Fire and Iceland

After a fairly calm 200 years the Eyjafjallajokull volcano started to erupt again last month. Thrill seekers from around the world flocked to Iceland. They took super jeeps, buses, and helicopters to check out the now active volcano. Many said the serene feeling of being there was indescribable. Tour guides and charter companies made small fortunes while the country started paying back its debts. During the past 2 months Iceland’s economy was starting to bounce back. Like the majority of the world Iceland was affected by the recession, however with the first eruptions from volcanoes that had been quiet for the most part, it saw a resurgence in the economy. Then last week came the big one!

The eruption last week has put a stop to all travel in and out of Europe! Officials say that it is unsafe to fly through the ash because it could cause the engine of a plane to shut down. Therefore over 700,000 people have been grounded with flight plans delayed indefinitely. By far this is the largest disruption of travel the world has seen so it has been unclear on exactly how to handle the situation. The bottom line is everyone is losing money. British Airways is losing 20 million pounds a day. Air France-KLM started doing its own test runs yesterday and hopes to present the results to government officials when they convene tomorrow. They are being proactive because they can’t afford to lose any more than the euro35 million they already have been losing each day.

The true casualties of this event have been the travelers. We at the Inn at the Peachtrees have some travelers stranded with us and are hoping we can do everything to make their stay as comfortable as possible. Unfortunately not everyone has been able to say the same. With some hotels almost tripling their room rates and the unforeseen expense of nearly an additional week abroad, travelers are weary and running out of money fast! Some airlines are reimbursing passengers for their expenses and providing meal vouchers. The American Red Cross has set up camp at the Kennedy International Airport providing blankets and incidentals. Hopefully by the end of the week things will be resolved, and everyone resumes safely with their travels.

Weekend at the Park

Atlanta is not known to have much of a spring. We tend to go from winter to summer, however mild the winter may be. We always have a rapid weather transition that goes from lows in the 20’s to highs in the 80’s in a matter of weeks. There for while I would like to say this is a perfect spring weekend for the outdoor festivals I can’t. Better yet I’m going to say we are going to enjoy beautiful summer weather all weekend long. No pesky wind, but don’t forget the sunscreen. This weekend is jammed packed with events so get out there and see what Atlanta has to offer!

The spotlight event this weekend is the 74th annual Dogwood Festival. Back at Piedmont Park this year it is expected to be bigger than ever with something for everyone. The Dogwood Festival was originally founded in 1936 by Walter Rich who was the founder of Rich’s department store. He wanted Atlanta to be international recognized for its dogwood trees. He launched a beautification of Atlanta project planting dogwoods in parks, around businesses, and along the roads. The Junior League then started holding pageants, parades, and carnivals and the festival grew. There was a brief hiatus due to WWII that started in 1941. By 1964, however, under the guidance of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce the Dogwood Festival became the largest civic celebration in the Southeast including fashion shows, light shows , and symphonies. In the 70’s hot air balloon races, regattas, and home tours were added. By 1987 The Dog Wood Festival became a month long event including around 40 events. This year it is a 3 day event and includes Artist Markets, Kid’s Activities, and Eco Village, and International Village, Food and Wine Tasting and more than can be explored in one day!

Sweet Water 420 Fest is a newer festival in Atlanta that has exploded into one of the most anticipated of the city. The 6th annual Sweet Water 420 Fest is going to be at Chandler Park this Saturday and Sunday. The proceeds go to benefit the Chandler Park and the community. The 420 fest is attempting to raise environmental awareness. So along with the great live music and the hoopla of children’s activities there will also be seminars on how we can take little steps to improve the health of planet earth. While you’re there check out the confessional, and cleans yourself of all your wrong doing to the environment as you take the first step to becoming part of the solution.

By far hands down the best date night idea this weekend is the Dogwood Festival and the Atlanta Film Festival coming together this Saturday for Movie on the Meadow at Piedmont Park. They are brilliantly presenting Alford Hitchcock’s Psycho! So bring a blanket and get ready to cuddle up under the stars!

