Alcoholics Anonymous Holds Record-Breaking 60th Anniversary Convention
According to a convention and meeting trade publication, 60,000 people from 89 countries attended a conference celebrating the 60th anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous in June, the largest convention ever held in San Diego (Mary Schmidt, "Partying AA Style," Associations and Meetings, October 1995, p. 30).
This meeting was the group's tenth international conference. The theme of the three-day conference was "AA Everywhere -- Anywhere." Speeches and personal testimonies were simultaneously translated into five languages and were transmitted by personal receivers.
Although no alcohol was sold (usually a big money-maker for conferences), the attendees bought plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages. In the first two days, the San Diego Convention Center (one of the three main venues for the conference) sold $325,000 in food and beverages and 121,000 cups of coffee. Organizers even recruited twenty Marines from a local base to help with the food preparation.
To transport people to and from the many conference sites, organizers arranged a network of 470 buses. For the duration of the conference, the AA buses made up the third largest city transportation system in North America after New York's and Chicago's.
The Marriott Hotel-Marina, another of the main conference sites, had to make some renovations to handle the number of people in their facility. The hotel replaced most of the lobby furniture with high tables so people could stand and eat, and set up "satellite" food sales booths around the building. "These people ate and drank like crazy," said Marriott's Director of Convention Services Chris Sullivan.
The AA international conventions have been held every five years since 1950, with the next one in Minneapolis in 2000.
[For more information about AA, contact AA World Services at 475 Riverside Drive, New York, New York, 10115, 212-870-3400.]