by Jim Jirak
The most famous place to celebrate Mardi Gras in the United States is in the city of New Orleans. But it is not the only place to go for a carnival atmosphere. Mardi Gras tradition is strongest in America where French and/or Catholic communities settled. The popularity of the New Orleans' Mardi Gras party atmosphere has also meant that many big cities and communities throughout the U.S. now celebrate Mardi Gras as a way of getting through the last cold days of winter and looking forward to spring.
While Mobile, Ala. has the oldest Mardi Gras, St. Louis claims to have the biggest Mardi Gras event outside of New Orleans. Soulard is St. Louis' best known Mardi Gras party. But there are a number of other balls and parades that take place all over St. Louis when it's Mardi Gras time.
It is the backdrop of St. Louis' Gateway Arch that saw the culmination of the collaborative efforts of several Midwestern states to launch a successful leadership training in August 2011. Dubbed the ABC's of ACB Leadership, each agenda item worked around this theme and provided a cohesive and meaningful conference experience.
Building on the momentum of this conference and the successful national leadership training held at the 2012 ACB conference and convention in Louisville, Ky., several individuals from the states of Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska and Oklahoma have gotten together to discuss having another Midwest conference Mardi Gras weekend in 2014. The host hotel is the Hyatt Regency St. Louis at the Arch, 315 Chestnut St. Room reservations are now available and can be made online at https://resweb.passkey.com/go/MidwestLeadership or by calling 1-888-421-1442. The conference dates are Feb. 28-March 2, and the group rate is $99 plus tax.
This time, we are reaching beyond the Midwest to invite affiliates and people who could possibly benefit. Please begin thinking about who would benefit most from a program such as this. Guidelines for consideration include, but are not limited to, having a scholarship winner who has expressed genuine interest in and follow-through with projects. Perhaps you, or board members, are new and need to share the experiences of others.
The festivities begin Friday, Feb. 28 with an icebreaker. Some of the topics being discussed Saturday, March 1 include running an effective meeting, protocol and etiquette, membership recruitment and retention, legislative advocacy, fund-raising, and public relations. We will conclude with a Saturday evening banquet.
If you're looking for a singularly effective means of increasing affiliate membership, training tomorrow's leaders, improving the ability of current leaders, and creating a vibrant, active and empowered state affiliate, look no further than ACB's leadership training seminars. If you have further questions, would like to help in the plenary process, or need more information about the conference in general, please contact the committee at [email protected], or Jim Jirak by calling the ACB of Nebraska Omaha chapter's Share-A-Fare line at (402) 827-9814.
When you mention Mardi Gras in St. Louis, many Missourians think of Soulard, home to one of the largest Mardi Gras celebrations outside of New Orleans. The Soulard festivities last for weeks, ending on Fat Tuesday. And while the Midwest Leadership Conference's festivities won't last indefinitely, it is hoped the knowledge, wisdom and benefits gained help to create "tomorrow's leaders today."