Clearwater YAL Memorial Day Weekend 2007 Preview
April 24, 2007
This year more than ever it seems like Clearwater has snuck up on us. Inexplicably there seems to be less buzz about it this year, in perhaps a year where there are more intriguing changes than in recent memory. While it’s still at St. Pete’s Beach this year, the organizers seem determined to at least make the most of it, as everything (yes everything) will take place at the resort this year.
The hotel this year is the Tradewinds Sandpiper Hotel and Suites, which is next door to last year’s hotel owned by the same company. The good news is that the entire resort is exclusively reserved for the Convention. The hotel is already sold out because of its size, a mere 159 rooms, 2/3rds of which are suites, ensuring that regardless of the local turnout, there should be conservatively 600 people at the hotel alone. The bad news for the hotel is that the entire resort is exclusively reserved for the Convention, as there won’t be any of the self-policing that normally takes place when others outside the convention complain about the noise, three-story beer funnels, etc. As everything is taking place at the hotel, there will be no need for timing busses or even for cab fare, unless you want to try to go to Tarpon Springs. (More on that below.)
Noticeably absent from this year’s line up is the traditional official/unofficial concert at the church on Saturday Night. Maybe it was the low turn out at last year’s concert, or that the only tour worth mentioning – the Dionysiou Brothers – will be in some high profile places in the weeks before and after Clearwater, or maybe it was that they finally listened to us complain for the last three years that unless the concert is on the beach, it’s not worth paying an a la carte ticket price to see a show that you can see anywhere else. We suspect it was the latter because they are replacing the event with a Greek Island Party at the hotel that actually starts on the beach. (What a concept.)
Running down the other events during the weekend…
Thursday Night’s White Party has been clarified and rebranded as a White Linen Party. (Perhaps White Party was seen as somehow discriminatory… like a weekend attended by 99.4% Greeks isn’t.) The Guys @ DCGreeks.com appreciate the clarification about linen. Last year’s search for white outfits led to K&G Superstore, a primarily men’s discount warehouse store that typically carries clothing that The Guys @ DCGreeks.com or any other Greek male who takes himself the least bit seriously can’t pull off; yet a perfect store for finding novelty items like white pants or other white outfits. Upon walking into the store we were approached by a very helpful customer service representative poised to help us with our white party purchases.
Friday night’s Greek Night is some Red Carpet theme, which basically makes it an indistinguishable Greek Night. Saturday night’s event starts at the pool next to the beach and moves indoors after-hours for bouzoukia, which is a welcome addition to this year’s bill. We need to give credit to the organizers for booking a live band for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night, particularly for the event on Sunday night, which wasn’t the same last year without a live band. Sunday night’s event will be interesting not having it at the church, seeing as this is the Clearwater church’s opportunity to show us all their philoxenia. (We’re curious if the hotel will allow food to be brought in from outside.) They are also advertising that night as a “Formal” which may be an overstatement, as semi-formal in the Florida humidity is hard enough to pull off. The organizers seem to want to make Monday night worthwhile with a luau.
As for practical tips for St. Pete’s Beach, if you’re thinking of taking a night off to go to Tarpon Springs, good luck, because the trip is basically twice as long from there are it is from Clearwater Beach. There is a Publix (that’s a grocery store for those of you not from the Southeast) for food and other provisions probably about 3/4 of a mile from the hotel (certainly within walking distance). The ability to charge food and alcohol to the room will make for cash-free partying but will leave many with sticker-shock when the final bill comes in. There’s plenty of fun and basic conveniences included with the mandatory resort fee, so you might as well use them. If you don’t have a room at the main hotel, this may be the year where it actually matters. (When the convention was at Clearwater Beach, we were firm believers that it didn’t matter if you stayed at the main hotel or not because everything was within walking distance and it didn’t seem like the fun was as hotel-centric.) Keep checking back on DCGreeks.com as the time approaches for any updates as we learn of them here, but otherwise, we’ll see you in Clearwater.