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