by Tweetie Lynn
I just realized that I had never submitted a newbie/con virgin report for my 1st Con in (2012) Dallas (Oops), but luckily I did submit my pictures from that wonderful event for the Dallas Con page!
As a 2nd timer, I was definitely more relaxed going into the MN BATB 2014 Con. Since I had met so many people at my 1st con in Dallas, Tx., I was happy that I would be seeing a lot of them at this con. What made it even more fun was that I found out recently that Pat L and I live in the same state, only 1 town away from each other! So it was a delight that I was able to hitch a ride from her to come to the con, by driving this time, instead of the 24 hour train ride to the Dallas Con!
Since Pat L. was on the con committee, I got to see the many behind the scenes work it takes into making a Beauty and The Beast Convention fabulous since we had arrived one day earlier. It was wonderful to be able to help out in cutting the name tags, and putting the strings in the little holes (lol) to make a hanging name tag. It was lovely to see all the names on the tags, all the tunnel people who were able to make it to this year's con and that I was looking forward to seeing again, as well as meeting those that I hadn't met yet. It was also fun to be able to help out with pricing of items, to be sold in the dealers room by marking the cute, little orange stickers.
For the MN con, this was my 1st time in being able to attend the pre-con and post-con add on activities. During my 1st convention in Dallas,Tx, I was only able to attend the con 3 day activities, so it was amazing to be able to relax and enjoy a longer time hanging out with my tunnel family.
I remember at my 1st con in Dallas, I was very nervous and shy. I had arrived at the Dallas Hotel,Thursday late afternoon and had found a lot of Beauty and the Beast folk already gathering in a big group in the lobby. I remember sitting in a chair looking over at the group, wondering how to go about introducing myself, especially since not everyone is online and might not know who "Tweetie" is. Luckily, Laura G. came and saved the day, as she happened to come out from the con room (where the con committee was working fervently to get everything prepared ) and introduced me! Whew!
This year, it was even better, because no longer being a con virgin/newbie, I knew what to expect and since I had met a lot of people already, it was like "Hi, Great to see you again!" followed by wonderful hugs!!
There were so many wonderful things to enjoy at the MN Con. I really LOVED the Folk Dancing. I didn't know what to expect, but it was so much fun. It was great to see so many people participate. I'm glad I was coordinated enough to follow the directions... lol... because we all worked together so nicely. I hope someone recorded some of the dancing !
What can I say but that everything was planned so beautifully. I loved the games, beast bingo, the variety show, craft making, The French Beauty and the Beast film that Claire so graciously shared with us, the Charity Auction , the dealers room, all the amazing show costumes (love Vincent's cloak), the ice breakers, the George R. R. Martin panel, The Beauty and the Beast comparison segment presented very well by my roomie Rosemarie, Roy Dotrice surprising us all by calling on the phone, the banquet and candle lighting ceremony, the delicious meals provided by the hotel, the special treat we get to see only by attending the con..., etc., etc... pretty much everything!! Unfortunately, I missed seeing David Greenlee on Skype, since I was a bit tired and had retired to my room for a bit, but I was happy I got to hear Roy Dotrice "Father" on the phone!!
The post con add-ons were terrific. I took the bus tour of the city, Gangster Style, with the tour guide dressed as a gangster. I didn't take the Paddle Boat tour since water/boats and I don't get along well. But the bus driver was so nice and let me stay on the bus and we even got burgers together. Yup, it was cool! He asked if I had any burger preference, and I had said that Burger King was fine. The tour guide, who we had dropped off back at this office had said that a Burger King was nearby. I had told the bus driver that I had heard him say he wanted White Castle, so I said, "Hey, can we do both?" And he said , "Sure!" So off we went! It was so much fun because I had the WHOLE bus to MYSELF!! I felt like I was being chauffeured in a bus! (Chuckle) It was Great!!
Then the next day, all the tunnel folk who had opted to go on the cave tours, amazingly got up early to be in the lobby by 8am!
