Once again our President, Sid Morgan (with the blessings of his co-host, Beth), brow-beat the staff and owners of the newly renovated Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee to host our Chapter Winter Meeting in January 2011. If you recall, Sid had also set up the same arrangements with the staff of the Park Vista Hotel back in January, 2010 to host our Winter Meeting there. This time around though, the hotel management created a Chapter 33 link on their website to facilitate our members in making reservations. I'm hoping they might also use that chapter page to display some of the photos taken during this four day event.
The Chapter meetings don't encompass a 4-day weekend. They only cover a weekend consisting of Friday-Sunday and this one was scheduled for the weekend of 7-9 January 2011. The extra day is usually included to give members a chance to arrive early so they might better enjoy the sights and sounds of the towns and cities chosen for the meeting. In this case it was Gatlinburg in the Winter. This extra day allowed those who came early to taste the fragrance of the local shopping malls a few miles north in Pigeon Forge and Sevierville. There are enough outlets in these malls to keep even the most dedicated Power Shopper busy for a few days.
...And didn't it snow!
Much to our chagrin, the combination of the supreme powers of the "warning order" from our Secretary, Art McRae, the wide-spread dissemination of the advance notices on the Chapter Website Bulletin Board and the coercion and threats from our President and his co-host were not strong enough to convince Ole Man Winter to change course for the week-end. Thus, instead of the 30 plus members who enthusiastically endorsed the site and date for the January meeting in Fayetteville, NC in October, only about 15 members braved the threatening storms of Ole Man Winter to attend this gala event. Actually, the snows didn't show up until the wee, wee hours of Friday morning and were finished about 0700 hours on Friday. This meant there were only 3-4 hours of light snow and the roads were clear both in Gatlinburg and the super malls to the north. How sweet it is! Friday night the snows came and stayed thru Saturday. Sunday the skies cleared and Ole Man Winter wouldn't return until Monday.
A couple of hardy souls made the journey from the outer reaches of the chapter Area of Operations to Gatlinburg on Thursday. Most arrived on Friday (just after the early morning snowfall). Still a couple decided to make the trip on Saturday (the heaviest snowfall of the weekend). Beth Morgan (and her able-bodied assistant, Sid) opened the hospitality room at 1200 hours on Friday. Two other groups had reserved the meeting rooms for their activities on Friday night so Beth (with assistant in tow) had to be satisfied with a double room on the 15th floor. Talk about vertigo!
Friday was open time and those hardy souls (read the wives) who dared venture out into the wild and wooly cold, made their way to the malls at Pigeon Forge, Sevierville or the shops of Gatlinburg. Most of the members decided to forego the horrors of the winter storm and remain in the comfort and warmth of the hospitality room.
Saturday arrived cold, windy and thick with snow. Ole Man Winter kept the various weathermen (and weather women) honest in their reporting. The meeting was held at 1000 hours so those hardy souls who wished to partake of more shopping (yea, sure) could do so in the afternoon. There weren't enough members to form a quorum so the gathering was informational instead of official. Stan Shank briefed the chapter on the "Paver" situation. It was decided to have National reserve 100 spaces for Chapter XXXIII. The first ten deceased members (picked by date of death) was given to National. It should be noted the "paver" item was approved at the October meeting at Fayetteville, NC.
Ron McCan, SFA National President, Jeff Hotujec, SFA National Vice-President and Cliff Newman, Admin Director, were also present at the meeting. They briefed those members present on various subjects.
Saturday evening found the chapter advancing en mass to the meeting room for the chapter dinner. For those of you who decided not to make the hazardous trip from your abode to the snowy slopes of Gatlinburg, Tennessee missed one of the best meals presented. Sid (and fully qualified assistant) outdid themselves when this particular catering group was selected. The food was terrific, from the first entree of the salad thru the hot vegetables, to the bar-b-que ribs and fried chicken. The caterers brought enough food to feed an army and most of the dining members ate their fill and then filled the "doggy bags" to take the ribs and chicken home.
Like I said, ya'all missed a great meal.
Our Auctioneer, Stan, the Man, took over the floor as soon as the tables were cleared and everyone had their favorite drink in front of them. For the next hour or so, the Auctioneer wheeled and dealed and pulled $10's, $20's, $30's and even $50's from the audience. There was a comment or two about how "we'll have to take out a second mortgage" to pay for this meeting. Stan, the Man, gave no quarter as he walked among the tables, showing off his wares and extracting the last penny from the crowd. When the smoke cleared this small audience had “donated” over $400 to the chapter Scholarship Fund. Good work, Stan.
...And a hearty slap on the back to our members and spouses.
And, once again, Sunday came onto the scene cloudless and bright. The snows were frozen but the roads were clear. We gathered one last time for our farewell breakfast. We said our good-byes, paid our bills and departed for parts unknown. I might add those folks taking Highway 441 to I-40 and Knoxville had no snow at all once you left Gatlinburg. I-75 and parts south of Knoxville were clear and the average speed on Interstate 75 was 70-80 mph.
The Spring chapter meeting will be held in conjunction with the Airborne Awards Festival in Atlanta, Georgia on 6-9 April 2011. We didn't have enough members at Gatlinburg to hold a business meeting so everything on the agenda has been pushed to the Spring Meeting. We need a quorum at this meeting, Guys. You won't be able to blame Ole Man Winter for not making this meeting. Besides Georgia is really nice in April. Plan on being here. Art will publish the alert order and you can also get the information on the Bulletin Board on the Chapter website.
I've added a few photos taken at our meeting.
See you in Atlanta, Georgia
Copyright © 1994 Chapter XXXIII SFA. All rights Reserved.
Chapter XXXIII, SFA, The Larry Alan Thorne Special Forces Memorial Chapter
Winter Meeting was created 16 January 2011