I am a member of AARP. However, I am not very involved and have never been very involved in the association. I have never taken advantage of most of their offers and opportunities.
But in saying that, I have very recently begun to attend their yearly convention. I went to Las Vegas in 2009; Orlando last year; Los Angeles this year and next year, I hope to make it to New Orleans. And these conventions are wonderful! They are held in very interesting and exciting large cities, always at the convention center. All of the convention centers have been beautiful architectural spaces — works of art all by themselves.
Many persons I know are, for one reason or another, very unhappy with AARP. Some have chosen to drop their membership and others do not care to belong. I have heard many arguments against AARP. Myself, I am a moderate person who is very neutral about AARP.
But one thing that I am not neutral or moderate about is AARP’s yearly convention. I give it high marks. To be sure, it is not perfect. There is often some confusion and hiccups. Things do not always go as planned but that happens whenever you travel and / or attend a large function such as a convention.
The convention is well attended. I have met people from all over The United States as well as some from outside of The United States. Attendees are very friendly, upbeat and usually enjoying themselves. There is a good attitude at the convention. People are having fun. You will be meeting new people making new friends and having some very interesting conversations.
There is usually a meet and greet the day or evening before the convention officially opens. In Orlando, it was at Universal Studios and in Los Angeles, it was at Los Angeles Center Studios — the very studio where Mad Men films.
Well known celebrities open the AARP Convention as well as close the convention. There is a mini-film festival often premiering movies that have not yet made the theaters. You’re getting to see some movies first. And to add to the excitement, some films are attended by actors, writers or directors involved in the movie. Sometimes there are comments by these persons before the movies while others times there is a question and answer session after the movie.
There are classes, discussions, exhibits, and lectures on numerous topics. Some are very helpful and others very entertaining. Some are both. I always learn something. You are not going to get bored. There is going to be more than enough to do and, in fact, you will have to make choices.
AARP stand for American Association For Retired Persons but you do not have to be retired to join or come to the convention. In fact, just the opposite. At the Convention Center, there is a huge Exhibit Hall with a great number of Exhibitors. Among the exhibitors are organizations and businesses giving you information to help you plan and prepare for your retirement.
Among the things that I did this year was attend the L.A. premiere of “The Way” which was introduced by Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. I attended a discussion between Spike Lee and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar about the Documentary “On The Shoulders of Giants”. And I attended an ice cream social on The Nokia Plaza where excellent and famous musicians played. Among the musicians who played at this social were Eddie Floyd and Jon Secada.
I chose to spend Saturday going to Santa Monica Beach rather than attend the conference. I had not been to the ocean in over 25 years. I was able to easily take public transportation from downtown Los Angeles to the beach and back. Other persons I met at the conference took tours or went shopping. Because the conventions always take place in interesting and exciting communities, side trips are sometimes offered by AARP or through tour companies. Or sometimes attendees just discover something they want to do all on their own.
Next year is AARP New Orleans. I have never been to New Orleans and am looking very forward to the convention. I am expecting great music, food and exploring the city. I am not quite ready yet but I will be by September 2012.