We all gathered and got loaded on the bus, for our hour long drive to Spring Valley,WI for the Crystal Cavern Adventures Above and Below Cave tour. I had never gone on a cave tour before, so I was very excited. I knew when I went into the cave, I would imagine that it was Vincent, Catherine, Mouse, Father and all the tunnel people who were "living" there!! We were then specially treated to a wonderful viewing of the 1940's Cocteau black and white Beauty and The Beast film on the bus.They had little tv's connected to various segments of the bus for our viewing pleasure. I had never seen the original film, so it was quite interesting.
Then finally we had arrived at our destination and we separated into three groups, all color coded, by wearing wrists band, It was so cold that many went to buy sweatshirts from the gift shop which was kinda neat because the sweatshirts had the Crystal Cavern on it, along with a bat emblem since these caves are known for their bat inhabitants. I don't think if it wasn't that chilly that day, that a whole bunch of our tunnel folk would run to the gift shop to grab sweatshirts. It reminded me how cold it must have been for our show's tunnel dwellers to live and survive "Below!" The costume designer of our show always made our tunnel dwellers look so wonderful in their layering of clothes, with an almost Renaissance Feel... As for me, since I get cold pretty easily and I was warned/advised that it would be in the low 50's in the caves, I made sure I dressed with a multitude of layers, even more so than usual... lol!
The caves were fascinating ! It was amazing to be going down 70 feet below the earth's surface, inch by inch, stair case by stair case. It really felt like I was in Vincent's World, with all the chambers and tunnel passage ways.
There were spots in the cave that reminded me of scenes from CBS Beauty and The Beast. The closed off chamber tunnel, with the wooden gate, definitely reminded me of the Metal Gate where Vincent and Catherine would meet. I took a pic and will upload my pics soon to BATBLAND. There were spots in the cave that reminded me of scenes from "Shades Of Gray", even the little entrance where Father and Vincent crawled before the cave collapsed. It was "Magical" to be touring a "Real" cave where you can feel as if you were in Vincent's World!
When I went to the gift shop, being on a tight budget, I had to be very selective on what I could get. I found a beautiful, not too expensive, crystal piece that I loved. I will post a pic of that too on BATBLAND. It's not a separate crystal like the one that Vincent gave to Catherine, but it's as if it was the piece that was still embedded in the cave rock before Vincent chose it. You will see what I mean when you see the pic. :) I love it dearly!
Next,after have lunch "on top" in the picnic area (back above the cave grounds), consisting of yummy sandwiches, we were off on the bus again to ride back to MN for the Wabasha Street Cave tour. This was a tour of sandstone caves, where we learned all about the history of how they came to be.
Happy, but tired, after the great tours, we were taken back to our hotel. Then someone suggested getting together for our last meal, so a few hours later, those that wished, met at a nice restaurant in Mall of America! It was a great way to celebrate our wonderful time at the convention together and to see each other again, before we all dashed off in different directions, in the morning to get back home, by car or airplane.
A nice surprise when I got back to the lobby after the Final Dinner was seeing "Vincent" (Lisa all adorned beautifully in her Vincent Costume) standing in the lobby hallway, holding a rose. I heard Lisa doesn't normally dress up , after the convention activities, but I think she may have dressed up specially for Skippy (Our Australian Tunnel Dweller), if I heard correctly... >wink,wink< (heard whispered thru' the grapevine). I may be incorrect,but that is what I heard... :)
Well, of course, you can imagine the "Picture Opportunities"!! Flashbulbs were going everywhere!! On-lookers in the lobby (top siders) were all gasping and smiling wondering what was going on. Tunnel folk were getting in line for their picture opportunity with Vincent. We caused a slight traffic jam in the hallway... lol... as hotel passerbys came through! It was GREAT FUN AND A GREAT NIGHT CAP to End the Day!
If anyone is thinking of attending their First Convention, by all means, get to One! You will not regret it! It's a SPECIAL WEEK!!
As the button that Teresa Miller, con newbie/virgin from the 2013 Ohio Con, gave to all the 2014 Con Attendees, states : It's a ... HAZE OF HAPPINESS!! :)
has already shared part of her photographs,