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Fayetteville Trying to Attract Military Reunions

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FAYETTEVILLE — Planning a reunion is never easy, but Fayetteville has come up with a way to make the ordeal a lot easier for military associations to plan their big parties.

The Fayetteville Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has produced some military reunion planners to send to nearly 4,000 planners across the country. Even though the city's planned Airborne and Special Operations Museum hasn't been built yet, convention officials say the museum is their best marketing tool.

Construction on the museum won't begin until the fall. It is scheduled to open in the spring of 2000, but Fayetteville Leaders are not waiting until then to showcase the city's newest attraction.

"We really have an angle to hang our hat on," said FACVB President Doug Traub. "We really have a story to tell and the time to capitalize on it is right now and that's why we are going after them as hard as we are."

Military reunions are usually planned two to three years in advance, so officials feel they can get a head start now.

Chuck Blocker works with military planners who call Fort Bragg. He says planners will be more likely to hold a reunion in a city that publishes a booklet like this, because along with information about the museum, there is information about activities and tours available for veterans at Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base.

"It makes it much easier for these people who may be dealing with members spread across the country to come up with a good viable plan and activities acceptable to their membership," said Installations Operations Officer Chuck Blocker.

The Convention and Visitors Bureau is also stressing a growing Fayetteville with new restaurants and shops. Officials want to let soldiers know the Fayetteville they saw when they were stationed here 20 years ago is not the Fayetteville of today.

Currently about a dozen military associations hold reunions here each year. That number is expected to double or even triple when the museum opens up. That translates into several thousand dollars for the Fayetteville community.