by Carla Ruschival

The Hyatt Regency Riverfront is the home of ACB's 45th annual convention, to be held July 8 through 15 in Jacksonville, Fla.

When you arrive at the hotel, the first thing you notice is how easy it is to get around. Convention registration and general sessions are on the second floor, exhibits and afternoon meetings are on 3, and many mixers are on 4. The exit to the main guide dog relief area is just steps from the elevator bank on the lobby level.

The Hyatt has three food outlets, all off the lobby. The River Cafe is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sandwiches and pizza are available at the bar, and Plaza III is open for lunch and dinner. M.J. Schmitt discovered Plaza III's great meatloaf and mashed potatoes (available for lunch), and I can tell you that their chicken-fried chicken (similar to a country-fried steak) is yummy, too.

But the convenience inside the hotel doesn't begin to compare to the unique beauty of this convention site. Step outside and discover that the Hyatt is located on the banks of the St. John's River. Cross the street (there's not much traffic) and stroll along the brick river walk to The Landing with its many indoor and outdoor entertainment, shopping and dining opportunities; there's no streets to cross along the way. When I was at the midyear meeting, I enjoyed swordfish at a steak and seafood restaurant, veal at an Italian restaurant, and the most delicious (and messy) ribs at the American Cafe -- all at the Landing. Margarine Beaman told me about the delicious (and inexpensive) Thai chicken and vegetables she found at the food court for lunch; she said there was a non-spicy option, so I will probably try it out.

Take a break from all the convention bustle. There's always a breeze along the river, and the beautiful sunsets, light displays along the bridges, and peaceful river combine to provide a relaxing place to sit and talk after a busy day. You'll find convenient benches along the river walk between the hotel and the Landing.

Not enough to do yet? Take the water taxi to the other side of the St. John's, where there are more restaurants and fun things to do.

Every ACB convention is packed to overflowing with exhibits, workshops, seminars, tours and socials. It's your chance to feast on new ideas and new information. Learn about the latest adaptive technology; get career tips and network with others in your chosen field; gain useful tips and techniques for home, work and play.

Every ACB convention is also unique. In Jacksonville, we are only 20 minutes from the ocean. Visit beautiful historic St. Augustine for the pre-convention tour (Friday, July 7); go on a deep-sea fishing expedition (Sunday, July 9); and set sail for great food, entertainment and gambling fun on either Saturday (the 8th or the 15th). See "Get on the Bus" by Berl Colley, our tour coordinator extraordinaire, in this issue for more details.

ACB conventions are family-friendly, too. Kids love our Youth Activity Center. YAC coordinator Patti Cox has a week full of fun planned, and she's just waiting for the kids to show up. In addition to the usual swimming, crafts and games, kids 6 and up will spend Tuesday at Adventure Landing featuring a water park, miniature golf, laser tag, go-carts, and an arcade. On Wednesday they'll ride a water taxi to the science museum, and on Thursday the YAC is going bowling. They'll end their week of fun with a grand finale on Friday evening while the grown-ups attend the ACB banquet.

Make plans right now to join ACB in Jacksonville for an incredible convention! Hotel rates are $79 per night plus tax (single, double, triple or quad). Make reservations by calling 1-800-233-1234 or (904) 588-1234.

Convention Reminders

All groups, organizations and companies planning to exhibit, advertise or host an event at the 2006 ACB convention should be in touch with the convention committee. To reserve exhibit space, contact Michael Smitherman at (601) 366-5523 or by e-mail at [email protected] To learn more about ACB's new and exciting advertising and sponsorship opportunities, contact Brenda Dillon at (615) 874-1223 or by e-mail at [email protected] To plan events, contact Carla Ruschival at (502) 897-1472 or by e-mail at [email protected]

If you have problems with hotel reservations or have other special convention needs, contact Carla Ruschival (phone number and e-mail above). While we cannot promise that we can solve every problem, we can promise that we will make every attempt to help you have a fantastic convention experience.

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