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AARP expo hits Atlanta this week

50-plus convention has speakers, concerts, and Whoopi Goldberg

Starting today, more than 13,000 seniors will descend on downtown Atlanta for the AARP national expo, called Life @50 , featuring seminars, more than 215 vendors and exhibits, and concerts. AARP national events director Jason Weinstein, who has produced the event for eleven years, filled us in.

Why did you choose to bring the expo to Atlanta?
Our events are held in cities that are vacation destinations for people, so we want people to find a secondary compelling reason to visit. Enjoy our event, but enjoy Atlanta, too! What a great destination Atlanta is. We can bring in Tyler Perry and Regina Bell, Congressmen John Lewis, Mayor Kasim Reed, former mayor Andrew Young. . . Content like that is off the charts and Atlanta is so rich in celebrity and historical markers in our country's history.

What are some of the event highlights?
On Thursday morning, about 1,000 members who said they wanted to give back will go to various Boys and Girls Clubs, community centers, Hosea's Feed the Hungry, and give back to Atlanta. James Brown and Dan Marino will go with them. Then there will be a free gospel concert Thursday evening headlined by Regina Bell.

On Friday, Whoopi Goldberg will speak with Tyler Perry, with a welcome by Mayor Reed. Friday evening, there's an amazing dance party (with the Turtles, Gary Puckett, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Chuck Negron, and Gary U.S. Bonds).

We think Saturday will be groundbreaking. It's Congressmen Lewis, former mayor Young, Julian Bond, and Dick Gregory, along with the band, Sweet Honey in the Rock. It's a reflection on the fifty years since the march on Washington—the experiences they all had, as well as how far they've come and how far we still have to go.

(Editor's note: Friday and Saturday there's also a film festival called Movies for Grownups that will include a visit by Andy Garcia. The event ends with a Gloria Estefan concert Saturday night. Concert ticket information: 404-222-5809.)

Is 50 the new 30?
We keep hearing "60 is the new 40" or "70 is the new 50." I don’t think it's the new mile marker that 50 used to be. Absolutely, AARP is going to be in your mailbox on your fiftieth birthday. Some people embrace it and others say, "I'm not ready for this."

We have been seeing a difference in family structure and the way people's homes look. Empty nesting is not that prevalent anymore: Kids are coming back after college or aging parents move back in. All of a sudden this crowd that was looking forward to being empty nesters is now part of a sandwich generation—taking care of kids or parents. Now they're saying, things aren't what I expected. That's why we created Life Reimagined. We might not have all the answers but we want to be with you all the way.

For information about the expo, visit http://www.aarp.org/about-aarp/events/national_event/