Due to the ongoing devastation caused by the Caldor fire, which continues to threaten the Lake Tahoe resort region, the American Lighting Association (ALA) has been forced to cancel its in-person plans for Conference and rapidly create an online format.

The much-anticipated ALA Conference was scheduled for September 26-28 at the Resort at Squaw Creek in Lake Tahoe. With the Caldor fire still uncontained by September 2, it was decided to transform the in-person Conference into a virtual one that is being tentatively scheduled for October (firm plans to be announced soon).

Eric Jacobson, President of ALA, says of the decision voted on by the Board of Governors today, “Ultimately, the ALA has to put our members’ health and safety first. My heart goes out to all of those [in the area] and I have great respect for the firefighters who are working diligently to contain the fire and who are essentially putting themselves in harm’s way.”

Understandably disappointed, Jacobson adds, “I was so excited by the opportunity to see our members in person and was really looking forward to Conference.”  He, and the entire ALA organization, are grateful for the support Conference sponsors have given, stating, “Fortunately, we have a great membership and sponsors who have always stood up when needed.”

For example, when the 2016 Conference slated for Puerto Rico was cancelled due to health concerns over the Zika virus, the sponsoring manufacturers helped reduce some of the financial loss of cancelling the event and program. That was the first time in 22 years there was not an ALA Conference, and the entire membership missed it immensely.

When the pandemic forced last year’s cancellation of an in-person conference, sponsorship support and membership encouragement led to the creation of a virtual forum that replicated the educational and networking experience online. Attendees were able to participate in all of the educational sessions in a webinar format and those sessions were recorded and available for playback at any time.

That instant willingness of its membership to come together and lend assistance in a range of ways is an attribute Jacobson appreciates.  “That’s what is so great about this wonderful industry we are in, the overwhelming support,” he states.

Unlike last year when the COVID-19 crisis spread slow enough to give the ALA enough time to formulate a Plan B, the suddenness of the August wildfires so close to the Conference destination and dates is a tough challenge; however, Jacobson is optimistic.  

The ALA Conference committee will be quickly recasting the event as a digital experience. Exact details of the new session schedule and dates for the virtual Conference will be released in a few weeks.