REUNION 2018 – DENVER, CO
Now is the time to make your reservations for the upcoming Blackburn reunion in Denver, Colorado. These reunions, held every few years, generate participation from each of the children of John Blackburn Sr., who arrived in North America in 1736. John and his family faced consistent persecution in Ireland given their Quaker faith, so they became part of a large waive of Irish Quaker immigrants seeking freedom and opportunity in the Colonies. They settled just north of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Descendants can now be found in every state and province in North America.
Historically, half of those attending our reunions have never been to a reunion before – and many arrive not knowing anybody else attending. The events allow for lots of mixing and mingling and everyone feels like they belong. Participation usually numbers around 250 and preliminary numbers for Denver look great. Don’t be saying “maybe next time.”
The Association has reserved 90 rooms at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Glendale, Colorado. Room reservations should be made directly with the hotel (303-692-1800) and be sure to ask for the Blackburn Family Association rates. Rates are extremely good for summer in Denver: Single – $114; Double – $119; and Triple/Quad – $129 (all rates before taxes). Rooms include a hot breakfast, internet, free onsite parking and an indoor pool. There are also a few rooms reserved at these good rates before and after the reunion for families who make an extended visit to Colorado. About half our block of rooms is already booked and the rate guarantee will only last through the middle part of June.
The 2018 reunion weekend will be our busiest ever in terms of available events. Past participants keep clamoring for more options to hang out with newly-found cousins, to make new friends and to see the local communities we visit, so we are trying to accommodate that. Events will be spread around the Denver area, so it’s probably going to be a weekend where you might want to rent a car for all or part of the weekend. The hotel itself is accessible from the airport with a combination of light rail and bus. Reunion participants are welcome to attend any or all events.
Thursday, August 2, 2018
Starting late Thursday afternoon, volunteers will be at the registration table to greet, answer questions and sign you in for the weekend. We also plan to reserve space at a local restaurant that evening, close to the hotel, for a “meet and greet” opportunity. Cousins will be responsible for their own food and beverage that evening and there will be no structured program, but you’ll have your nametag lanyard and it will be your first opportunity to start mingling.
Friday, August 3, 2018
Then the fun begins! There will be a bus tour departing from the hotel at 9:00 and 12:30 (same tour) with three scheduled stops outside of town: (1) Dinosaur Ridge, where a local docent will board the bus and provide a narration; (2) Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where passengers can get off the bus and take in the majesty of the formations and the theater; and (3) a visit to Lookout Mountain, home of roaming buffalo, amazing views and the burial spot of Buffalo Bill. This is a space-limited event (about 55 for each tour) and will be filled on a first-come first-served basis.
Through the course of the day, the Association will host a family history room at the host hotel. Two programs will be planned and each will run twice that day. The first will be a brief overview of the history of each of the 13 children of John Blackburn the immigrant – the second generation. The second program will be a discussion around DNA testing. During the other times of the day, someone will be available to answer specific questions about your branch of the tree and registration will continue throughout the day.
Friday evening the family will gather for dinner at Maggiano’s restaurant in Englewood, for an amazing (and filling) Italian buffet. It’s the only more “formal” event of the weekend, but dress is only business casual. There will be a short structured program during dinner, but the objective is, again, to socialize. Our Friday dinners have always been something special. We are space-limited to 225, but an adjacent room may be available if demand requires.
Saturday, August 4, 2018
The day will begin with a family meeting in the morning, designed to give the Association Board feedback on potential locations for the next reunion and some general guidance around our activities. It’s a good chance to get involved, although many choose to sleep in! We will also discuss a potential next trip to the Irish homeland – it would be our third.
At mid-day we’ll gather for a family picnic at noon at a park in Lakewood, CO. It will be a low-maintenance event with a boxed lunch provided. While out-of-towners will appreciate the sunshine without humidity, the sun can get intense and we have reserved two covered shelters to provide some shade. There is a playground and convenient parking and the entire park will be reserved for our group. It will be a great place to hang out and catch up for a couple of hours on a Saturday.
Adventurous family members will continue west later that afternoon to historic Georgetown. We will board the Georgetown Loop Railroad and take a ride on an historic train through the mine country of Colorado, which will of course include wonderful mountain views. We’ll all be on the same train and can enjoy the experience together. (Trip is space limited to 120 passengers.) After the ride, while no formal program has been planned, it’s recommended that family members spend some time wandering around Georgetown and perhaps catch dinner with a newly-discovered cousin before heading back to Denver. Those not interested in taking the train trip should certainly still head up to Georgetown to enjoy the afternoon.
Sunday, August 5, 2018
The traditional send-off for our long weekend reunions has been to gather for Meeting for Worship in Quaker tradition, just like our Quaker ancestors did over 350 years ago. Quaker Meeting is a welcoming ecumenical format and Blackburns of all faith traditions have enjoyed the gatherings in the past. Friends from the local Quaker Meeting are looking forward to sharing worship with us. A social hour will follow and then attendees will be on their way after a fun-filled weekend.
Upon receipt of your reservations (see order form on website), you will receive a confirmation package with additional details, information, directions and helpful hints. To help your volunteers, please send along your order forms by July 15th if possible. We’ll continue to take reservations after that as space is available. For additional information about the events or the reunion, please do not hesitate to contact Kevin Howley at 248-761-1193 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Checks should be made out to the Blackburn Family Association.