by Berl Colley
Jacksonville, Fla., will be a fun place to have ACB's 2006 convention. The city is the largest in land mass in the United States. It covers over 800 square miles, which makes it a little bit bigger than Houston, Texas. There are 841,000 people living there. Water is in abundance in Jacksonville, with the Atlantic Ocean bordering the city to the east and the St. John's River running through the center of town. The convention hotel, the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville-Riverfront, overlooks this river, and ships and yachts dock right out front.
The city is home base for several large insurance companies, an Anheuser-Busch brewery, the Maxwell House coffee company, Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceuticals and the Jacksonville Jaguars, a National Football League team. The Jacksonville Suns baseball team is a double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
There's also music by the river, lots of local eateries in all price ranges, and some great dinner theaters. There are several colleges and universities, interesting museums, deep-sea fishing, local gambling boats, historical tours and much, much more. Best of all, the citizens of Jacksonville will show you what good old Southern hospitality is all about.
Does this sound like a place for some great ACB tours? Yes, Virginia, it is! Our ACB convention tour package for 2006 is one of the most interesting and diverse that I have had the pleasure to put together. I will elaborate in future "Braille Forum" articles, but for right now, here is a quick look at the tours currently planned for the first weekend, July 7, 8 and 9, 2006.
1. We will have a wonderful historical tour to St. Augustine, the oldest organized community in the United States. It was founded in 1565 and existed under several different flags. Learn about the history of the area from a knowledgeable local tour guide. Anecdotal information from the Native American, Spanish, English and U.S.-governed times will be provided. The old fort, the lighthouse, the old schoolhouse and the wishing ponds are some of the places that we hope to visit. This tour will close with some time on St. George Street, a two-block-long promenade, where you will be able to browse in refurbished shops and stores representing the history of the area.
2. We will visit one of the highest-rated minor league baseball stadiums in America to watch the Jacksonville Suns play. Again this year we will be right behind home plate, so that ACB baseball fans can experience the sights and sounds of the game.
3. If we learned anything in Las Vegas, it was that we have one or two ACB members who like to gamble. OK, a lot more than just one or two. It is for these folks, their friends and those who feel that it is their duty to monitor the gambling activities of others that we are scheduling a casino cruise. Yes! Grab your loose change, the family trust and a spare plastic bag and enjoy this five-hour, on-the-water casino experience. Hopefully, upon your return, you will have filled your bag with money that you can spend in the exhibit hall.
4. There will be a special trip for those who like to fish while trolling and who don't mind being in a small boat on the high seas. Each boat will take six fishermen and you will be on the ocean for four hours.
5. Of course, we will have our Saturday and Sunday morning city tours of Jacksonville. A knowledgeable docent from the area will board our bus and fill this three-hour tour with historical information, point out special sites and tell some interesting stories about the city's best-known citizens.
There it is, a snapshot of ACB tours on the first weekend of next year's convention. And there's more to come, so watch future issues of "The Braille Forum" for more details.
Plan NOW to be in Jacksonville. The first tours happen on July 7, and convention week will be packed with workshops, exhibits, information, tours, and fun! The hotel is easy to get around, the food in the hotel and in the restaurants along the river is wonderful, the convention will be educational, and the tours will be great! Convention week will close on July 15 and send you home with lots of great memories. Room rates are $79 per night plus tax (single, double, triple, and quad). Make reservations by calling 1-800-233-1234 or (904) 588-1234.