NYC Prepares for Attack Anniversary

Tue May 21, 3:56 PM ET

By TED SHAFFREY, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK (AP) - The sprawling Jacob K. Javits Convention Center will be all but empty. The banquet rooms at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel won't echo with the usual dinner and speech-making din. And tents for the city's fall fashion shows probably will go up later than normal.

Event calendars are wide open the week of Sept. 11 in New York, as planners have postponed or moved conventions, celebrations and trade shows in deference to the one-year anniversary of the terror attacks against the United States.

"That period this year is very, unusually soft," said Jim Blauvelt, the Waldorf's executive director of catering. "People need that time to reflect and heal."

In years past, the Waldorf was booked that week with United Nations fetes, gala charity balls and fashion week celebrations.

At the Javits Center, the only show scheduled is an international flower exhibition that opens Sept. 12. That's unusual for a venue that is otherwise nearly booked through the end of 2003, spokesman Mike Eisgrau said.

"If somebody wanted to book a show, we would book them," said Eisgrau. But, he said, show management companies are shying away from that week, in which Sept. 11 falls on a Wednesday.

Although plans for the anniversary are still being put together in the city, memorial events are likely to dominate the week. The National Association of Police Organizations, for example, has scheduled a ceremony on Sept. 11.

Amy Solomonson, a spokeswoman for NYC & Company, the city's tourism bureau, downplayed the significance of the sparse schedule, attributing it partly to a normal slowdown around the Jewish holidays.

Still, organizers for the Fall Fair for International Fine and Decorative Arts and the Gay Life Expo say they rescheduled their events because of the anniversary.

"We heard that there were memorial events during that time so we called Javits and were able to reschedule for the following week," said Sarah Flynn, director of marketing for Florida-based International Fine Arts Exhibitions.

Steve Levenberg, chief operating officer of the Manhattan-based Consolidated Management Associates, moved the third annual Gay Life Expo, a consumer show, from the week of Sept. 11 to November.

Levenberg's company is also staging Club Nation, a first-time national trade show for nightclub owners, at Webster Hall in the East Village, at the end of September.

"We deliberately scheduled it away from the week of Sept. 11," said Levenberg. "People may not have felt good about having a good time that week."

Like several other organizers, Levenberg said fear of potential violence during the week didn't figure into his decision.

"It never once passed through our minds," he said. "We're not going to let ourselves be intimidated. Life will go on."

The fall fashion shows, held under tents in midtown Manhattan's Bryant Park, are expected to be pushed back from their original dates of Sept. 8-15. Organizers are considering the following week, but haven't set a firm date because they must coordinate with show planners in Europe.

Others not wanting to tread on emotions that week include MTV, which moved up its 2002 MTV Video Music Awards show at Radio City Music Hall from Sept. 5 to August 29.

Paul Wilmot said his public relations firm postponed the New York launch of pop star Jennifer Lopez's first perfume that week.

"I'm recommending that clients do nothing, absolutely nothing, that week," Wilmot said. "It may be different in other parts of the country, but in New York it'll be a time to be with friends and family."


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