Of Love & Hope
A Summerfest Family Reunion
By Sharon

I was heartbroken that I had missed
the 2001 Convention
"Once upon a time in New York City:
A Homecoming"
especially after 9/11,
knowing that our beloved Manhattan,
the city we have all come to know and love,
through Catherine and Vincent's eyes,
would never be the same again.
So...when I found out,
that two of my on-line friends
were going to Kansas City Missouri,
for the 15th Annual Beauty and the Beast Convention
I had to go, and...it was to be my first Con.
Without too much convincing,
my husband and two boys, were behind me,
telling me that I should go.
Well, it wasn't long before I was winging my way
to The Hotel Phillips, for the
"Of Love & Hope: A Summerfest Family Reunion".
As I nervously walked into the Phillips Room N.
I was instantly reminded why I was there.
There were two huge tapestries
of our beautiful Vincent
hanging on the wall of the conference room.
And, it was perfect that Lori Hicks,
the Convention Chairperson
and JoAnn Baca her right hand,
were the first that I encountered.
They made me feel very welcome,
and presented me with my Virgin Con gift bag,
that was full of wonderful goodies,
Shelia had put together!
One of my favorite items, was a poster of
the Vincent and Catherine painted portrait,
by Kristopher Gentian.
It was then that Shelia walked in
and I was able to meet her too.
She later was joined by her darling Grandson,
who was with us for much of the convention.
Because it was lunch time, no one else was there,
except for an elegantly posed, life-size Vincent doll,
who was seated in a chair at the threshold!
What a wonderful touch.
(I must confess...that from the back, I thought it was a live person
sitting there, and that they were having a very bad hair day!)
As everyone began to come back from lunch,
I loved meeting Pixie,
(Who tried to help me find my room, and in our search, I told her that
I loved the hilarious story she had written "William's Beans and
along with Annette,
(who turned out to be my Ebay connection.
And thank you Annette for my surprise!)
(who was so sweet, and also a con virgin!)
Winter Rose,
(an Ohio neighbor, whom I hope to see again.)
(who I loved meeting.)
(My other roomie, who gave me a few treasures
which I will always cherish. Thank you Sue)
Verla Beaty,
(I met Verla through the CABB Forum,
and she provided me with a missing episode that I needed!
Thank you again Verla...oh yes,
and also for finding that mp3 that I needed for my home page!)
And after a few almost run-ins...I finally found Lynn Aoki!
(Lynn came all the way from Japan!
I never dreamed that I would actually ever get to meet her)
In fact, I was talking to my Mom on my phone,
when we finally caught up with one another.
I was standing by the elevator,
when the door opened, and out walked Lynn!
It was the first time we were meeting,
and I think I blew my poor Mom's ear out
as I screamed and greeted Lynn!
It was wonderful and such a thrill
to meet both Lynn and Verla,
after so many years of writing emails to each other.
As we all milled around our convention room,
we had time to sit on Vincent's lap,
grab some coffee,
check out the Art work,
memorabilia for the auction,
and the many items for sale on the Orphans Table.
I also met other Beauty and the Beast fans,
who's names were familiar to me.
Either because of their posts on the lists,
the fanfic they had written,
or artwork I have admired!
What an experience it was to actually meet them.
When I met Sigma, I had to tell her,
that her Beauty and the Beast site
was one of the first sites
that I remember finding online,
and it is still one of my favorite sites to reference.
We then settled in at our table
to play Beast Bingo,
where our Bingo fees went to our chosen charity,
Shadow Buddies.
It was then that the wonderful
Vincent music videos played.
It was difficult to pay attention to my card,
because all I wanted to do was watch the videos.
We later did a group reading of
"Sleepless in Providence"
and it was wonderful!
The next day was filled with workshops,
such as quilling with Winter Rose,
and Chan's fun with bread.
Both crafts in which we made roses!
It was very fun, and then
Saturday night after the auction,
the costume contest was held.
Yes! Mary, aka Tunnelmom won!
She wore a replica of the night shirt
that Catherine wore in Orphans.
Which was always one of my favorite tunnel fashions!
It was after the contest that I was pleased
to meet Pat Jackson,
who had come all the way from Texas.
I also enjoyed talking with Pat Wittenbrink
who had some great Roy Dotrice stories.
I could have listened to her all night.
The next day was packed full of
wonderful events.
We took a field trip to the Crown Center,
where we were surprised to find that Lori
had her Beauty and the Beast collection
set up in an exhibit!
Back at the hotel,
I loved the drawing workshop,
that was hosted by Sandy Tew,
and the Vincent makeup demo by Lisa Gould!
(When she was finished, she looked exactly like Vincent!)
It was so remarkable!
I was awestruck
by some of the other talented people as well.
Pixie entertained us with her beautiful voice,
along with Winter, and Jesse & KG.
Rosemarie read poetry,
wearing the beautiful outfit that Linda wore
in the pilot...
and all I can say is that it was magical.
As the group of us shared meals, games, crafts,
and watched videos, including "The Video"!!
Once in a while,
I would look around at all of us gathered there,
and I was struck by the fact
that we were all compelled to travel there,
to be together.
Some of us traveled farther than others did,
but any question as to why we were there,
was answered on our final night together
at our banquet.
As we entered the Dining Hall,
the Winterfest scene from "Dead of Winter"
played on the screen.
And so, we too passed the light
from each of our Winterfest candles,
until every last candle had been lit.
As our darkness was pushed back,
it brought it all home for me.
We were there because we loved
this enchanting show,
that ended so tragically, and much too soon.
It touched all of our hearts, and then broke them.
But with all of us being there,
united in our love of
Vincent and Catherine's story,
we allow them to live on,
where they can live out the happy life
we long for them to have...
forever and happily ever after.