It’s always interesting to sit down and write these posts at the end of a con.
It’s silent in my apartment, roughly 48 hours after I took off my radio for the last time in Convention Operations at the BCC. I can still hear the attention getting beep and the words, “Con Ops to Terry” constantly echoing in my head. My feet are still tired, my bones still ache from the combination of stress, lack of sleep and dehydration, and I’m still dozing off any time I sit down for more than 10 minutes. I haven’t yet processed that the show we spent more than a year planning is over.
The weekend was chaotic, everywhere we turned the engines that run the show were going at full blast. We set some insanely high expectations this year. The return of an entire cadre of popular guests. A massive marketing and branding campaign. A huge push to get more staff, a juggling act of convention layout modifications and a big upswing in industry partners and fellow conventions. Programming was insane this year, so many premieres, so many panels, returns of popular acts and trying out crazy new events. Did anyone catch the live musical performance done against a backdrop of the live action cinema? The return of MAT3K?
We experimented here and there, and some of those experiments were hits, others were not. Some harsh lessons were learned or relearned – but at the end of the day the members seemed to enjoy themselves. I saw the Otakon 20 balloons all over the Opening ceremonies, and there was a confetti cannon at the Saturday concert. It’s not pyrotechnics, but it’ll do. We had huge banners in the streets, the city was lit up blue, and there were even Otakon themed manhole cover decals on the street.
We got together a bunch of folks who influenced the start of the industry together, and we got the previous con chairs together as well. Having the Four Fathers of Otakon together on the same stage to talk about how the con got started, and having all of those who came afterwards and built on what they started — it was a fond nostalgia bomb that warmed the heart.
I’m tired, there’s no denying that we really pushed it this year. We took a lot of risks, and then the staff poured in their hearts and souls to make it all happen. I’m filled with a sense of relief and great fulfillment – because we DID it.
From the point I arrived on Tuesday until I got on the train on Monday, it seemed like a non stop bounce from point to point dealing with things that needed attention. We dodged some pretty significant meteors this year. When I was told that we had surpassed last year’s membership numbers on the first DAY of the convention, I was floored. By the time Sunday rolled around and I stood in the back watching Yoko Kanno perform, a wave of relief washed over me when I realized we’d done it. Tears came pouring out of my eyes as a year’s worth of stress finally rolled off my shoulders, tension that I hadn’t really realized had been bound up for so long.
There’s no possible way I could thank everyone who made this show possible. To my staff, your passion and drive to make things happen is second to none. More importantly, the sheer amount of heart that you display — going without food and sleep, giving up your own time and con so others can experience it, always putting the membership in front of your own needs and wants –how can I even begin to describe how special you all are?
A very special thanks to my associate convention chairs, Jennifer Piro and John Gluth. You are not my right and left hands, you are my partners and equals, and never a moment passed when one of you two was not flying off to be where I couldn’t be. To Andrew Earnhardt, president of Otakorp, Inc, you gave me the immense honor of trusting me to head up this behemoth. To my division directors; Lucky, Lee, Robin, Lauren, Michael, Rachel, Scott and Jim — we did it. We survived. How could I POSSIBLY thank you all enough?
To the guests who come to us from around the country and across the oceans – thank you so much. You honor us with your presence, your knowledge, and your talent. Artists, directors, producers, actors, musicians — you inspire us with your creativity and your artistry. One special note – Yoko Kanno, your performance made me cry tears of joy on Sunday, and your music was a soothing balm to my nerves.
To the industry partners that come to us every year, full of understanding and ideas that rock our world, thank you. Our contractors, who bring so many specialized talents, without you huge gears that make this ship go would be missing. To Baltimore and the BCC, our home for 15 years, who truly painted the city blue for our arrival, bravo!
And really, to you the members. To the over 34000 members of Otakon, thank you. To the old friends who returned, to the new friends we have discovered, to those who have gone before us and to the family that we have become – thank you all for an amazing 20th Otakon.
WE MADE IT
AUGUST 9-10-11, 2013