Recent Newsletters

  1. August Newsletter Thomas Pence 07-Aug-2017
  2. July 2017 Newsletter Thomas Pence 07-Jul-2017
  3. June 2017 Newsletter Thomas Pence 01-Jun-2017
  4. April 2017 Newsletter Thomas Pence 28-Mar-2017
  5. February 2017 Newsletter Thomas Pence 27-Feb-2017

Newsletter

Subscribe to our newsletter

Confessions of a Celebration Virgin

Dear friends,

The ACOF Board received this letter a couple of days ago and I thought I’d pass it on as I could say it better...

1 December 2015

Confessions of A Celebration Virgin

My life was changed last year. 

The Orlando 2015 Celebration was my first experience with an all exclusive group of mature gay men.

When I first heard the rumors of the organization called A Celebration of Friends, I was inquisitive. The first post I glimpsed was a picture of a group of men at a convention for “mature men and their admirers”. Their faces beamed with excitement as they immersed themselves in a swimming pool, obviously enjoying themselves. It was unadulterated pleasure for me to realize that these were the type of men I had only dreamed of meeting and wanted to be with. These guys seemed unabashed in the excitement of being with each other. Please understand, I work in a profession for a company which does not approve of equal rights and tries to maintain and encourage its own strict code of conduct and moral standards for each of its employees.

I searched on-line until I found the ACOF website, made a phone call and ended up talking to one of the Board members. He was hospitable and enamoring over the phone and talked to me in a brutally honest fashion which made me blush. His words encouraged me to break out of my shell. As soon as the conversation began, it seemed to be over. Within minutes after hanging up the phone, my credit card was in full use. Flights and Hotel rooms were booked and registration paid for. I was ready, willing and excited to be attending my first all male convention. All I had to do was to survive until July! At 73 years old, I felt it was too late in life for me to change and that for all practical purposes I was wasting my time. My life was over before it really began. But as that ACOF board member told me, “Life is once! There’s a battalion of men who would love to get close to you.” Was he really on the level, or simply lying to to get his hands on this foolish old man’s money?
   

July arrived as it always does, but last year it sure seemed to take an extra long time. To this country boy, the city of Orlando was daunting. This was my first visit to a major metropolis and to Florida. I was overly cautious and eager to begin a new chapter in my life and to experience a part of me I had always denied. Walking off the airplane, I stepped into a weekend of life as I always wanted to live it; completely honest as to who I was and what I wanted. 

It seems the first Celebration experience is different for every person who attends, but all us virgins seemed to share a common thread; we were the preverbal kids in a candy store. Never before was I hit on by so many nice men. It started early, everyone was very friendly at registration and I was sharing a room with a man I'd never met before. Hell, I was sharing an entire hotel with five hundred men I’d never met before, except perchance in my dreams. There were older men like me and some even older than me. There were younger middle aged guys and then some younger young guys present. Some were your typical stereotypes, some hairy, some chubby, others tall and short, but all were wearing the same thing; each had a smile on his face. The Village People had arrived.
 
I really had no expectations. All I’d ever read about gay men was that they were all activists, busy fighting the system for equality in marriage and justice. I found none of that here. All these guys were doing was enjoying each others company. This was the world I was looking for. I never had a gay friend or a partner, this was my whole purpose of attending the Celebration...or so I told myself.

"How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn’t see?" I must report, the experience was very positive. I can only call it a great experience as I look back now at my first Celebration, the activities, the chatter and the laughter. Like so many of my new experiences; the first day was spent clumsily getting my sea legs until I began to relax just meeting the guys. This was a new world for me. A nurturing place of new life, the kind of life I always wanted to experience but had somehow forgotten. A place of men enjoying the presence of other men, a cache of gathered treasures and some of them were smiling back at me.
   

Sharing early morning breakfasts with different like minded men is the way angels must start each day in heaven. Some of the best times were the "Happy Hours" and sometimes those 'happy hours lasted twenty-four hours a day. There were seminars on many different important subjects that I was too busy to attend, but I did enjoy the ones I went to. One of the greatest achievements of the weekend was meeting the incomparable Edward Asner and also getting a chance to talk with him. I met many great friends I will keep for life.

The most important experience of the weekend was knocking down the walls I was imprisoned in all my life. Now my world view was different. It was a sacred time, the acceptance of becoming who I always was. The friendships I made were more than special. I was not an island but found unity with men from different parts of the world. I am looking forward to the 2016 Celebration.
 
That weekend last July, was one of the greatest in my life. It required trust on my part and a willingness to be open to new adventures. Luckily for me, this old man got out of his comfort zone and like a young bird took that scary first step out of the nest. While I was not the only virgin there, many non-virgins accepted me and helped me break out of my shell. For me, the 2016 Celebration need not change at all. I trust the ACOF Board to continue doing what they’ve been doing the past 14 years. There will be many new aspects and adventures for all to enjoy. I’ll be back with the renewed energy of a reborn 74 year old man. But here’s a word for those new Celebrations Virgins coming aboard "be prepared to have your life change forever”.

