Local News

Fraternity convention brings thousands to downtown Raleigh

Posted July 27, 2010 11:03 p.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2010 4:37 p.m. EDT

— The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau's largest event to date is winding down this week. Omega Psi Phi, a national fraternity, has been holding its 76th Grand Conclave at the center.

“This is by far the largest one we've hosted to date. It allows us to set history and positions us for other large groups in the future,” Julie Brakenbury, director of convention services, said.

Brakenbury said the fraternity's conclave brought as many as 15,000 people to the Raleigh area.

“The atmosphere outside the convention center has been very hospitable. We appreciate it," Omega Psi Phi member Rick Sewell said.

Omega Psi Phi members from across the country, wearing the fraternity's gold and purple colors, arrived in downtown Thursday. They have been taking part in community service projects and fellowship activities.

“It's a way for you to see the brotherhood. It's a sea of purple when you come here,” Omega Psi Phi member Derrick Gibbs said.

Members also spent more than $7 million at area businesses, Brakenbury said.

"I'm sure the local economy appreciates it (the conclave). We have been spending some money,” Sewell said.

“We were busy Saturday through Sunday, Friday as well, not only during the peak dinner and lunch hours, but late night as well. So we are seeing the revenue from it all the way up until 2 a.m.,” said Jennifer Batts, manager of the Big Easy Cajun Food and Nightlife on Fayetteville Street.

Brakenbury said the convention center has proved its success with Omega Psi Phi.

“Everybody's done a great job. They have done what we want a destination to do. They rolled out the red carpet, or in this case, the purple and gold carpet,” Brakenbury said.

The Omega Psi Phi conclave wraps up this Thursday. The fraternity was founded in 1911 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. It was the first African-American national fraternal organization to be founded at a historically black college.