LANDOVER, Md. (WJLA) - Traffic clogged the Beltway in Prince George's County on Friday, largely due to an international convention of Jehovah's Witnesses that filled two-thirds of FedEx Field.
Organizer Oliver Grigsby says different kingdom halls intentionally drove different routes to the stadium, in hopes of easing congestion.
"Because we understand we're 60,000," he said. "So, we want to do what we can to be friendly to the community and welcome others as well."
The three-day convention is truly an international affair. Couple Humberto and Julyenne Castilho came to Landover from Brazil, while missionaries Leonard and Nancy Ellis traveled all the way from eastern Africa.
"It brought me to tears to see the thousands who are here wanting to worship God," Nancy Ellis said.
Although it is clogging local roadways, the conference is certainly stimulating the local economy. Officials say the eventthe largest in Prince George's County this yearwill generate more than $17 million in direct spending, including nearly 20,000 hotel rooms booked by attendees across the Washington, D.C. area.
The crowd of 60,000 Jehovah's Witnesses will return to FedEx Field on Saturday and Sunday. Both days, the conference runs from about 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.