Some observations about the activities that evening:
1. All the IAHA directors got dressed up. The men wore nice suits and the one lady on the board wore a red dress that really liked her. This was the most professional board appearance I can recall.
2. The dinner that evening was the first time I can remember IAHA serving a hot meal to the attendees. The dinner seemed to be well-received by those in attendance. Members got to eat for free. Non-member guests (like my wife) and walk-ins paid 25 bucks to eat. IAHA seems to have learned that if youíre going to provide a quality product (i.e. the buffet dinner) you should charge accordingly.
3. IAHA was smart enough to set aside high-top tables for those attendees who didnít want to shell out 25 bucks for food, but who did want to grab a few drinks from the cash bars and be on hand for the proceedings. All the tables, drink-only and dinner guests, in this double-room on the convention centerís lowest level seemed to be fairly full.
4. At a few points during the evening I happened to walk by certain tables and see the script for the eveningís activities lying on the tables. I confess: I found surreptitious ways to hover over these documents for a moment or two without looking obvious to others. What I saw was one of the most detailed scripts for a large meeting that Iíve seen in a long time. The meeting was scheduled to conclude at 9 PM, and my recollection is that they met this mark.
The IAHA remains an organization still struggling to break out of its decade-long image as a special interest group, but not a strong spokesperson, of the haunt community. However, the past two years have been the most productive and peaceful ones in the organizationís history.
Of course things could blow sky-high at any moment. Yet the board of directors we members have right now contains several people who have held office for multiple years. Longevity in political office might not always be a good thing, but for a non-profit organization still trying to find its own way in the world longevity gives us members some sense of commitment and stability.
The rest of my time in Vegas was spent on Vegas stuff. The Hoover Dam Tour took up most of Thursday. The remainder was spent in bars, restaurants, and walking around and through many of the sights and resorts on the Strip.
Las Vegas is a great place to visit, but it is not an inviting site for haunters who relish the company of other haunters. To be sure, I met many haunters from the western part of the country on the convention floor. Some of them commented that they had never attended the Chicago versions of TransWorld because of the distance and expense.
But with so many other entertainment activities competing for oneís attention, the substantial travel and hotel costs, and no centralized meeting place for haunters to socialize, I doubt if I would ever return to Vegas for future TransWorld shows. There was no costume ball, a staple of Ironstock, MHC, HauntCon, and other haunt conventions, for attendees to dress up and whoop it up. Nor were there private in-room parties at the hotels, the Crazy Bob Social, and the Haunterís Pavilion.
It has been my experience that most haunters donít need a lot of glitz and glamour to have a good time. What they do seem to thrive on is a centralized spot (like the Crowne Centerís lounge area in Chicago) where they can hang out, drink a few adult beverages and yak about haunting morning, noon and night. On the other hand, Vegas encourages you to gamble all the time. Itís true - there are slot machines everywhere.
In 2009, the TransWorld show will return to Chicago in mid-January instead of March. Sure, it will be cold and snowy then. (Big deal - we suffer through the same kind of weather here in Cleveland.) But if the vendor community needs the extra time to manufacture their wares, then we will all have to adjust to their schedule.
I will attend several regional haunt conventions this summer, and have already firmed up much of my acting/consulting schedule for the coming fall. Iím confident that 2008 will be a devilishly delightful year of haunted activities for me and, I hope, for you.
Very truly yours,
Rex B. Hamilton
13939 Clifton Boulevard
Lakewood, Ohio 44107-1462