From Dan Murrey, executive director of the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee:
Last week Charlotte hosted the world. Tens of thousands of delegates, media, politicos, celebrities and ordinary Americans streamed into our city to experience the Democratic National Convention. What they got in addition to the convention itself was a hefty dose of authentic Charlotte hospitality. The essence of hospitality is allowing others to be themselves in your home, and we embraced just that. Demonstrators demonstrated, often led in their marches by Police Chief Rodney Monroe himself. Delegates chanted and wore funny hats. Politicos made speeches and rallied their troops. Guests ate, drank and danced at local restaurants and hotspots. The media dug deep to write both political and local stories. Even Jon Stewart gave us some good-natured ribbing, though he mostly chastised us for being too friendly and our city for being too clean for his taste.
Larger cities may take a ho-hum attitude toward a convention visit. But in Charlotte it was clear that we were happy they were here. Welcome to Charlotte was heard so often it should become the official greeting. The enthusiasm was contagious, and countless locals have told me how proud they are to be Charlotteans. After a few tough years for this community, it is a shot in the arm to feel such pride again.
While the Charlotte in 2012 Convention Host Committee was responsible for representing the interests of the greater Charlotte community in putting on this convention, we did not do it alone by any stretch. Mayor Anthony Foxx, former Mayor Harvey Gantt, and Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers gave great leadership to our efforts. The City of Charlotte, CMPD, Charlotte Fire Department, Charlotte DOT, CATS, and the U.S. Secret Service all played pivotal roles. Mecklenburg County, the State of North Carolina led by Gov. Bev Perdue, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, and our congressional delegation led by Sen. Kay Hagan and Rep. Mel Watt also gave great support. Virtually all local civic organizations unselfishly contributed, particularly Charlotte Chamber of Commerce, Charlotte Center City Partners, Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority and Visit Charlotte, the Foundation for the Carolinas, the Arts and Science Council, and the Charlotte Regional Partnership. Over 100 nonprofit entities volunteered their time and energy to various legacy projects that will leave a lasting benefit to our community. And over 16,000 volunteers made the convention possible with their time, commitment, and graciousness. Essentially the entire community regardless of political persuasion came together to take advantage of this pivotal event in our citys history.
For years, Charlotteans have known we have a great community and we have been anxious to show it off. From delegates to demonstrators, they could sense that they were welcome here. But thats not surprising its what we do here. If you come here and want to engage and be a part of our community, we will let you. That is the essence of hospitality. This convention was a success because of our people.
We are a diverse, vibrant and engaged community with great love for our food, culture, businesses and each other. People visiting for the first time consistently were surprised by whats here and pledged to come back. Before the convention, many guests said they never ventured beyond the airport when they came to Charlotte. Sounds like thats about to change.