LIFE IS ONCE!!!

-- NO Longer - A Celebration Virgin

(Name withheld upon request.)

So what do you all think? Share your experience on our ONLINE PRIVATE FORUM and let everyone know how much fun you had.

 


PLEASE SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS


WHAT IS THE CELEBRATION?

Our yearly conventions are "Celebrations" of the mature gay man. We are a registered 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

ACOF MISSION STATEMENT: To provide warm, comfortable, safe and engaging gatherings recognizing and promoting self-worth, dignity, kindness and friendships within our senior population. To that end, we strive not only to host celebrations of our seniors, but family type reunions of our friends and brothers through supportive connections within our nationwide and international scope.


HOW, WHEN, WHERE?

Our next A Celebration of Friends weekend will be held this July 14 - 17 of 2016 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld located at 10100 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821, USA. To reserve your hotel room at the 2016 Celebration please call +1-407-352-1100 or click here.

Celebration Tickets: To book your entrance for the 2016 Celebration, click here.

Hotel Rooms: To reserve your hotel room at the 2016 Celebration, click here or call +1-407-352-1100.

Tickets
2016 A Celebration of Friends

Our next A Celebration of Friends weekend will be held this July 14 - 17 of 2016. To book your entrance for the 2016 Celebration, click here

Hotel
DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld 10100 International Dr.,
Orlando, FL 32821
Tel: +1-407-352-1100

 

 

 
CONTINUE READING
Standard
Oh the times, they are a-changin’

“Oh the times, they are a-changin’”: these prophetic words of folk singer Bob Dylan couldn’t have rung more true in the celebration of equal love and rights in 2015. With the United States Supreme Court officially enshrining same-sex marriages as constitutionally acceptable, we are reinvigorated for what lies ahead. In spite of some hurdles and challenges to this ruling, we are confident that the fight for equal love (and the recognition of it) will overcome any and all obstacles. Still, we must continue our commitments to one another, to our community that still struggles for equality in all aspects of social life, including adoption rights, nationwide hate crime legislation, among other issues that are still just as important to us as ever before.

As we come together as brothers, we celebrate, in earnest, the right of everyone to freely identify and explore as they see fit in a world that often demands a certain type of behavior or lifestyle. Recognizing these accomplishments and challenges, we go forward with excitement for the upcoming gathering this July 14-17th 2016 at the Doubletree Hilton Hotel in Orlando by SeaWorld.

In the years before, our gatherings have been a tremendous success. Young and old alike are able to enjoy each other’s company in a safe, fun, and comforting environment. The purpose of this celebration is to support each other in our daily lives as we confront different challenges, but also to reignite what it means to us in being a source of undying friendship and love. As people’s attitudes continue to change for the better, we look upon this time as a reflection of how far we have come not only as a community, but as a society that is better today than before.

Join us for a series of contests, poolside fun, and loads of entertainment, and musical guests and leave that world you know behind for a getaway weekend of your life. The only regret you should have is not getting registered soon enough!

Each year presents us with this dazzling opportunity to be ourselves in joyous spirits. Each of us are the most important aspect of each other and this is why we organize events like this: for families and friends to make new connections, express themselves freely, and support each other in bond-forming ways. We look forward to another year of fun because there is nothing more momentous or earth-rattling than being our true selves.


PLEASE SUPPORT OUR SPONSORS


WHAT IS THE CELEBRATION?

Our yearly conventions are "Celebrations" of the mature gay man. We are a registered 501(c)4 non-profit organization.

ACOF MISSION STATEMENT: To provide warm, comfortable, safe and engaging gatherings recognizing and promoting self-worth, dignity, kindness and friendships within our senior population. To that end, we strive not only to host celebrations of our seniors, but family type reunions of our friends and brothers through supportive connections within our nationwide and international scope.


HOW, WHEN, WHERE?

Our next A Celebration of Friends weekend will be held this July 14 - 17 of 2016 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Orlando at SeaWorld located at 10100 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32821, USA. To reserve your hotel room at the 2016 Celebration please call +1-407-352-1100 or click here.

Celebration Tickets: To book your entrance for the 2016 Celebration, click here.

Hotel Rooms: To reserve your hotel room at the 2016 Celebration, click here or call +1-407-352-1100.

Tickets
2016 A Celebration of Friends

Our next A Celebration of Friends weekend will be held this July 14 - 17 of 2016. To book your entrance for the 2016 Celebration, click here

Hotel
DoubleTree by Hilton at SeaWorld

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Orlando at SeaWorld 10100 International Dr.,
Orlando, FL 32821
Tel: +1-407-352-1100
 
CONTINUE READING
Standard
June 2015 Newsletter

What are we going to do Mr. Asner?

