Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie And The American Family Reunion
American culture is ever changing with it’s unmatched diversity of people and their customs. Many will argue Football has surpassed Baseball as the favorite pastime and the Hamburger is the most popular in fast (American) food; but it remains hard to argue against Apple Pie being inherently American.
Which brings up the focus of this article, the American Family Reunion is one of the fastest growing traditions in the USA. Polls indicate more than 200,000 families of 50 or more persons will hold reunions this year. Most Reunions (57%) are organized to keep people in touch; while (30%) want children to learn about their family heritage.
Typically Reunions start on Friday and last through Sunday, though some families stay longer, One whole week is not unusual; especially when family members must travel long distances longer stays make the trip worthwhile. In some cases families will rent out entire hotels for the duration of the reunion. In 1990 the Cincinnati visitors bureau estimated that 200,000 people at the black family reunion in the city spent an average of 93.00 per person, bringing in some 18.6 million dollars to the area. Pamela Gilbert, director of sales with a Holiday Inn in Orlando Florida said We expect 2,000 to 3,000 room nights this summer, at about 60.00 per night, would come to 150,000. Marc Michaelson of Motel 6 said for the last 2 summers 20 percent of the companies advertising budget has been targeted at family reunions.
In 1986 the National Council of Negro Women organized a celebration weekend with activities coupled with Family Reunions, the aim was to strengthen black families and emphasize tradition and culture. Originally started in Washington D.C. , the event has expanded to seven cities : Washington, Philadelphia, Chicago, Los Angeles, Cincinnati, Memphis and Atlanta. More than 6 million people have attended these events from 1986 to 1992.
Indiana Black Expo (IBE) of Indianapolis, Indiana has become a pillar of the central Indiana community for 38 years. IBE boasts the largest African American event in the nation, it is a Summer Celebration with over 300,000 people in attendance. Summer Celebration stretches over an 11 (eleven) day period. Events and programs include: business workshops, health and wellness, employment opportunities and entertainment such as talent contests, boxing tournaments, celebrity and local entertainment. This event has become a real mecca for many Family Reunion planners in the USA.
Many families are creating their own expo’s of events and activities, using today’s technology to create web sites with a online newsletter and registration. Some Reunions have organized family chapters, family officers and by laws. Others have formed Family Reunion foundations.
While strengthening family bonds remain high priority, families are filling other needs like awarding college scholarships and hosting health fairs with free screenings to family members. Some Families are using DNA testing to trace and validate their ancestors.
Family reunions have become more than back yard cookout at Aunt DeShields house. Today they have become more organized, and furthermore recognized for their economic contribution in America. “Yes family reunions are more popular than ever according to a survey from the American Society of Travel Agents and http://Vacation.com. Families want to spend time with loved ones and creat new family tradition at Family Reunions.
Family Reunions are a great opportunity to savor history, mend fences and build bridges. Surely, the ability to understand the past has a lesson for all of us. America is in the midst of a Family Reunion boom. People are searching for and finding who they are, while embracing and celebrating their culture. Families gathering together celebrating their roots and ancestors and encouraging each other while facing todays challenges. “When you know where you come from, it’s easier to see where your going”.