by Cynthia Towers, ACB Convention Coordinator

A lion at the MGM Grand Lion Habitat sleeps up to 20 hours a day -- although the constant tapping on the windows keeps them up on busy weekends! You won't be sleeping much when you attend this year's national convention July 2-9 in Las Vegas at the Riviera Hotel and Casino.

By the time this issue reaches you, the convention will be just three short months away. Plans for youth activities, exhibits, meetings, tours and the like are fast approaching the finalization stage as ACB prepares to have one of its largest conventions ever. Affiliate agendas have been pouring in as program chairs work to make certain that they provide their members with fun, fulfilling and fabulous information. If the e-mails I have been receiving are any indication, this convention will host many new attendees from around the country as well as the world. I have received e-mails from Canada, Japan, England and Australia, inquiring about everything from A to Z.

The Riviera has 2,136 rooms and 150 suites. Conveniently located on the Las Vegas Strip, the hotel features one of the world's largest casinos. It offers five unique specialty restaurants, Mardi Gras Food Court with 10 food outlets, full service wedding chapel, recreational facilities, show lounge and more than 30 specialty shops and services. I almost forgot -- it also has a huge outdoor pool. While there are still plenty of rooms in the ACB reservation group, you do not want to wait until the last minute to ensure that you are placed in either the Monaco or Monte Carlo Towers. The Monaco Tower is 24 stories high and has a selection of larger comfortable rooms featuring 942 deluxe guest rooms. The Monte Carlo Tower is 15 stories high and has 229 deluxe rooms, 14 petite suites and two floors of penthouse suites. This is the tower in which President Gray will reside. These are the two closest towers to the meeting room areas.

As in past years, ACB will offer a quick breakfast and lunch service. It will be grab-and-go type meals with items priced separately. You will need to pay cash for these items, but it will be conveniently located in the midst of the ballroom and other meeting rooms and can serve as a location to catch up with someone or just sit and enjoy your meal. It will remain open after breakfast and a bit past the lunch rush to serve soft drinks, hot beverages and snacks. The ballroom will once again be set with tables so attendees can more easily take notes, bring in food and generally have more space per person.

Speaking of meals, the hotel does have a buffet and other restaurants. More than 80 percent of visitors to Las Vegas indulge in buffets -- that's 29 million buffets per year! Once outside the hotel there is a plethora of eateries. Do you like shrimp? Well, shrimp consumption in Las Vegas is more than 60,000 pounds a day -- higher than the rest of the country combined. That's 22 million pounds per year! Any type of food that exists can be found in Vegas and at any time of the day or night.

So there you have it. All you need now is a plane ticket and you will be set to be a part of what is shaping up to be an exciting time, one not to be missed. Carol Ewing and the local host committee are in constant contact with me to guarantee that they do not overlook any detail that could make your stay more enjoyable. Thank you, Carol and the Nevada Council of the Blind!!!

Before I end this article, I would be remiss if I did not mention the tremendous loss ACB has experienced in the recent passing of Jim Olsen. From my days as assistant convention coordinator, to national secretary to convention coordinator, Jim was the one person I could count on for answers to all those millions of questions that I had to have answered. He was not only of great service to ACB but was a great husband, dad and granddad. I think what I will miss most are those silly Norwegian jokes he would tell almost every time I would call his office. Jim is now watching over us and probably glad he does not have to do one more budget report. Keep an eye on us, Jim, and we will see you again soon.

But long before then I hope to see many of you in Las Vegas this summer. To make your reservations, you may call the hotel directly at 1-800- 634-6753. Be sure to mention that you are with the American Council of the Blind to receive the $77 rate. If you would like to contact me, you may do so by e-mailing [email protected] or by calling me on my toll-free line at 1- 800-474-3029 x00. You must hit the 0 twice. Have a great beginning of spring. Viva Las Vegas!!!

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