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San Antonio convention offers revamped schedule

Those who attend the 56th annual 99th Infantry Division Association convention this summer in San Antonio TX, will be in for some schedule changes and a variety of tours and programs.

The convention will be held July 27-30 at the Hyatt San Antonio on the Riverwalk, directly across the street from the Alamo.

Room rates are $99 per night and reservations may be made by calling the hotel's reservations department at 800-233-1234 or online at www.hyatt.com. You must specify that you want the "99th rate."

Cutoff date for reduced-price reservations is June 24. Rates may increase after that date.

Activities begin July 27 with "An Evening on the 7A Cattle Ranch." The 7A is the only working cattle ranch in the San Antonio area that hosts chuck wagon parties. Designated a "Heritage Ranch" by the state of Texas, the ranch has been in operation for more than 100 years.

The evening will include transportation to and from the hotel, an old-fashioned pit barbecue dinner with all the fixins. A western show and hayride tour of the ranch will be followed by coffee and pie around the campfire.

The tour is $50 per person.

On July 28, a historic Gruene shopping tour is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Gruene TX, is located on the banks of the Guadalupe River, and the entire city has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. It offers unique shopping with many specialty stores, antiques, and wine tasting shops. Several general stores and a pottery works are located in the town center as well as six restaurants in which to enjoy lunch.

Cost is $25 per person. Lunch is on your own.

This tour will be offered again from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. July 30 for those who don't have the opportunity to go July 28.

A River Walk dinner and boat tour will begin at 4 p.m. July 28. A private boat tour along the famous River Walk will allow participants to enjoy the lush tropical beauty of the San Antonio River and the fun of gliding past restaurants, shops, hotels, and historical sites.

After the tour, enjoy dinner at the best Mexican restaurant in the city. Dinner follows cocktails at the cash bar and is served where diners can overlook boats and people traveling the river.

The price is $40 per person and includes the Mexican dinner. The tour concludes by 7 p.m.

At 8 p.m. the Checkerboard Chorus will perform at the hotel.

The annual Memorial Service will begin at 8:30 a.m. July 29 at the hotel.

The "Best of San Antonio" tour will begin at 10 a.m., following the Memorial Service.

The tour includes visits to the San Antonio Shoe Factory and 1910 General Store. The next stop will be Mission Concepcion, the oldest unrestored Spanish Mission in the United States. Lunch will be an all-you-can-eat buffet at Fort Sam Houston NCO Club. After lunch, visit the U.S. Army Medical Museum before ending the tour with a stop at the Alamo.

Cost is $40 per person and includes lunch. The tour concludes at 3 p.m.

The board of directors will meet at 4 p.m.

Join your friends at 7 p.m. July 29 for "Texas Night" at the hotel. The evening will feature a free taco bar and entertainment. A cash bar also will be available. Although there is no cost for this event, tickets still are necessary to provide an accurate head count for the hotel.

Events for July 30 will include the ladies' program at 9 a.m. and will feature a Mexican folk dance troupe with beautiful costumes and music.

The membership meeting also will begin at 9 a.m. Banquet seating tickets will be exchanged prior to the meeting. Check the convention packet and registration area for more information.

In a change from previous years, there will be no sit-down breakfast.

The Historic Gruene Shopping Tour will be offered from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The new board of directors will meet at 1 p.m.

Church services are planned from 4 to 5 p.m. If anyone would like to assist with making arrangements for church services, contact Donna Bernhardt at 620-382-2165.

A reception with cash bar will begin at 6 p.m. followed by the banquet at 7 p.m. Arrangements are being made to offer a choice of entrees for the banquet.

Christian de Marcken will be the speaker at the banquet. He is an associate member who lived in Belgium as a child during World War II.

A band will provide entertainment following the meal and program.

Added highlights for the week will include the presence of the M&Ms, Mathilde and Marcel Schmetz, who operate the Remember Museum at their home in Belgium.

The Diggers also will be on hand for the convention. They plan to present their MIA Project program several times throughout the week.

The War Room and hospitality room will be open and there will be plenty of time to reminisce and visit with friends.

A few details with the hotel still need to be worked out before convention packets will be sent the end of March. This information also will be added to the 99th's website at www.99div.com.

All tours had to be prearranged and that includes estimates of how many people will sign up for each one. Therefore, seating is limited and will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

The cutoff deadline for hotel reservations and convention registration is June 24. Those who wait until after the deadline may not get the reduced rate for hotel rooms and may find that tours are sold out.

More information about the hotel is available online at www.sanantonioregency.hyatt.com. The convention and visitors' bureau offers an informative website about the city at www.mysanantonio.com.

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