1,000s pack Stanley
Monday, July 24, 2006
By JACK HERMAN
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
Kristine Adair had never been to the Stanley Theater, but standing inside it yesterday she said it was well worth the five-hour flight from Washington state.
“It’s absolutely beautiful,” Adair said.
Adair and some friends stopped by yesterday for a brief tour before heading to Poland for an international Jehovah’s Witness convention.
But they represented just a small group of the thousands who descended on the Stanley Theater yesterday, most in attendance for a district convention of French-speaking congregations along the East Coast.
On the final day of the three-day convention, 3,179 people flocked to the historical Journal Square theater, Delva Don, a minister from Queens, said. A similar get-together was held last week, and those in other languages including Korean and English are slated for the near future, he said.
Visitors came from everywhere – Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, even France -for the event, whose theme was “La Deliverance est proche,” or “The Deliverance is near.”
“We’re having a wonderful time here,” said Connecticut’s Richard Donaldson, who learned to speak French after spending time as a missionary in Africa. “It’s worth the trip every year.”
Even those not there for religious reasons praised the theater.
“It’s beautiful, it’s been great,” said Boston’s Willay Gene, who is Catholic, but was invited to the event by relatives.
Members said Assembly Hall and the thousands of visitors it attracts each year boost the local economy.
“This has really brought up the area,” said New York’s Anthony Paris of the renovation the theater has undergone since being bought by the Jehovah’s Witnesses in 1983. “Whenever I come here, I take advantage of the shopping.”