How to Choose a Place
Choosing your reunion place can be easy for some but rather complicated for others. Share your experiences; particularly those that you think would be of interest or helpful to others who are organizing reunions. E-mail us.
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North & South: elegant inns cater to reunions
by Jacky Runice
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame is a wonderful intergenerational option entertaining fans of performers as diverse as Lena Horne, Tommy Dorsey, the B-52s and Trisha Yearwood. Thematic exhibits offer plenty of interactive fun, musical artifacts and nostalgia. Hometown boys, the Allman Brothers, have their own shrine here as well as in the magnificent Rosehill Cemetery where Berry Oakley and Duane Allman rest. Make a date with some of the most interesting dead people during one of Phil Comer’s “Rose Hill Rambles” Cemetery Tours (478-742-5001). The native Maconite enchants guests with his breadth of local history knowledge and lore from the Confederate graves to those of the aforementioned rock stars. Halloween ideas, anyone?
Drive a NASCAR simulator, kick the winning field goal and throw the last second TD pass on a football field or shoot hoops at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. In the museum’s theater, you can sit in a stadium of yesteryear or be part of the crowd at old Ponce de Leon Park in Atlanta where the historic Crackers played.
The Georgia Music Hall of Fame, Sports Hall of Fame and the Tubman African American Museum are within walking distance of each other. The Tubman features achievements of great American inventors, artists, writers, musicians, military leaders and more. There will be a new larger Tubman Museum in 2003.
History buffs won’t want to miss the Cannonball House where a Union shell remains after it crashed through the parlor and rolled across the floor in an 1864 attack.
A trolley stop across the street from the 1842 Inn, takes visitors to all of the aforementioned attractions for a mere 25 cents, as well as famed poet Sidney Lanier’s cottage and the historic Douglas Theater where Little Richard and Otis Redding performed in the 1950s. The restored theatre now serves as a state-of-the-art film, performance and meeting venue.
The Macon-Bibb County Convention & Visitors Bureau (800-768-3401) or email at firstname.lastname@example.org can inform reunion planners about “Around-Town Tours,” packaged attractions at up to 25% discount including historic homes, interactive museums and trolley transportation. Thousands of Macon’s acres are National Register Historic Districts. You won’t want to miss National Historic Landmark Hay House, an Italian Renaissance Revival Villa, completed in 1859, featured on A&E's "America's Castles as the Palace of the South.” Ocmulgee National Monument reaches way back 12,000 years ago to Native American life with great earthen mounds, artifacts and dioramas.
Back at the 1842 Inn, the daily hospitality hour lingers from 5:30 to 7 PM. This is the south, so indulge in one of Miss JoAnne’s persuasive mint juleps while younger travelers nibble freshly baked cheese straws, cold chicken salad on crackers or warm artichoke dip. Emma Williamson, another of the Inn’s fine associates, may get the little hairs on the back of your neck to stand at attention with her ghostly experiences in the AAA Four Diamond property. Williamson and JoAnne Dillard are Macon graciousness experts.
Music fans must have dinner at the Tic Toc Room, where Little Richard held court in the early 1960’s. Remember the singer’s “Long Tall Sally?” She was a daughter of the site’s original owner. Today, the restaurant boasts a young chef who does wild and wonderful things with fried green tomatoes, Macon-style crab cakes and other southern delights. Bert’s, on lively Cherry Street, kicks Southern food up a notch with offerings such as “New Southern Grits Cakes (ladled with roasted pepper cream sauce and grilled portobello mushrooms) and an astonishing wine list. For incredibly cheap and down-home barbecue, townsfolk swear by Fincher’s BBQ. A pig (chopped pork) sandwich or a Brunswick stew will set you back $1.83. The restaurant boasts that it was the first BBQ to go in space in the 1989 space shuttle. (Finally, the government making good choices!) Fincher’s caters, too.
The 1842 Inn is a perfectly delicious retreat for groups who want to experience the kindness of strangers. Call 800-336-1842 or mosey over www.1842inn.com especially if you want to visit during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Macon's 270,000 flowering cherry trees are celebrated in the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World each March. The 1842 Inn has a 25 person meeting space, pets are allowed and it is handicap accessible. Y’all come down now, ya hear?
About the author
Journalist/Editor Jacky Runice has penned a weekly travel column for Chicago's Daily Herald since 1994 and writes about travel and dining for USAToday.com; CBS Local Chicago; and Examiner.com. She expands her repertoire at Kane, Lake and McHenry County (IL) Magazines with articles about everything from healthy living to technology. A former Chicago radio talk show host, Jacky has three grown children who have inherited her love of sampling new cultures, countries and cuisine.
A reunion planner's nightmare
by Karen Luna Ray
Every planner's nightmare is the reunion that ends too early. Months of planning culminated and expended in just a few short hours. The reunion site fills early in the day. The air resounds with boisterous greetings and laughing children, giving the reunion planner's heart a boost. "A success!" you think, watching relatives hug, tease and generally enjoy being with one another. Photo albums are passed. Cameras whir as members attempt to capture the essence of the day on film.
Soon it is mealtime. With hunger satisfied, and children off to play, adults enjoy an easy camaraderie. A few older folks begin to tire and slowly take their leave. Then, you look around and wonder what in the world just happened! It is mid-afternoon and all that is left of the reunion is you and the clean-up crew.
Though the devastation can be a bit daunting, there is clearly only one acceptable form of action. Find and fix the problem.
The first time this happened at our family reunion, I got upset. The second time, I was determined to figure out what was wrong. Taking into consideration the good number of members each year, a reunion was obviously desired. So what was wrong?
The reunion site itself was lovely. A covered pavilion with kitchen facilities, restrooms, ample seating and table space set in a grove of pine trees. A sandbox, volleyball court and baseball field were nearby. A creek meandered through the park area with wooden bridges crossing at short intervals.
Our reunions were held each year in June. June in Oklahoma can take your breath away ... literally. The summer sun is hot and the humidity is sometimes horrendous.
As a mother with two young children, I realized that parents with very young children were occupied keeping kids off bridges and out of the creek. For the kids there were no boundaries. Children age five and up love digging for crawdads.
We were losing some older folks as well as younger ones early because of the oppressive heat. Young mothers were exhausted chasing children and children were unhappy because they couldn't do what they wanted.
Our solution was to change the reunion site. We found a church recreation center for family reunions available to rent. It has a kitchen area, ample tables and seating space. There is a fenced play yard for children who wish to brave the heat, and for those who do not, there is indoor skating, volleyball or basketball. Older folks trade off a bit of noise for the air conditioning. They also realize that to keep children interested in family gatherings, there must be something interesting or fun for them. The very young have the run of the place but outdoors is inaccessible without an adult to open the door.
Our new location makes for a relaxed, enjoyable day for everyone. And I no longer find myself standing alone in the middle of the afternoon, wondering what in the world happened.
About the author
Karen Luna Ray is a freelance writer living in Southeastern Oklahoma. Her work has appeared in Reunions Magazine, North American Manx Association Bulletin and various newspapers. She also writes and publishes an occasional Luna family newsletter.
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