Day 1 of the American Public Transportation Association’s Annual Meeting was spent full of committee meetings and exhibitors finalizing their booth setups as they gear up for tomorrow’s start of Expo. There are about 17,000 attendees here for Expo with 66 countries represented. There are 2,800 booths in the exhibit hall, including 51 DBEs. With 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space in the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, there’s a lot of ground to cover. There was a whirlwind of activity on the exhibit floor as people were finishing their booth set up and prepping for tomorrow when the show floor opens. While set up isn't even complete, it's evident there are some really amazing things to see with vendors representing every facet of public transportation, including two full-size rail cars, two mock rail cars and more than 50 buses that were brought in. And even though there is 140 days 23 hours and 58 minutes until Mardi Gras 2012, the "Welcome to New Orleans Reception" at Mardi Gras World provided the festive atmosphere. (No, I didn’t really know how long until Mardi Gras, but the Mardi Gras World website happens to have a real-time countdown.) The reception, sponsored by Orion Transit Buses and Allison Transmission Inc., gave everyone the opportunity to walk among the spectacular floats, sculptures and props used for carnivals and parades. While enjoying some traditional local foods, a band provided an evening of entertainment. It’s always great fun to see old friends and to meet new ones and to hear about what’s happening at the different agencies and companies. Like everyone else, we have a full schedule and are out and about trying to meet with as many people as possible. If we haven’t had the opportunity to meet you, be sure to stop by our booth 3412 to introduce yourself, pick up a copy of our September/October issue (featuring this year’s Top 40 Under 40) and a copy of today’s Show Daily. Be sure to check out our Expo photo gallery at MassTransitMag.com to see the latest event photos!