By Don Moore, F154921
If you missed FMCA’s 75th International Convention in Pomona, California, held Monday, March 20, through Thursday, March 23, you missed a great celebration. The number of family coaches attending our “Celebrating Family” convention was 2,892, and we had 1,375 commercial coaches, for a total of 4,267.
Although the weather was cool and damp on the first few days, it improved each day, and the last two days were ideal. Attendees didn’t let the weather bother them, and volunteers didn’t let it keep them from their assigned duties. I’m very proud of each of the volunteers for keeping such a good spirit to make this a great convention. Thanks, volunteers!
I also would like to thank Tony Vincent, F161584, national vice president, Western Area, and his wife, Betty, for hosting the convention. They were in charge of recruiting the hundreds of volunteers from the Western Area who helped put on our event. Thanks to everyone for doing a great job.
On the Sunday prior to the convention, activities were available for everyone. An interfaith service was held at 9:30 a.m., led by FMCA chaplain Len Bunts, F139872, with music provided by the singing duo Dave & Daphne. Later that evening a flag presentation titled “One Nation under God” was offered. The program, which is produced and directed by Woody and Jeannie Miller, F233882, begins with the Pilgrims, marches through numerous armed conflicts that have involved the United States, and culminates with veterans of all branches of the military presenting today’s version of the Stars and Stripes. FMCA volunteers dressed in period clothing presented 36 flags, each accompanied by a corresponding story. This program was attended by a huge crowd. If you haven’t seen it, you should, if you get the chance.
Monday began the big celebration. The “President’s Forum” started at 9:00 a.m., followed by the “Orientation for First-Time Attendees” at 10:30 a.m. Typically, about one-third of the convention-goers are first-time attendees. This convention was no exception. We wanted to try something different at this convention to make our first-timers feel welcome and eager to return to future conventions. The orientation was well attended, and a reception immediately followed. In addition, special seating was reserved for all first-time attendees on the first night of entertainment. And before entertainment began, we played some fun games, giving away “Funny Money,” also known as Convention Cash, that first-timers could spend at participating vendors. Convention Cash was also given to members each day of the event, just to reward them for having fun.
… And future chapter members
Chapter Fair held in Pomona involved 60 chapters, and representatives did their level best to attract more members by setting up a fun or fascinating table display. Many people perused the fair, looking around for a chapter that might interest them, and I’m sure quite a few joined. The Holiday Rambler International, Southwestern Bus Nuts, and Beaver Ambassador Club chapters received special recognition for their display efforts.
Each day of the convention was filled with informational and educational seminars; crafts; and events such as a Red Hat Tea for the ladies. The coach display area opened Monday afternoon and indoor vendors sold their wares from Tuesday through Thursday. Each morning the Frustrated Maestros played for everyone’s enjoyment during coffee hour. They also played during the ice cream social. Daytime entertainment each day was enjoyed by many at the Foretravel Daytime Entertainment stage, even though it was chilly outside. This entertainment included Dave & Daphne, Willie & Company, Calypso Compromise, Punch & Judy, Bernie & Red, Flakey the Magic Clown, and the Dave McKelvy Trio. On Monday evening we enjoyed a big-band dance with Deb Wagner and the Girls of Swing. Square dancing and line dancing led by Howard Cowles, L18517, was held on Sunday evening and Tuesday and Wednesday mornings.
Evening entertainment was great. On Tuesday we enjoyed “A Family of Entertainers Reunion” featuring three different acts, all of whom had once performed at a Disney theme park “” The Rhythm Brothers, Dick Hardwick, and Arthur Duncan “” all accompanied by the Johnny Vana Orchestra. On Wednesday evening Debbie Reynolds brought back memories, as she sang songs we all remember and told us stories about her life and work. And on Thursday evening Bobby Vinton was enjoyed by all as he sang songs and also involved some members of the audience in the show. He had two of his children with him. His son directed the band, played guitar, and sang, and his daughter was a backup singer and also performed some solo tunes.
I would classify this convention as one of the best. Pomona is a great facility and provides hard-surface parking for everyone. FMCA members seemed to be in a good mood and were there to enjoy all the activities with family and friends.
I want to thank Jerry Yeatts, Director of Conventions and Commercial Services; the office staff who travel to work at these events; and the staff who work back in Cincinnati during the event. And again, let’s not forget all the many volunteers who make each convention successful.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines!
Make plans to attend FMCA’s 76th International Convention at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, in Charlotte/Concord, North Carolina. The dates for this grand convention will be August 14 through 17, 2006, with family parking days beginning on Saturday, August 12.
This is a new experience for FMCA, as this is the first time we’ve held a convention at a speedway. If you are a NASCAR fan, you’ll be excited to learn that several famous drivers have their garages in this area, and some are open to the public.
Approximately 7,000 motorhome parking spaces have been planned on the Lowe’s Motor Speedway property to accommodate the record-breaking attendance we expect for this convention. The farthest parking space is approximately 1 mile from the center of the infield, the hub of the action for the convention.
Although FMCA will be using a clear-span structure for indoor exhibits, convention attendees will be able to shop in air-conditioned comfort in this facility. Some, but not all, seminars will be located in air-conditioned facilities.
Early-bird registration, which saves you $20 off the gate registration, is available until July 24. Register now by calling the national office at (800) 543-3622 and asking for the Convention Services Department; going online at FMCA.com; or mailing or faxing in the registration form that appears on page 96 of this issue of the magazine, right next to the ad that provides more details. In any case, get ready to take the “Fast Track To Fun” and join us in this beautiful part of the country. Until then, happy trails.