Technology and Our Future

If you look back at our daily lives in 1989 when the FIRST Robotics Competition was first conceptualized by inventor Dean Kamen and MIT mechanical engineering professor Woodie C. Flowers it’s hard to imagine. Kamen, while most known for the invention of the Segway, made most of his impact with inventing the Auto syringe, a mobile dialysis system, an insulin pump, as well as an all terrain electric wheel chair. In 1989 Kamen and Flowers, realizing that the future laid in the hands of the youth, set out to find a way to engage and inspire students to explore engineering. Since then The FIRST Robotics Competition has expanded in to a worldwide event with 48,000 students coming from every state as well as Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Germany, Israel, The Netherlands, Turkey and the United Kingdom.

The FIRST Robotics World Championships has 4 leagues. The main event is the FIRST Robotics Competition. This year’s challenge is to make a robot that can shoot balls into a goal. The teams will compete in tournament form and the highest scoring robot moves forward. Each match is 2 and ¼ minutes long. In case we forgot these robots are designed and produced start to finish by 14-18 year old high school students. If this weren’t impressive enough the first half of the match the robots perform on a preset automatic mode and the second half they are to be controlled by remote! Each team starts with a $6000 starter pack and can only spend an additional $3500 on their robots. The terms are released the first Saturday of January and the teams have 6 weeks to collaborate and innovate and produce.

Produce they do. So much so that the competition has expanded to include 3 other leagues. FIRST Lego League in which kids between the ages of 9-16 build hand held robots to compete in the same form as the FRC. Junior FIRST Lego League also follows the same theme for kids ages 6-9 building robots with at least one movable part. Lastly the FIRST Tech Challenge was added as a more affordable option for schools to build robots at an intermediate level. Last year these robots used Bluetooth technology to power the driver.

In 2008 former President George H.W. Bush came to Atlanta and spoke at the competition. That year $9.8 million in scholarships were handed out to participants. This year we are excited to see who will come and experience the friendly competition and meet the future trailblazers, and pioneers of our world. Inn at the Peachtrees looks forward to accommodating these brilliant little minds. Be on the look out for pictures next week of the kids and robots we have staying with us on our facebook page!

The Dream Lives On

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. is a true legacy that one cannot fully verbalize. Although many have tried they all seem to stop shot of aw when trying to put into word how much hope Dr. King gave this country in a time of turbulence. On this day in 1968 he was laid to rest right here in Atlanta, where he was born, and where his dream was conceived.

Atlanta has not forgotten Dr. King nor have we forgotten his dream. The King Center is in fact dedicated to making Dr. Kings famous dream into reality. In Atlanta this week we went a step further. At Atlanta’s Ebenezer Church community leaders attended the ground breaking of a financial resource center. Dr King like his father before him and his son after him knew that without economic equality there couldn’t be social equality. The purpose of the center is to empower and educate people about homeownership, entrepreneurship, and even banking. The center for financial literacy and economic empowerment could not come at a better time either. With the country slowly attempting a recovery to the recession, Atlanta hopes to lead the way because “Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

As for date night this weekend Inn at the Peachtrees can’t stop talking about the Fernbank Museum! Martini’s at Imax is a weekly Friday night event they do where you can take in their current shows and enjoy tapas and drinks, but today if you visit Groupon.com you can get half off a year membership! It’s a great idea! Two adults and up to four kids, this opens up possibilities all year long!

Luck of the Irish Passing Through

Well, rain was predicted all day this past Saturday, and with the luck of the Irish on the side of Atlanta it held off! We are all glad it did because what would Atlanta be without the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade? Atlanta’s strong Irish community and The Hibernian Benevolent Society puts on a marvelous show. As it is one of the oldest St Patrick’s Day Parades in the country we expect no less. This year was no different. The 127th annual parade started at the corner of Peachtree St and Ralph McGill, and the 1.1 mile long parade headed south through Underground Atlanta stopping at MLK Blvd.

The Hibernian Benevolent Society was started in 1858 by Father Thomas O’Reilly along with a few business men to help their fellow countrymen find work in the city. During the mid 19th century there was a surge of Irish moving to Atlanta to escape the slums and discrimination of New York and Boston. Atlanta was a frontier at the time, expanding the railways. With the help of The Hibernian Benevolent, Irish men found work and settled easily. Atlanta has a strong proud Irish heritage. One can easily see, with a tour of Oakland Cemetery, just how deep the Irish roots run in Atlanta.