Ed Asner
What does a person do when the one person they always dreamed of meeting, agrees to a date?

What do the thousands of people who’ve attended the past thirteen Celebrations do when the one person they voted they most wanted to meet at a Celebration agrees to attend?

Well, take this one off your “bucket list”: Highly Honored and Legendary actor Ed Asner will be our special guest at the 2015 A Celebration of Friends weekend.

Mr. Asner has won more Emmy Awards for performing than any other male actor and in 1996, was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame. See, ask and discover from the man himself all about his life and career.


2015 ACOF Weekend
July 16–20 Hotel Information


Host Hotel:
The Doubletree by Hilton Orlando at Seaworld
10100 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32821

Make your reservations by clicking on the link in the upper right-hand corner on our website: celebrationoffriends.org or by calling 407-352-1100 (make sure you tell them you’re with A Celebration of Friends).

We're taking over the entire east wing of the hotel with our own private pool and business area. Don't wait, make those reservations now – rooms are going quickly!

While staying at the Doubletree Hotel, registered ACOF guests will receive these benefits:

  • High Speed Internet
  • Daily Full American Breakfast Buffet
  • Daily Full Open Bar and Happy Hour
  • Daily Shuttle Service to Disney World, Universal Orlando and Sea World
  • Daily Access to our "Private Movie Screenings", Pool Parties and Entertainment on Hotel grounds.
  • Daily Discounted $5 Self-Parking
  • ...and most importantly, the opportunity to meet, mingle and spend time with mature gay men from around the world.

YOUR INPUT IS DESIRED:

Remember, the A Celebration of Friends weekend is YOUR weekend.

That's why we constantly seek your ideas and input to make each celebration better than the last. It was you who let us know which celebrity guest to get this year, so please take a few seconds and let us know how we're doing.

Complete the survey located on the bottom of The Event page on the website or click here: http://www.celebrationoffriends.org/ahof-survey.

Just sign into your account to complete the survey. Make sure you’re registered first! All information shared is completely confidential.

Remember – we have some outstanding events planned this year:

FRIDAY NIGHT is our Hawaiian Hula Skirt Dancing contest, so start getting your skirts and dance moves ready!


We will also be screening several movies:

THURSDAY NIGHT - We'll be screening the short film “Tom In America” by writer-director Flavio Alves, starring Academy Award nominees Burt Young and Sally Kirkland.

Winner Best LGBT Short Film at the Cleveland International Film Festival.

Winner Best Short Film at the 30th edition of the Torino Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. (TIA’ first international award.)TIA’ first international award.

Winner Best Short Film at the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

FRIDAY NIGHT - The documentary “Taking a Chance on God” the life and times of Father John McNeill founder of Dignity New York and one of the founding fathers of A Celebration of Friends. Father John and his partner Charles Chiarelli will be present to answer your questions.

FRIDAY NIGHT is also our Hawaiian Hula Skirt Dancing contest, so start getting your skirts and dance moves ready!

FRIDAY NIGHT - Ed Asner look-a-like contest – winner will receive one-on-on time with Ed for photos and conversation

SATURDAY NIGHT - is Ed Asner Night – He will attend a Q&A at 7PM in the Ontario Room. (Special note: Mr. Asner will be around for a couple of days and during most of that time, he’s got his freedom. If you cross paths, please show him all the respect and honor you would normally give an honored guest.)

There will be a private dinner over the weekend with Mr. Asner, our Board, qualified sponsors & vendors, and lucky event winners during the weekend. For information, please contact Tomcat at tomcat9722@aol.com

SUNDAY NIGHT - is our Closing Ceremony where we put the 2015 A Celebration of Friends weekend to bed. So Sunday night will also be the night for our traditional Pajama Party. Make sure you dress appropriately with your teddy bear and PJs. (ACOF Teddybears will be available for purchase during the Celebration.)

Free popcorn will be available at all screenings.

A Couple of Reminders:

  • Book your room SOON, they’re going fast.
  • If you are having any difficulty getting registered or booking your room for this year’s Celebration, send an email to tomcat9722@aol.com. Remember: When you book your room, make sure you say you’re with “A Celebration of Friends” to get the special room rates; Give the hotel all your special requests at this time.
  • Day passes for this year’s Celebration include access to the pool, our movie screenings and nightly entertainment, but does not include the daily breakfast buffet or Happy Hour.
  • If you are considering getting your room through Expedia or any other discount change, BE AWARE: you will not be eligible for the daily buffet breakfast or Happy Hour and will have to pay the regular parking fee, so getting your room through the hotel is the best deal!
  • Lastly – once more, if you see Mr. Asner enjoying the sights or in the pool at the Double Tree, please be respectful and give him his space – remember, he is our guest.

Looking forward to seeing you all at the Double Tree on July 16 – 19 for this year’s Celebration!!

 
CONTINUE READING
Standard
1