But it's the convention attendees who fascinate me. I typically spot them in one of two areas: either on Fort Lauderdale's SE 17th Street Causeway, near the convention center, or around the Fort Lauderdale beach. They're not hard to identify, that's for sure.
Sometimes I'm sitting at Starbucks on 17th Street when I notice a gaggle of folks all talking and laughing as they walk by. And they're each wearing a security pass that dangles from a cord around their necks. That's an obvious giveaway, the combination of the passes and their excitement. But if I listen carefully to what they're saying, I also may pick up some idea about which specific convention brings them to town. Sometimes it's mostly medical chat about an imaging technique or maybe they're comparing notes about cruises or cosmetics or whatever else. On occasion, I have realized that one of the big self-help gurus is holding a seminar at the convention center. To me, that particular group of convention people seems pleasant but very earnest, often spending top dollar in an effort to discover a better way to live. I hope they find it when they come to South Florida. On other days, I may be walking along A1A near the top hotels on the Fort Lauderdale beach when I bump into some of our conventioneers. They probably aren't wearing their dangly passes but it doesn't matter. They greet each other on the street in a different way. Not like family or friends but as happy colleagues who've briefly escaped their convention. I can almost feel their relief. And I can sense their enthusiasm for Fort Lauderdale as they chatter about convention business, then turn their eyes and perhaps their cameras toward the sea. The conventioneers are among the tides of visitors who sweep in and out of Greater Fort Lauderdale every month. I always enjoy seeing them. They add a unique element to the vibe of our community, another kind of enthusiasm I guess. And a special joy whenever they get the chance to break free from work for a while.