The year is 2005. Mark Zembruski & Kevin Thomas attend their first regional Christmas decorator meeting at Bill & Nancy Foley's house on Lake Saint Clair. We met in Bill's workshop and wow, what a workshop it was. Antique petal cars hanging from the ceiling and Bill had just about any tool or power tool you would ever need to build anything.
We had a great time, learned a lot, meet lots of great people and couldn't wait for the next one. Bill agreed to host the next years gathering only if Mark and Kevin ran the meeting.
The meeting continued to grow and we used to call it a "Mini" PLUS after the founder Chuck Smith of Planet Christmas coined the phrase. A few years later Mark came up with the name "CLAP" for Christmas Light Addition Problem. Mark should have trade marked the phrase as it is showing up everywhere on t-shirts and mugs.
We lost Bill in October 2012 but Nancy insisted that we continue to have CLAP at their home and Bill's shop. We eventually outgrew Bill's workshop but were invited to his son Eric's property. Eric was just completing a replica firehouse that would be perfect for our meeting. We moved to the Foley Firehouse in 2018 which is actually a event venue managed by Jen and Eric Foley. This new venue is really unbelievable as the building was erected to resemble a real firehouse. The property is also home to the Foley fire engine collection. Bill and his family collected fire engines and the property has a dedicated barn which houses most of them.
Through the years of generosity by the Foley family, the CLAP meeting was always free to attend. The Foley's have volunteered their homes and catered a wonderful lunch but we had to step up eventually. In 2022 we asked $25 per person.
2023 was a big step for CLAP as the Firehouse is no longer available for events.
We did an exhaustive search for a new venue and settled again in the Lacey area. The Thurston County Fairgrounds Expo Center has a large capacity that we won't soon outgrow. With this new venue comes some increase in the costs but with a provided lunch we are keeping it under $50 per person and looking like $45 is likely. The final costs were determined once we got costs for things like food and event insurance (yep, we need that now).
We will also be taking payments via PayPay (Friends & Family = no fees) and Venmo (no fees) and that will save us web and processing fees.
This year (2024) we selected a venue that gives us more flexibility. We are keeping the cost to attend at $45 and will be providing lunch along with the usual coffee, drinks and snacks.
CLAP needs to be self-sustaining and we hope this year is a big step in that direction.
Look for more details here and on the Facebook page here.
Your Elevator Speech:
This year we want to keep things humming along so here's the format for the Introductions:
How long have you been doing your display?
Your expertise? (That you may help others)