When: June 23-26, 2011
Where: Pittsburgh, PA
Hotel: Westin

It's the furry Worldcon.

Date (official): Thursday June 23-June 26
Date (real): Wednesday June 22-June 27
Theme: the Anthropomorphic Institute of Magic

As many of you know, last year was the last year we gave out the MIG tags (who knew when we started, that they would become furry bling). We were going to do something new this year, and the furs were getting impatient to find out what the “new” big thing was going to be. Unfortunately, they will need to wait until next year as the items (no, I’m not going to tell you what they are – if they have to wait, so do you) were held up in Chinese Customs for an extra week and didn’t make it to us until the day we got home. I requested a minute at opening ceremonies to give folks the bad news. In general they took it very well, though some of the bribes we were offered to tell people what they are, were very hard to turn down (one item was a bottle of 30 yr old scotch; very tempting).

Every year we get some new challenges, this year was no exception. We narrowly dodged the bullet of an outdoor parade, because the city only has one authorized parade route, and ours wasn’t it. However, during the pre-con discussions we were able to re-do the inside route by reversing the route we used in past years. The picture was taken at the beginning not the end, and it is far easier for the full suiters to go up the escalators than down. Also, by ending in the main ball room, they ended in an air conditioned room, with water stations already set-up, and a headless lounge across the lobby. For the first time ever, we didn’t have a single heat related medical incident from the parade.

Another change from past years was that Uncle Kage, (wisely) decided that rather than waiting for the con to grow to 5000, and being forced to take on City EMS services, that he would do so this year. The EMS crew stationed themselves in the dealer’s room loading dock area, there is actually a room back there that has been set aside for them (we are far from the only con that needs them).

Overall, this year went fairly smoothly from a furry perspective. We didn’t have a baseball team sharing our space; instead we overlapped a little with the coal miners as we did our first year in Pittsburgh. They gave us very few problems, and the con picked up several one-day memberships because of them. No instead most of our issues this year were mundane related. The people of Pittsburgh are really trying hard to understand and embrace the furs who invade them every year leaving little bits of fur, and lots of money behind. This year, a local radio station had the bright idea (without checking with the con first) to use the furs as a part of a contest. What they told their listeners was to get their pictures taken with three fur suiters and they would be entered into a drawing for tickets to an upcoming U2 concert tickets. This wasn’t so bad, in and of itself, but it caused for more than a little congestion in the lobby and in the streets around the DLCC.

Operationally we fine tuned things a bit from last year. We are still running the two OPS offices (Westin Crawford room, and DLCC). We had some communications problems last year when the Duty Officer stayed at the DLCC until closing – it was noticed that there we many more times that the DO was needed at the Westin in the evening rather than the DLCC where the only real programming activity was the dance after the dealers/art-show shut down. This year we (usually) moved the DO position back to the Crawford room at the 1800 shift change. I say usually because the DO going off-duty often stayed behind at the DLCC for an hour or two until things settled down.

We also added a new duty post to handle the OPS room. It was intended that this person, handle the log and radio calls so the DO could respond as needed. I only scheduled this post for the expected busy times, but next year it will probably be scheduled for the whole con. As it was, we often rotated this person with people at the elevators. Next year there will also be a post at the alternate OPS office as well. It was thought that the hotel Sgt. would work out of the Crawford room during the day, but this turned out to be wishful thinking on our part. While it can work OK early in the day, it doesn’t work at all in the evening; even when the DO is back at the hotel.

One last item of interest that shows some of the positive influence we are having on the fur community. AC has adopted our toast ‘To Absent Friends’ into their culture. Starting this year, there will be a regular programming item where the furs will gather to remember those of their community that have passed. This year there were almost 50 at the gathering, several of them from our crew. Furp, and several others were remembered. It wasn’t exactly a solemn occasion, but if they were going to borrow from us, I’m glad to see this tradition passed on. For most of us, the con ends with the traditional shore-leave party. While we still have some official duties, we go to a much reduced staffing level, and try to swap everyone out so they get a chance to attend the party. Each year we seed the party with the ‘tip’ that Kage gives to us. This year was no exception, and we had a fine bar. Contributions were also generous and the party lasted until almost 5 AM when we kicked out the last of the drunks.

Seems hard to believe we’ll be doing it again less than 9 months.

-- Rene Gobeyn, DI
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