With only a year left until the 15th Sons of the Desert International Convention takes place in Harlem, event organizers are getting ready to push their plans into high gear at an August meeting.
The crystal pineapple currently on display at the Laurel and Hardy Museum in Harlem stays at the site of the next Sons of the Desert convention.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Harlem's Laurel and Hardy appreciation society, the Berth Marks Tent, was tapped to play host to the convention in July 2006. The convention, named after the 1933 Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy film Sons of the Desert, is the largest worldwide to honor the early 1900s comedic duo.
Denise Carter, the Berth Marks Tent grand sheik, said out-of-town visitors who have volunteered to assist with convention planning will arrive for the Aug. 20-21 meeting at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel Augusta, which also will serve as the convention's hub.
"We're going to take everyone at the planning session on our version of a downtown train ride," said Carter, adding that the trip will show visitors all there is to do in downtown Augusta.
"We're planning on showing them a good time."
The itinerary for the convention has already been compiled, but the meeting is designed to send planners into organizational mode, which Carter said involves assigning each task to a volunteer.
"We've got a lot of people who have offered to help, and they are doing it," Carter said. "They have got their little piece of the pie that they are going to be responsible for. And with all those people pulling together and helping us, that's how we are going to pull this off."
The convention itinerary includes Laurel and Hardy-themed events such as a Battle of the Century re-enactment, Them Thar Hills homecoming and parade, a Way Out West trip to Stone Mountain Park, a Laurel and Hardy Mystery Dinner Theatre and Sons of the Desert banquet and luau.
The convention is held every two years and often attracts Laurel and Hardy fans from throughout the world. After presenting an itinerary of events for the four-day convention, Carter said she and other presenters were given the crystal pineapple - a symbol that joins Harlem with a long list of big cities worldwide to have played host to the convention.
Hardy was born in Harlem in 1892. Each year, the city celebrates its most famous son with an Oliver Hardy Festival, The city also has a museum in honor of Hardy and his comedic partner.
The Augusta Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau predicts next year's convention in Harlem will bring at least 350 people to the Augusta area.
Robin Root, a Harlem city councilwoman who serves as chairwoman of the city's Industry, Trade and Tourism Department, said she hopes the convention will draw more attention to all that Harlem has to offer visitors.
"It (the city) is like a little package that nobody wants to open, but it's the best package in the world," said Root, who also is a member of the Oliver Hardy Festival planning committee and the Berth Marks Tent.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.