Local Economy Surges Thanks to Convention

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Local Economy Surges Thanks to Convention

July 9, 2006, 10:28 PM

Reporter: Jonathan Hardison
Jonathan’s Blog
New Media Producer: Rachel Chambliss

Jehovah’s Witnesses are often stereotyped as overeager evangelists looking to spread their religion.

And while they are here to learn and minister, they’re not just using Bible tracts and flyers to spread their influence.

More than 5,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses spend all day inside Roberts Stadium, listening to speakers and building their faith. But when it’s time for dinner, they fan out across the city.

Ken Young, a Jehovah’s Witness minister, comments, “Like everybody else, we like to eat. And once the convention is over, we’ll find nice restaurants.”

Alex Kapteyn, a server at Turoni’s, explains, “As soon as we see one of them come in with their nametags, we expect it to fill up immediately.”

Located minutes from the stadium, Turoni’s sees unusually large lunch and dinner crowds.

Alex continues, “They’re very nice, very nice. Never had problems with any of them.”

Whose worth is measured by a simple question.

“As tippers – probably about 75-percent. They’re good, very nice. I enjoy talking to some of them,” she says.

A hotel receptionist says, “The only room we have for tonight [Friday] is a Jacuzzi suite.”

Kurt McBride, a manager at the Baymont Inn, says, “We are, as most hotels are in this area, full. And glad for the business.”

With an occupancy rate hovering around 100-percent, hotels are more than willing to put in the extra time to accommodate their convention-going guests.

“Everybody checks in on Thursday night, so Thursday I stay a couple of extra hours and get ‘em all in. Then Friday and Saturday is relatively easy,” Kurt says.

Ken Young says, “We always enjoy convention cities that cooperate with us as far as our rooming situations are concerned, and we like to patronize the city here.”

This year’s convention will wrap up with a service open to the public on Sunday.

No word yet on whether the convention will be back in Evansville next year.

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