St Patrick’s Day celebrations have been a part of this country for years and started as political protest against discrimination of the Irish. In Ireland the celebrations didn’t become national until 1996; however since then growing to over 1 million attendees last year with in the now 5 daylong celebration. St Patrick’s Day has been celebrated since the early 1600’s in Ireland as the one break between lent. Hence the reason for the drinking associated with it. St Patrick, the Patron Saint of Ireland was actually born in Brittan. He was then kidnapped by an Irish man and forced into slavery. It’s been said that god told him to escape, and return to Brittan to be ordained and then return to Ireland to do god’s work. He spent over 30 years in Ireland helping to free the Irish. The clover is what he used to explain the Holy Trinity and why it is imbedded into St Patrick’s Day celebrations. Since Irish soldiers on March 17th 1798 started wearing all green to represent the clover, green has been considered lucky on St Patrick’s Day. Before this St Patrick’s Day’s official color was blue.

We here at the Inn at the Peachtrees encourage you, Irish by birth or Irish for one day a year, to enjoy the festivities of St Patrick’s Day this year, as we will be.

Springing Forward!

There are going to be some very lucky little boys and girls this St Patrick’s Day thanks to the Fraternity boys at Georgia Tech. They recently raised over $75,000 for the St Baldrick’s Foundation. At Ri Ra’s Irish Pub there was a huge shaving party held where the brothers voluntarily went under the razor. The Fraternity to raise the most money will be getting a free toga party at the bar, so it was fund raising with a little bit of “Animal House” thrown in. And with their newly cleaned up looks these ambitious men can head down to the CNN center! CNN is auditioning for new talent, most likely looking to fill anchor positions for their morning show which is ranked number two behind FOX. There is talk of a huge change in the lineup at CNN. With some people leaving, their spots are to be filled with the next line of veterans, leaving room for some new blood . There is nothing we like better than to see a success story of this sort. So for all you aspiring anchor men and women out there why not start out on top?

The April showers have come about a month early in Atlanta but we aren’t worried because rationale tells us that if the rains come early, so will the flowers! So flowers we wait for. And this weekend we will be waiting “underground”. Underground Atlanta is throwing their big St Patrick’s Day Parade this Saturday! All of Atlanta will be there staying dry wearing all the green we can round up to be Irish for the day, or the week. Of course here in Atlanta we make an event of everything so St Patrick’s is no exception. Underground will have festivities all day. Visit Kenny’s Ally for great live music including U2 tribute bands. The lower fountain stage will have the best Irish dancers in Atlanta, and of course bring the kids for interactive activities and teach them where this fun filled holiday comes from. Inn at the Peachtrees looks forward to seeing you there!

NASCAR and Glam

It feels so much better to have fun when it’s for a good cause! Last night the place to be to watch the Academy Awards was at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center. While black tie was optional it was a marvelous looking crowd that enjoyed the Oscars in style and helped raise money for a very important organization. And what a night it was for Atlanta. We had many Atlanta natives attending the Academy Awards of course but Tyler Perry stood out from the crowd! Asked to be a presenter, Perry was funny and elegant all at the same time. We are honored to call him one of our own and look forward to a win or two in the future. The C.E.P.A.C hosted about 600 guests for a night of great food, drinks, and dancing, and of course the glitz and glamour of Oscar. It was the 9th annual Atlanta Red Carpet event and they raised money for The Center of Family Resources.

CFR has been helping low-income Atlanta families since 1960 with things such as employment, education, housing services, leadership development programs, mentoring opportunities, temporary financial, and food assistance. It is truly inspiring to see such selfless people still exist in our society and make such a difference. We here at the Inn at the Peachtrees salute you and all the work you do to better our city!

On the other end of the spectrum good old family fun was had at Atlanta Motor Speedway with NASCAR in town. What a perfect weekend for NASCAR. With the temperature reaching the 60’s things were heating up. Most notably with Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards we look forward to seeing how this little feud plays out and look forward to NASCAR and our friend the HardCore RaceFans returning to Atlanta and the Inn at the Peachtrees in September.