Here is a list of frequently asked questions and answers about “Laurel and Hardywood,” the 19th International Sons of the Desert Convention. I hope this helps give Sons a better insight into what is to come in July 2014.
Q. Who can attend the convention? Do I have to belong to a Sons of the Desert tent?
A. Anyone with a love for Laurel and Hardy, Our Gang, Hal Roach Studios and other classic films may come. You don’t have to belong to a tent to attend.
Q. Do I have to stay at the host hotel to attend convention events?
A. No. Locals can commute home each night. To help keep costs down, out-of-towners may make other plans such as staying with friends. It is most convenient to stay at the Hollywood Loew’s Hotel to gain the full convention experience since many events begin at 9 a.m. It is nice to just come down stairs, find breakfast nearby and be ready to board the bus for the day’s activities.
Q. Will there be different registration prices for the convention like maybe a price that doesn’t include meals or a certain tour?
A. The two pre-convention tours on Monday, June 30, and Tuesday, July 1, are separately priced. Sons attending the full convention may choose to sign up for one or both trips and pay the separate costs for each. At this point, the convention will have only one cost for the delegate, which will include all specified activities and meals.
Q. What celebrities will be attending the convention?
A. It is too early to say. As the convention gets closer, I will release the names of celebrities who have accepted invitations to attend pending their schedules and health concerns. There will be an e-mail blast to announce the guests as they accept their invitations. Be assured that every effort will be made to have the biggest gathering of Hal Roach and Laurel and Hardy-related folks possible.
Q. I noticed you are planning a picnic-type meal on two different occasions during the convention and there will be a “boxed lunch” at the Sony Studios. I have dietary concerns. Will I be able to find something suitable to eat on those days?
A. When you register for the convention, there will be a place on the form to indicate whether you require special consideration for meals. The dinner menu at the Hollywood Museum is pretty much set and will be released soon. It is buffet style so I am sure there will be something for everyone. The picnic-style meals will be Stanley Dogs and Ollie Burgers or something along those lines. Every effort will be made to provide everyone with something tasty to eat.
Q. “A Perfect Day” is one of my favorite films and I would love to have my photo taken on the porch of the home during the tour. Can we exit the tour bus for pictures?
A. All the film location residences belong to private home owners. They will be contacted prior to the convention to let them know that a tour will be coming by on a specific date and approximate time. Some may agree to such photo opportunities. If there is a place to park the bus SAFELY and time permits, then that is a strong possibility. As the tours are being incorporated into the grand scheme of the convention, more details will be finalized. I can make no guarantees at this point. It takes time to empty a large bus and gather the folks up again for re-boarding. Also, some sections of the city do not allow large buses or require special permits.
Q. But, surely we can get out at “The Music Box” stairs?
A. I am 99 percent sure you will be able to get off the bus and even run up the stairs if you are so inclined. (And don’t call me surely!) I am looking into an exciting stay at the stairs as that seems to be the mecca of L&H film locations!
Q. What other locations will be visited?
A. Again, the tours still are in the planning stages. I am making every effort to show every known L&H film location that is accessible some time during the convention. Obviously, we can’t travel miles out of the way to show you the general area the boys made films such as “Saps at Sea” when there now is nothing there to see.
Q. How much “time on your own” will be included during the convention? I would like to see some other things in the area.
A. To be honest, there isn’t much free time. The convention is unlike any other in that we will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday with a full day and be packed with Laurel and Hardy-related events and activities right through Sunday evening. Events will come pretty close together to give delegates the most bang for their buck. If possible, I would recommend you extend your stay so you can work in other things you want to see.
My suggestion is that after seeing the full convention agenda this fall, start planning your entire trip. If there is something during the convention that you’ve already seen or want to blow off (I can’t imagine that being the case), you can do so. If you want to see other things in the area and there is plenty to see I would book a day or two extra at the host hotel or another one in the area either before or after the convention, or both.
Q. I am looking for someone to share expenses while attending the convention, “like when we came out here.” Do you know of anyone who might be interested?
A. Sorry, I can’t help you search for traveling companions, but a couple of people have asked to share hotel rooms with other Sons to help cut costs. I can direct you to someone when such a request comes in. I am afraid that’s the best I can do. I am planning a convention and am not in the travel business. (I am a full-time high school teacher with have many other activities this convention is a true labor of love.)
