For three days this week, I had the chance to play tourist in my own town. I was a chaperone at the National Catholic Youth Conference that took place in downtown Indianapolis. Our group stayed in the J.W. Marriott. The general conference sessions took place at Lucas Oil Stadium. The rest of the conference was conducted at the Indiana Convention Center.
It was the first time I’d gotten to see the state capital through the eyes of a convention-goer. Here is what I saw:
- The downtown walkways are terrific. Our group went from the J.W. Marriott to the Convention Center to both the Hyatt and Circle Center Mall without ever having to go outside. That’s pretty handy when the weather is cold or rainy or when you are trying to keep track of two dozen teenagers.
- Lucas Oil Stadium is good for more than football. Our group of 23,000+ enjoyed musical performances, inspirational speakers and even Catholic Mass, which all happened center floor and was broadcast on the big screens to make sure everyone had a front-row view.
- The Indiana Convention Center is a beast! I didn’t really have an appreciation for the size and capacity of the building until I spent the better part of three days inside. For this conference, the space was used for everything from a quiet chapel to a dance party, traditional workshops and a “park” set up with hands-on art activities, bounce houses, a coffee house and exhibitor space.
- Circle Center Mall is a great escape. Need a break from sessions? Looking for a lunch spot? Have to buy a new pair of shoes because the ones you packed were not a good choice for lots of walking? Circle Center Mall is the perfect answer to all of the above.
- Hoosier hospitality is alive and well. Twenty thousand teenagers can make anyone a little grumpy from time to time, but most everyone we encountered was cheerful, helpful and offered service with a smile.
As someone who is from Indianapolis, I was proud of the way the city showed itself to our guests this weekend, myself included.