I'm sending along my report and pictures from the Baggins' Birthday party in Calgary, Alberta. I'm having a great time reading all the wonderful birthday reports that are coming in! Thanks for all the hard work you all put into TORn.
The report follows:
Sept. 22, 2002
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The day started off on a rather grey note. In Alberta this time of year is always a gamble weather-wise, and although I had checked the weather report the night before and was assured that we would have reasonable temperatures the following day, I was greeted with cloudy skies, high winds, and a spattering of rain. It seemed Mother Nature was attempting to deny us our outdoor party, but not having made alternate indoor arrangements and not being able to contact everyone who planned to show up, I was determined to go down to our picnic site at Edworthy Park and sit there in rain, sleet or snow.
In true Wizard style, the organizers (myself included) were neither late nor early. We arrived exactly when we meant to -- at 11:15 am. The picnic, however, was scheduled to start at 11 am. Oops.
After a short trek to the site, we began setting out food containers, tubs of ice for beverages, and generally scoped out the area. Lucky for us, the trees formed a natural windbreak, protecting us from the worst of the wind. The firewood the City was supposed to provide for us was nowhere to be found, so two intrepid volunteers popped off to a nearby gas station to procure a few cords of wood. There was no way we were going to get through the day without a fire. It was feeling a bit too much like winter in the Shire.
But hardy Canuks are not scared away by inclement weather for long! The bulk of our attendees began to arrive around 12:30, and by 1 o'clock we had a good fire going, and a barbeque was set up for cooking hamburgers and boiling water (for hot chocolate). We burned hot dogs over the fire pit, and most people huddled around the same pit, braving the blowing ash which got into everyone's eyes (but not on any tomatoes).
Almost everyone contributed to the potluck, and some people went above and beyond the call of duty in their contributions. We had a wonderful array of salads, pies, squares, chips, suckers (in the shape of rings), hamburgers (meat and veggie), hot dogs, drinks (cold and hot) and even a carrot cake emblazoned with the message "Happy Birthday, Bilbo and Frodo." We clearly did not have enough hobbits present, however, as there was a huge assortment of food left over -- so much so that people were attempting to pawn off their contributions on others in the hopes of avoiding bringing it all back home again.
Harry, one of the contributors who came incredibly prepared (I'm still amazed at all the great things he and a few other people thought to bring along), brought the One Ring itself, forever vanquishing any doubts as to how it fits on so many different sizes of fingers. That thing is *huge.* ...And it floats, apparently. All Sauron had to do was deflate it a bit and *poof,* he had a tighter fit! FC helped to forge the One Ring of Power by inscribing the band with the appropriate Tengwar lettering.
We chatted and laughed for most of the afternoon, talking about everything from The Lord of the Rings to Japanese animation to the weather to a hobbit's resiliency in bad weather. Yep, we were just a tiny bit focussed.
Eventually we got around to the planned trivia contests. Everyone participated in both the movie and book-based rounds with varying degrees of success, and one woman in particular stood out from the rest
-- I don't think she got one question wrong! We had planned to hold a draw for prizes separate from the trivia contests, but urged on by the participants we merged the events and just kept drawing names until everything was distributed. Jessica, the young woman who answered the questions so beautifully, had first pick, of course, and took away a guide to Tolkien's works and a Gandalf bookmark. Happily, there was a little something for everyone. Talk about a fluke! After all, what would a hobbit party be without gifts for all the guests?
A few stragglers joined us late in the afternoon, just in time for selected readings from some LotR parodies. It seems they had actually been the first people on site in the morning, and we missed them by about five minutes. We were glad that they decided to come back out.
Although at the last minute our medieval recreation volunteers were unable to join us, that didn't stop us from staging our own recreations
-- Mo-chan brought along two of his "practise" swords (hollow cardboard tubes, I believe, wrapped in duct tape), and they got a good workout. We ended the afternoon with Mo-chan and CEG tossing around the One Ring, although I choose to believe that they were staging Sauron's loss of the Ring to Isildur.
Sadly, I have fallen to this One Flotation Device of Power, which has found a new home with me.
The fires were doused and the site was cleaned up by 5 pm, allowing the last surviving attendees to stumble happily away and drop, exhausted, in their own hobbit holes.
All in all, it was a successful afternoon. Approximately 22 to 25 people made it out to the park, and everyone appeared to have a good time. My thanks to all the Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, Humans and Orcs that came, and most especially to everyone who helped organize and/or contributed to the party.
Valin Nosta, Bilbo ar Frodo!