Jehovah’s Witnesses pack the coliseum

By Alyssa Donovan

June 30, 2013 Updated Jun 30, 2013 at 10:46 PM CDT

BLOOMINGTON, Ill.-- A 3-day convention at U.S. Cellular coliseum this weekend brought thousands of Jehovah's Witnesses to Bloomington.

Ticket operations director Jane Everhart says this is one of the largest events the coliseum hosts.

Everhart said, "We have a few concerts throughout the year that would sell out in the 7 to 8,000 range but we're talking for just a few hours."

But this 3-day event brings in nearly 5,000 people a day, using the space for more than just a couple hours.

Everhart says the impact is felt throughout the city.

She said, “With all of the hotels and restaurants that the patrons utilize it has a massive impact on the community as a whole."

Convention spokesperson Brad Kelm says people come from all over Illinois, Indiana and Iowa to be part of the special weekend.

Kelm said, "It's really something that we look forward to each and every year. It's a highlight for Jehovah's witnesses. The nice thing is this instruction that we receive for 3 days we'll take that back to our community we'll apply it as a family. So it not only helps us but it helps the communities we live in too."

With that many patrons you'd think coliseum workers would have their hands full but Everhart says the convention actually gives her workers a bit of a break.

Everhart said, "The Jehovah's Witnesses come through and clean everything and make sure the building is ready for the program. So they actually help out the building as well."

Next weekend another Jehovah's Witnesses convention will be held at the coliseum except that one will be completely in Spanish.

Everhart says they are expecting a similar turn out.