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Pins offer snapshot of time, place and memories

By Connie Lannan

January 24, 2024

For years, American Rental Association (ARA) members who attend The ARA Show™ have received a lapel pin — one that is specially designed for that particular convention. A nice keepsake, you say? Yes, but it turns out they are so much more for those who collect them.

John Bibbo, CERP, president, Event Source, Cleveland, and Panache Events and So Cool Events, Pompano Beach, Fla., remembers the first pin he received from the world’s largest rental trade show and convention.

“My dad got the first one. He gave it to me because he knew that I was a collector. I think that is the earliest one I have. It was from the 35th show in Dallas. That was 1991. He started it and then I continued collecting them,” he says.

Linda Jones, former owner of Area Rent-Alls in Westminster, Colo., started collecting show pins the same way.

“My dad was a collector. He got his first pin from the Dallas show in 1991. He ended up putting them on a straw cowboy hat and wore that hat with all the pins to every convention. I started going to the show in 1993. We would go together and collect them. My dad collected them until 2015, and I continued until I retired in 2021,” she says.

Why collect these bits of show swag? “Each pin references back to the show and the memory of that show,” Bibbo says. “Each pin reminds me what stood out for me at that show — like the first show I took my wife to and the first time I took my kids. I remember the show, what hotel I stayed at and who I was with.”

Jones agrees. “I have so many memories of where we were, who I was with and where I stayed. I guess our family’s motto was work hard and play harder. The show was the time to do business and also play. We always did other things in addition to going to the educational sessions, the keynote, the trade show and such. We explored the city where the show was located. I remember one pin that I got from the show in Atlanta was the year my son and I were there. Snow shut everything down. We went out and just walked in the snow. Being from Colorado, we were used to the snow and thought it was great,” she says.

Both have favorite pins.

“There were a couple of them that followed the [branding of the] city. There are the ones from New Orleans and then the Vegas ones with the famous sign. I am a palm tree guy, so the one we had for the show in Florida with the palm tree is one of my favorite pins,” Bibbo says.

For Jones, it was the pin from 1997. “It was a ‘Jazz’ pin because the show was in New Orleans. That is my favorite because I was inducted that year as ARA Region Seven director,” she says.

So what do these collectors do with these pins? Jones has them adhered to the bag she received at the 40th anniversary show. “The bag is red and white. I have all the pins from the show and any other pins I received from the show on that bag,” she says.

Bibbo plans to “frame and display them on a shelf in my office. I started figuring out how to display them before COVID happened and then I got delayed,” he says.

For these avid collectors, pins from The ARA Show hold a special meaning in their hearts. Bibbo can’t wait to receive his pin from the 2024 show this February in New Orleans.

“This will be my 38th show. I think I have all the pins from every show I have attended since 1991,” he says, adding that this will be just the latest one he adds to his collection.