CHICAGO HERE WE COME
After another friendly, but robust discussion, the Roots Family voted to return to Chicago for the 2016 reunion. Chicago had hosted previous reunion and it was presumed that Chicago would host the current reunion, until it was beaten out by dark-horse entry Cleveland. Chicago’s next-up selection was again threatened by another unexpected choice- Miami. Chants of “Miami, Miami” could be heard at the Reunion Dinner by a vocal group of attendees. In the end, lead by the support of what could be described as “traditionalist”, Chicago ruled the day.
As always, the site selection was decided at the closing family meeting on Sunday morning, Originally slated for the host Challenger's residence, it was moved to the hotel lobby to accommodate family members leaving town. With about twenty-five persons in attendance, the discussion began with a call for passing the torch to the younger generation. When given the opportunity to speak, the youth spoke of things they liked and would like to see in future reunions. The youngest spoke of variety and family, Leslie Carr stated that she “enjoyed going to different places and seeing different things.” Bria Mealy talked about “having activities that everyone could participate in.” The newly minted twenty-one year old cousins,vanguard of the next generation, Christina Carr and Alexa Carr, wisely stayed diplomatic, endorsing all the family reunion encompassed, but content to let their elders continue to shoulder planning responsibilities. They might not be so lucky next time.
There was also a conversation about making the reunion yearly, because as was expressed by the many octogenarians in attendance, “we ain’t getting any younger.”
The conversation continued about location, and the idea of a camping trip was considered on the suggestion of Carmen N’Namdi. A spirited discussion followed, and many merits were explored, including idyllic locations and the opportunity for a greater opportunity for bonding. In the end in was tabled for the personal, (“I ain’t stayin’ in a tent in the woods”), to the practical (where and when, cabin or lodge), but it was the logistical (long lead times and requirement for pre-payment and no opportunity for late additions.) that foiled it, among the many other reasons. The idea of a cruise again made it to the floor, but it was again rejected as too expensive and too complicated. So it was back to square one- Miami or Chicago?
Jumanne N’Namdi was the driving force for a Miami reunion. He had moved ironically from Chicago to Miami to open the latest iteration the family's art galleries, N'Namdi Contemporary. Jumanne was not in attendance (he had an early flight) but in response to the draft Miami movement he spoke at dinner the previous night. He expressed his willingness to host the gathering, and touted all that Miami has to offer. He had reservations about the tough July Miami heat. He wanted to make a change, which to some might have seemed trivial, but to the “traditionalist” caused some concern. Move the date of the reunion to the Spring to take advantage of the beautiful Florida weather at that time of year. While making sense on the surface, it brought in a raft of complications. Family member with school-age children pointed out that Spring Break varies from state to state, and airfare to that time of year were usually at a premium. While probably meant more as a suggestion than a requirement, it most likely doomed the Miami bid, and Jumanne was not there to defend his plan
When given the opportunity to speak, Gary Carr expressed not only his concern about changing the date, but also to making any substantive changes to the format like holding it yearly, instead of biennially. “We have a formula that has lasted for two decades”, he said, “let’s not mess with it.” Someone called out that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” which was met with approving nods. "So that means Chicago?", an elder asked? “That means Chicago”,said Gary.
With time running short and seeing a change in the tide, reunion host Victor Challenger called for a vote on Chicago. And overwhelming majority raised their hands. “Chicago it is”, Victor concluded without dissent, but a little surprise at the sudden turn of events.. So for the Roots Family, it’s back to Chi-town in 2016.