because the ole saying goes ‘if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere’. But to be a good tour guide you have to constantly keep up on current events , current situations that are going on in NYC , politics , sports in order to make Your Tours entertaining, knowledgable and fun. When people leave me I want them to feel that they experienced New York City not just visited it. When you hear that from students and teachers than I know my job was complete.
New York City has so much to offer and as a licensed tour guide and owner of Blue Ridge Tours I want to be sure that every school group who books their tour with us will have that chance to ‘experience , feel NYC not just ride a bus and look out the windshield to view the Big Apple.
Every year we guides are re licensed by the city filling out ethic and background information assuring the city we are maintaining a certain standard of personal background and reliability and ethics. I am proud to know that I have met the level of excellence in being recognized as a licensed NYC tour guide and being able to transfer that into each and every one of Blue Ridge Tours trips we do . Let us know if you would like to receive information about booking your school group a once in a lifetime Tour in NYC!
Many people know the owner of Blue Ridge Tours as the person behind the scenes who personally plans our school trips. Steve loves to take students to New York, and Washington DC.
Steve has a unique past and present in another field, working with students besides taking them on student field trips. He is a retired South Carolina State Trooper having spent over 26 years in law enforcement, and by the way, Blue Ridge Tours went hand in hand with his chosen profession as a State Trooper as Blue Ridge Tours is now in its 30th year of business.
While a state trooper Steve was selected to teach and conducted many safety education classes for the citizens of South Carolina thru the SC Highway Patrol. After his retirement from the Patrol Steve was able to keep his law enforcement commission via annual in-service training and firearms training.
In 2017 Steve was approached by another retired Sergeant from the SCHP who was teaching safety education classes for the SC chapter of the National Safety Council and asked if Steve be interested in attending a certification instructor class in Columbia. Steve was more than glad to get back to his roots of teaching the young drivers of South Carolina and attended the 4-day course to teach Alive at 25.
Alive at 25 is a 4 1/2-hour one day class that is taught to drivers under 25 because statistically speaking this is the age category that suffers the highest rate of fatalities among all drivers. The course requires an active duty or retired police officer to teach because of their vast knowledge of laws and personal experiences of investigating many car crashes and fatalities.
Alive at 25 is an innovative, young driver intervention program that teaches what behaviors and skills are needed to become responsible, crash-free drivers. Developed by the National Safety Council for young drivers between the ages of 15-24, the program aims to help young drivers choose safe driving practices, to take responsibility for their behavior, and to be aware of the typical driving hazards.
The next time you see our owner Steve Sulligan driving one of your student's field trips or leading a tour to remember to say hello.
Steve has worn many hats throughout his life, and the Smokey Bear hat was his favorite, but today we are proud he is teaching high school students how to become a responsible, confident and safe driver thru the National Safety Council Alive at 25. Steve’s favorite quote is “Once a Trooper, Always a Trooper.”