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Keep up with the latest news and excitement from around the Carolinas!

"Bean" There, Done That: Chicago ICON 2018

Sara Pinkowski

From June 30 to July 9, 2018, the Carolinas District assembled over seventy Key Club members from across North and South Carolina to represent the district in Chicago at the 75th annual Key Club International Convention. Tour members enjoyed amazing theme parks along the route into and out of the city, as well as the many attractions the city itself has to offer. We hope you can feel the excitement radiating from our tour attendees in the following descriptions and photos of this truly once-in-a-lifetime trip!

Saturday, June 30

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On Saturday morning, tour attendees gathered in Kernersville, NC to load the buses that would make the journey into Chicago. While some attendees boarded bus "Juicy Fruit" and others "Double Mint," all stopped in Medina, Ohio for the night after a long leg of the drive to rest up for the busy Sunday that would follow.

Sunday, July 1

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Sunday morning began as soon as the gates to Cedar Point Amusement Park in Sandusky, Ohio were opened. The entire day was spent enjoying the thrilling rides and attractions within the park, including the Maverick, Millennium Force, and Dragster. After a long day of lots of thrills (and sunscreen), the tour made its final trek into the Windy City itself.

Monday, July 2

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The first full day in Chicago was just that-full of excursions! The first outing was a walk to Shedd Aquarium. At the aquarium, Key Club members were front-row for a live dolphin show that featured spectacular flips, tricks as well as education on the marine life at the aquarium and in the ocean. After exploring the aquarium exhibits and watching a 4-D movie about sharks, members were ready to sink their teeth into Aurelio's Pizza for lunch. The lunch buffet offered an array of pizzas and toppings, from cheese to chicken. With full stomachs, the tour took a relaxing turn to the Art Institute of Chicago, where members pondered over the works of artists like Andy Warhol and Georges Seurat. The final attractions of the evening were the infamous Bean at Millennium Park and the "Tilt" windows that overlook the city at the John Hancock building.

Tuesday, July 3

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While members had the chance to admire the city's towering architecture throughout Monday's events, Tuesday's architectural riverboat tour offered a more formal, informational view of the city from the viewpoint of the reversed waterways of the Chicago River. Another staple Chicago meal was enjoyed for lunch on Tuesday at Portillo's. Some tried the Portillo's hot dog, others the classic Italian beef sandwich. No matter what was ordered, the flavors of the iconic restaurant were thoroughly enjoyed. Shortly after lunch, the Carolinas District broke into groups and hopped on the "L," Chicago's elevated train system, towards Addison Station. There, the district came face-to-face with the bright red marquee of Wrigley Field. Members experienced a live Chicago Cubs baseball game and cheered on the home team.

Wednesday, July 4

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After a few hours to shop the stores along the infamous Magnificent Mile shopping district, the Carolinas District checked in to the convention hotel for the first night of the 75th annual Key Club International Convention. The convention kicked off with an opening session to get members excited about the amazing opportunities for personal growth and leadership development in the days ahead. To conclude the first night of convention, Carolinas Key Club members gathered at the top floor of the convention hotel-48 stories up-to watch the Fourth of July fireworks light up the night sky above the Navy Pier.

Thursday, July 5-Saturday, July 7

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Over the course of three full days of International Convention activities, the Carolinas District garnered many accomplishments to be proud of. Not only did all four of the 2017-2018 Carolinas District Executive Officers receive Distinguished District Officer awards, but also, Mr. Larry Hewitt received the highly regarded Key of Honor award and immediate past Carolinas District Lieutenant Governor Leslie Truong was elected to the office of International Trustee. Furthermore, tour members represented the district exceedingly well in workshops, meet and greet opportunities, and other convention activities. Certainly many great lessons were learned about leadership, character and determination at this year's convention!

Sunday, July 8

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Early Sunday morning, the Carolinas said goodbye to the city and began the journey back home. However, there was one more attraction planned before the tour festivities officially concluded: an evening at King's Island Amusement Park in Mason, Ohio. Just as with Cedar Point a week prior, members were amazed by the exhilarating rides and used the valuable time to share one more bonding experience with their new friends.

Monday, July 9

Finally, it was time to say goodbye to the close friends made over the course of the past nine days of the tour. Tour members boarded the buses early in the morning and completed the last leg of the ride home. Members took home trophies and awards, new friendships, and lasting memories. Without a doubt, this was truly an experience all attendees will recount upon fondly for years to come!

We hope you have enjoyed learning about our amazing ICON experience. If you feel compelled by the story of this journey, stay tuned throughout the upcoming year for information about how you can join next year's ICON tour to Baltimore, Maryland!