One of the annual events that one of my best girlfriends, Kim, and I enjoy is the Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards, or better known as the Hoodies. We have gone twice to the event when it was held in Las Vegas and have enjoyed every minute of it. Imagine our excitement when we learned they would be held this year in Atlanta!! Boy oh Boy were we ready to get the party started!!
Because of it’s proximity to where she lives in Virginia, we were able to get her sister, Stephanie and Stephanie’s girlfriend Wanda to join us for an all out Girlfriends Getaway excursion. We were excited to have more company for the trip, but also to find the cost was much more affordable.
If you’ve ever done the Hoodies before, you know that it’s crucial to register and purchase your award show tickets as soon as possible so that you can have great seats. And because of our pre-planning, we managed to get great floor seats for the Awards Show as well as the Nephew Tommy Comedy Show. Having gone before previously, we opted not to purchase tickets right away for the VIP After Party, or the Freedom Friday Party since they both were general admission and we wanted to wait to see who would be performing. I wish we had purchased the After Party tickets, however because they announced that Bell Biv Devoe would be performing, and when we went to purchase those tickets they were sold out.
We decided to stay at the Centennial Park Embassy Suites since it was so close to the venue and our reservation would include a hot breakfast and the manager’s reception daily. I knew, having traveled to Atlanta on several occasions that although the Marriott Marquis was the headquarters hotel, under no circumstances was I going to stay there. I hated my experience each time I was there. The accommodations at the Embassy Suites were okay. The beds were a little small (doubles) and the furniture look a little antiquated. (Really the hotel could use a modernization to bring it up to date just a tad.) We read horror stories about the long lines for the breakfast and manager’s reception, but it turned out not to be so bad each day. The check-in process however, left a lot to be desired because of the long waits. However, once we left our bags at the bell desk, we walked up to a nearby sports bar, Stats for lunch. The food, while a little pricy was delicious and the portion size was great.
Let me back up a little. I made the “kurfluffle” of mistaking the shuttle to the airport Embassy Suites as the one for the Centennial Park location. There is no courtesy shuttle. We decided to save on cab fare and take the MARTA there. Which was a great scenic ride, however walking in 90 degree heat with your luggage from the metro station to your hotel is not cute. My departing flight was early in the morning so I had no choice but to take a cab back to the airport for a whopping $50!!! The MARTA cost us $3.50 from the airport so maybe dragging the bags a few blocks wasn’t so bad after all.
We arrived Thursday early so we could enjoy the day and then be rested for the Comedy Jam that night. It was a great show, my only negative comment was the long wait/line to get in. We had tickets for the late show at 10pm and I guess we had to wait for everyone from the previous show to leave out, and then allow time for a change over or something before they let us in… and if you saw my 5 inch stilettos, you would understand why standing for 45 minutes was not a good look. However, once we were seated and the show began, we enjoyed ourselves.
Stephanie & I in the “Streets” of ATL
The next morning we had to head out early… 4am early for the live morning show broadcast. This is always a highlight of our trip because Kim and I are big Steve Harvey fans, but let me tell you, being out until 1 am and then up again before the rooster crows, does not make me a happy camper. But because we didn’t want to be completely at the back of the auditorium, we dragged ourselves out into the wee hours of the morning. (There were folks starting to camp out when we left for the comedy show. Now I wanted to be near the front, but not that bad…it began to poor down raining before we got back to the hotel!)
The live broadcast was great. This year they had George Tandy Jr, and we were thrilled when we discovered he was from our hometown Virginia Beach!. They also had John Legend (not my favorite performer.) But I was anxious to get to the expo area because I hear this year would be the best yet! And it was!!
The sponsors there were great and have lots of nice giveaways. I got personalized coke bottle for everyone in the family. We also, got the usual canvas bags and State Farm had some nice giveaways too. There was a lot going on in the Expo area. From the step show, the celebrity appearances, live beauty demonstrations, and the college expo, there was something for everybody. The second day, we enjoyed a free film screening, a dance aerobic session with Cupid and his CuRobiks, more celebrity meet and greets, a live Family Feud Show, and the highlight for me was getting Zane to sign my copy of Z:Rated
, her anthology that features my debut short story, “Possessed Penis.”
Saturday night was the Hoodie Award Show. It was in the Phillips Arena, which was slightly a little further than the World Congress Center from our hotel, but the walk was not bad. Especially since this time I wore by slippers and carried my stilettos in my hand. As I mentioned before we had great seats and were able to enjoy all the antics of the artists, presenters and performers. Tamala Mann was phenomenal singing “Take Me to the King,” the comedy joke off between David Mann and Lavell Crawford had me in stitches. Chrisette Michelle was lovely as ever and all in all, this year’s show was among the best yet.
I do like the change of venue, although nothing is like Vegas. But the cost break made the move to Atlanta far more attractive. We missed the “Act Like a Success, Think Like a Success” session that Steve did, as well as the other panel discussions featuring Zane, Kandi Burruss, and others. There was just so much to do! Overall we had a blast and we plan to do this again next year!