Several thousand dwarfs and family members will be descending on the borough this summer from July 4−10 as the Brooklyn Marriott hosts the 2009 Little People of America (LPA) National Conference.
First established in 1957 by actor Billy Barty, who made a national public appeal for all little people in America to join him for a gathering in Reno, Nevada, the LPA currently boasts 6,000 members with chapters across the country.
“Finding a city to host our annual national conference kind of works like the Olympics,” said LPA spokesperson Gary Arnold, who lives in Chicago. “A local chapter will put in a bid for a city, and then a review committee looks at the bid before a decision is made. The conference rotates. Last year it was in Detroit, and the year before in Seattle.”
Arnold said this is the first time the convention comes to New York City as it is traditionally in surrounding areas of cities, usually closer to an airport.
“The Marriott was competitive and gave us a good deal, and the host committee did a good job of fundraising,” he said, adding that the hotel usually adds special accommodations such as stools and risers.
Arnold noted that while there will be plenty of little people at the convention, many average−sized people will also be in attendance.
Eighty percent of little people have average height parents, said Arnold, whose parents and two siblings are of average height.
Arnold said that growing up he was treated like everyone else in his family with the exception of taking care of some of the special needs associated with dwarfism.
His parents also became involved with the LPA, which provides social interaction, parents and peers support, medical support and education, scholarships and grants.
Additionally, its members range from newborns to senior citizens, little people, average height people, and all religions, ethnicities, and economic levels.
As for the upcoming convention, Arnold said members will enjoy the Big Apple, but the event is mainly about socialization, workshops, dances for parents, kids and siblings.
According to the LPA website, it appears that LPA members are ready to take the borough by storm.
“It is with great pleasure that we are able to announce that the greatest city in the world, New York City, will be hosting the 2009 Little People of America National Conference,” the website states.