Applause erupted as spectators watched nearly 200 proud craft professionals march by and into the Floridian Ballroom at the Broward Convention center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, kick-starting ABC's 2015 National Craft Championships.
After introductions, presentation of the colors, and the pledge of allegiance, Mike Stilley of S&B Engineers and Constructors stepped in to highlight the importance of safety throughout the event before keynote speaker John Ratzenberger took the podium. Ratzenberger is an entrepreneur and actor, best known for his role on Cheers. On a related note, he also voiced the character of Construction Foreman Tom in the movie, Up.
Ratzenberger delivered a riveting speech, sharing anecdotes about his prior days as a carpenter, while emphasizing his appreciation for and the necessity of America's construction workforce. "The trades are to America as spinach is to Popeye," he stated.
Already having had demonstrated the rigorous skill and knowledge requirements necessary to participate in the event (success in its own right), these craftsmen and craftswomen will be providing fierce competition for each other. A mix of nervous excitement and cool confidence is in the air as competitors await the events of the next few days, starting with a written exam later this afternoon.
ABC's words of advice to those who may be overly anxious: "Trust in your training."
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Floridian Ballroom at the Broward Convention center
Mike Stilley of S&B Engineers and Constructors
Keynote speaker, entrepreneur and actor John Ratzenberger