Jon Miller, Editor of the journal Social History of Alcohol & Drugs, provided the following account of an annual Alcoholics Anonymous gathering on 7 June 2003:
The Founder’s Day Conference is taking place in Akron, Ohio this weekend. About 10,000 people attend meetings and historic sites in celebration of the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Some of the events take place on the campus of the University of Akron. I live a block from Dr. Bob’s house (www.drbobs.com) in Highland Square, a gentrifying neighborhood of single-family Arts & Crafts homes built around 1915 as the city’s population was rapidly growing with the great rubber boom.
Founder’s Day has a big impact on the neighborhood as thousands of people visit the home over the weekend. Everyone mows their lawn, weeds their gardens, and generally spruces up their home in the week before to prepare for the crowds. A huge banner reading “Welcome Home” appears on the front of Dr. Bob’s house. The people come in cars, vans, buses, and, most conspicuously, on motorcycles. Many make the trip to Akron by motorcycle, which is fortunate for Highland Square, ince the streets around Dr. Bob’s house are narrow, brick-paved affairs with little room for parking.
Most of the visitors have their pictures taken behind the big rock in the front yard of Dr. Bob’s house. A brisk trade in t-shirts, magnets, key rings, pins, coffee mugs, and other such commemorative things takes place on the corner outside Dr. Bob’s house, and a few dozen homes in the neighborhood take advantage of the huge increase in foot traffic to hold yard sales. Young children run profitable lemonade stands. Local musicians play on the porches of nearby homes. It’s a carnival atmosphere, even if it’s a celebration, for most, of being clean and sober.