Q. Regarding the memorabilia at the Hollywood Museum what will be displayed related to the Sons?
A. This is another work in progress. We have the entire second floor of the museum to fill. Anyone who wishes to loan memorabilia related to the Hal Roach Studios is encouraged to contact me. It is a very secure and reputable museum. It houses wardrobes, furs and other pieces used by celebrities as well as Oscars, Emmys and many priceless items. It is the perfect place to share your items with very interested Sons and the public. You will get full credit and your treasures will be safe. The museum is planning a “soft” opening in June and, of course, the big premiere night will be with us on July 2, 2014. This exhibit will be displayed throughout the summer. This also is a wonderful way to get the names and faces of our heroes and others back in the public eye where they belong. The theme of the exhibit is the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Hal Roach Studios.
Q. What types of things are you looking for? I have a few photo dups, and some ’60s lunch pails, comic books and playing cards.
A. We want this to be a one-of-a-kind experience for attendees. Some serious collectors already have agreed to display some of the boys’ costumes and personal items. Special pieces that belonged to Art Lloyd, Marvin Hatley and Roy Seawright provide the perfect opportunity to highlight these unsung heroes. Also, some never-before displayed one-sheets or vintage autographed photos and contracts are welcome. Anything on Charley Chase, Harry Lagndon, Our Gang, The Boy Friends, Thelma Todd, Pitts, Kelly, Fin, Bush, Hall or Rex the Wonder Horse will be welcomed, too!
Q. What is the best way to keep up on convention plans, and when will registration be available?
A. If you have signed up for the e-mail alert on the convention website, you will be fully informed before anyone else. Checking the website from time to time will help, too. Some events may have a limited number of attendees allowed the pre-convention day on John Wayne’s ship is a good example. There may even be a cap on the convention as room reservations still are pouring in and some of the venues may reach capacity. Those that registered for e-mail alerts will be notified first when registration forms will be accepted. It may be a first come, first served basis and, at this point, could even sell out.
Q. When can I sign up for the fun?
A. I am looking toward this fall to begin registration. I still have venders that can’t provide pricing this far out and not all activities are nailed down yet. There will be multiple bus trips and bus companies cannot provide exact costs this early. Obviously, I would like to get this information out as soon as possible to gauge the attendance and recoup the deposits I have personally made.
In terms of convention attendance, I honestly don’t know what to expect. Earlier, I was afraid there might be a low number of attendees and now I am wondering whether there may be too many for the size of some of our venues. There are no slush funds or emergency funds if the convention goes into the red. If it is a success, seed money will be passed along to the next convention (as was the case with this convention) and any “profits” will be used for L&H co-stars’ grave markers and/or sent to UCLA for its film projects.
Q. How can I pay for the Convention?
A. All Registration Fees must be paid in U.S. funds via Money Order, Check, or PayPal. Completed registration forms must be sent with payment.
Please note that PayPal takes a percentage of your payment before it reaches our account. Rather than raise everyone’s registration to cover this extra cost, we are asking those who send payment with PayPal to add 5% of the total registration amount to cover these fees.
Q. What are the cut off dates for registration or to cancel?
A. Prices go up $75 as of
April 1, 2014 April 22, 2014. Cut-off date for registration is June 14, 2014.
Cancellations in writing (signature confirmation required) are accepted until June 1, 2014 with full refund. No refunds after June 1, 2014.
PayPal will only refund transaction fees for up to 60 days after you send your payment. After 60 days, PayPal fees will not be refunded and refunds will be issued by check to avoid an additional 5% service fee from PayPal.
Q. Can I register for individual days/events?
A. Yes, some events can be registered for individually. Please see the registration form located here.
Q. I saw recent news reports about “rioting” in Hollywood. Did this occur near where we will be and is it safe to attend the convention?
A. That’s a fair question. Yes, there was some unrest near our hotel. After the Zimmerman verdict, the Los Angeles area, like many other cities, experienced some civil unrest. The next night, teenagers engaged in what is called a “flash mob.” This means they (via texting, Facebook and other social media) called for a grouping in Hollywood where they ran amok. The police, who were stationed in another part of town, rushed into Hollywood and arrested many of these teenagers. The authorities made it very clear they would not tolerate this kind of behavior. Fourteen of these teen-aged vandals were arrested. I had a meeting at the hotel and the Hollywood Museum the next day where I witnessed a huge police presence. There has not been any problem in the LA area since.
Like any huge city, one must be aware of one’s surroundings. Keep valuables in your hotel safe and don’t flash money, jewelry or equipment around. Think safe and you will be safe. Of course, you will run across some interesting folks in Hollywood, especially at night. If you want to take someone’s photo, ask first if it is OK to take the picture. You would want the same courtesy. People who are standing in near our hotel dressed like Johnny Depp, Spiderman, Mickey Mouse or whatever expect a tip. Agree on the fee before you take the photo.
I hope this information is helpful to Sons planning to attend next year’s convention. I look forward to seeing you all very soon!
Laurel and Hardywood Convention Chairman