August 29 – September 2 (Labor Day/Southern Decadence Weekend) Last year was the first year that we that had to cancel a conference due to a hurricane.This year we are playing the odds and giving New Orleans have one more shot. So we are welcoming everyone back to NOLA for the 2013 ACB Meetup. We also will have a contingency plan in place should there be another hurricane bearing down on New Orleans on Labor Day weekend.
We are planning a picnic on Saturday at Audubon Park. Look for the banner from the Houston Conference. After the picnic you can explore the city on your own or form an impromptu group. Later that evening there will be a group heading down to the French Quarter for Southern Decadence. On Sunday we will meet in smaller groups for lunch and dinner. We will also take a tour of the city and probably return to the French Quarter for another round of Southern Decadence.
We are also planning a few new things this year including a souvenir exchange, photo contest, and a short "it gets better" video. All of the events are optional but I think they could be fun.
For the souvenir exchange bring something unique, less than $20 value, that represents the city you came from. It could be a pin, a book, a box of candy, something that represents you or your hometown. At the end of the weekend anyone who want to participate will get together and exchange their souvenirs.
For the photo contest there will be two categories. One for the best shot of New Orleans and best shot of a person at the conference. The winners will receive a free dinner while in New Orleans. If they have to leave early then we will send them a $25 gift card through the mail. The photos can be taken using anything: phone, camera, iPod, etc. Then upload them to the Facebook page for the meetup. At the end of the weekend the photo with the most likes in each category will be the winner. For the best shot of a person make sure they know that their picture is being taken and that you plan to upload it to Facebook. If someone is uncomfortable or does not want their picture taken please do not force the issue. Many time at the meetups there are people who have not told their families about their sexuality please respect that. We want everyone to be comfortable and enjoy themselves.
For the "it gets better" video I am planning on using my camera to get short clips of people saying how their life is better now that they are free from the religion. We can get these clips from all over New Orleans. I hope that this will show people who are afraid to leave the we are not weeping or gnashing our teeth and that there is life after the JWs.
Since this is happening during a very large gay event you should book you plane tickets and hotel soon. As of the beginning of April round trip air fare from Chicago to New Orleans was approximately $375-$400. Hotel rooms for the weekend were available from $100 and up per night depending on amenities. Use your favorite travel search engine, I prefer Kayak, and set up an alert to email you daily or weekly with travel deals.
We recommend staying in the Garden District near St. Charles Avenue. But you could also stay in the Central Business District or the French Quarter. However due to Southern Decadence the longer you wait to book a hotel, especially near the French Quarter, the more expensive your rooms will be.
The St. Charles Streetcar line runs 24/7 every 10 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes in the early morning hours. This streetcar line runs from Audubon Park to the edge of the French Quarter. Single rides are $1.25 and a 3-day unlimited Jazzy pass is $9. There are also plenty of taxis available.
Labor Day weekend is also Southern Decadence in New Orleans. According to
“Southern Decadence started forty-one years ago as a simple going-away party. As a top gay Labor Day Weekend destination, it has evolved into one of our world’s major annual events. One of the largest annual celebrations and festivals in New Orleans, it has become known as the “Gay Mardi Gras.” People begin to arrive on the Wednesday before Labor Day, and generally don’t even think about stopping or going home until the following Tuesday. With over 100,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender participants, and an economic impact estimated to be in excess of $125 million, the city has recognized the festival’s importance with an Official Proclamation to welcome the event.”
From nature to parties there should be something in New Orleans for everyone. I hope to see everyone there.