Teens take in local sites during Key Club convention

Published 12:06 am Sunday, April 18, 2010

NATCHEZ — Clusters of teens in gray T-shirts were hard to miss in downtown Natchez Saturday.

These teens, here for the 67th annual Key Club Louisiana, Mississippi and West Tennessee District Convention, gave Natchez two big thumbs up.

Nicole Weishar, 16, and Maria Connolly, 15, both of New Orleans, said they dined at Pig Out Inn Friday night.

“It was delish,” Weishar said.

Key Club Division 6 Lt. Governor Robby Earle, 18, of Ruston, La., said he had mostly been working so far, but he did get a chance to eat at Pig Out Inn.

“I enjoyed eating their barbecue a lot,” Earle said. “While Natchez isn’t a small town, it has a small town feel.

“I like Natchez.”

Upstairs at the Natchez Convention Center, Will Cavell, 17, of Thibodaux, La., said he was enjoying the bluff city.

“It is very pretty and not at all trashy,” Cavell said. “I like that the town is historical, and (Natchez) seems like a good place to be.”

Natchez Convention Center General Manager Walter Tipton said the Key Club convention introduces the city to a younger generation who would remember the experience.

“This is a great conference for Natchez,” Tipton said. “It exposes Natchez to a different demographic — we don’t normally get high school students here.”

Tipton said the approximately 550 people here would generate between $250,000 and $500,000 for Natchez during their three- day stay.

Key Club LaMissTenn District Administrator Scott DuPont said after a few years in Baton Rouge, they were interested in moving to a location more centralized in the district.

It didn’t hurt that the town was extra cooperative, DuPont said. Everyone from the hotel managers to Police Chief Mike Mullins worked with Key Club to bring the convention to Natchez, DuPont said.

“The town was very welcoming,” he said. “It is a wonderful town with excellent facilities and we would love to be back next year.”

DuPont said if the specifics can be worked out, Key Club could return to Natchez next year.

Joe Hackett, 17, of New Orleans, said he had been going to the district’s convention for three years in a row.

“I think this is one of the better conventions,” Hackett said. “It was a nice change of scenery.”

Andrew Carter, 16, who attends Cathedral High School, said he enjoys being a part of Key Club and this year’s convention has been enjoyable.

“It is good and very interactive,” Carter said. “It’s good to learn how to help people for a better cause.”

Earle said he knows it sounds cheesy, but he is active in Key Club, a service oriented club sponsored by Kiwanis, because he likes giving back.

The Key Club teens and advisors, who have been in town since April 16, will head back to their homes today. While here, they danced, played trivia and board games and attended seminars.