OK, It' been awhile. My job has kept me busy.
Many of us made the trek to Wilkes-Barre on March 11th. A whole mini van full of forum members left my house midmorning on the 10th. We picked up JimM in Harrisburg PA as he came in on a train. Glenn and Tony came in to Boston on a plane. Others came by car. About 10 of us were there that night and many more arrived the next day. Here is part of Scott's review. enjoy!
The night of the 10th we had dinner together. Some at a nice Japanese place and others at the place across the way that had more standard fare. The Japanese place was new and the chef put on a good show cooking it right at our table. Mmmmm, Filet and scallops. Nice onion volcano! It was a great night with wonderful conversation.
Some of these folks I have never met before but only knew through the forum. I have to say I am so impressed with these guys. All have been such great supporters and contributors of the enchanted forest and most especially to Mairead. These guys really are honorable men who have great respect for Mairead and all of the artists.
The day of the show arrives. Breakfast and then time to start getting ready with all the gifts and things to have signed. Organizing the event has been 7 months in the making. Now all the detail work. I had printed several nice Mairead photos out before I left home. Some would be for forum members and others to be signed for forum members who had made requests for their kids as well as overseas members. I brought a copy of the Mairead calendar we had printed up for charity donations to Oxfam and gave it to Scott T since it contained mostly his work. Also were the new DVDs and CDs that PBS sent as gifts. I brought a Christmas CD with ornament for a door prize. Also, Dave burned some copies of the WGBH PBS show last fall where Mairead, Lynn, and Orlagh appeared, and gave them to members. I brought three copies of Mairead CDs to have signed for forum contests. I had 20 fiddler crossing signs made up and laminated to hand out to forum members for the show. I also brought three copies of Tamberia's poetry book to sell, but one as a gift with Card for Mairead. There were 20 copies of Liv's CD to sell, and also an envelope for donations to Mairead's birthday gift. I spent time putting post-it notes on photos so they could be personalized to those they go to.
Folks start to arrive at the hotel while Scott-N3sjh and Dave delivered gifts and things to be signed that night ahead of time to the venue. This is a good time to thank Stephen Poremba from Wachovia arena for asssiting us in getting things in ahead of time. Rachel was so helpful with making it happen too.
Kim/KAJ and her parents arrived at the hotel and we all started to gather at the room I booked for our event about 30 minutes before to set things up. We have a nice cheese platter, vegetable platter and soft drinks to tide us over until dinner at five. Folks shared so much of the memorabilia they had and there was great conversation at the various tables. I popped in the Olivia DVD from her Ourimba concert as background for awhile. Door prizes were drawn. New member and first time concert goer Edtom wound up with Starman's ticket, so his first event is second row with meet and greet. Starman we missed you but thank you so much for your kindness. Dinner was ordered at 4 as pre-arranged and then served around 5. After dinner time to get ready. Oops, MeavMan, sorry it took so long to get you into the room!
Off to the show in three vehicles. We arrive and as pre-arranged drop off cameras for later with Rachel. She was in such a happy mood. The security folks at the arena were very helpful and all went smoothly. Wickie brought some gifts and all were set aside along with our goodies from earlier for the after concert event. We make our way to our seats which are in the first three rows on the floor. I gave some of the better seats to others but row C was still pretty darn good. The lights go down and we know what comes next.
To a person, every member present said this was the most amazing experience and far and away the best meet & greet ever for them.
First, it appears that WVIA sold a few more meet & greets than one was led to expect. Close to 50 I would figure. However, no big deal. It brought a little question in my head about the pre-arranged plans though. Well Ginny did just fine but she sure was finding it a challenge to herd all the cats! We get to the room and they have free refreshments. I wait for that though to chat with PBS and venue people about the course of events. Some are a bit unclear but OK. We look around for our boxes of stuff and they aren't there so I inquire from a venue person and they get the things brought down. Rachel brings the remaining items to us. We've really given her added work throughout all of this and she has been so gracious and accommodating. They keep a large tote of nuts in shell, dried fruit, and specialty chocolate brought to the venue earlier. We have one tote of gifts and items to be signed that we all put items in. Tony brought a huge CW Christmas poster that we all signed either at the hotel or did so here. I grabbed a fiddler crossing sign that we all signed as a thank you to Rachel. Cameras are returned to us and we wait for another group to get through with their part of the meet & greet.
We start as I present Rachel with her signed fiddler crossing sign. Mairead and Chloe as well as Rachel light up on that one. Next three of us unroll the huge poster and I say happy first MaireadFest and merry Christmas to Mairead. They're all a bit shocked by the size and seem very touched. So, now everyone gets in line and starts making their way through. Scott N3sjh and Jim Allen handle the photography but many join in as they get through the line. Candid, but not posed photos are allowed for this special event. No shortage of flashes going off! Each person has a highlight of their own from this. But a few bear a special comment here.
Wickie brought some really sweet stuffed critters for all the ladies to snuggle with in their bunks. I can't wait to see the photos of Mairead snuggling with her critter. Another special one was Glenn/Rotten Rebel who flew, wheelchair and all, from California to give Mairead the most beautiful real rose dipped in porcelain and gilded along with a lovely pendant. He then gave Chloe a very pretty cross pendant and earring set with what appeared to be amethyst stones. Wonderful sentiment! By far the most special though was the meeting of Kim/KAJ and Chloe. So many have had a hand in making this possible, and so many prayers went up. Oh my there were a lot of wet faces in that room. Kim told some sweet stories to Chloe and Mairead and gave them some gifts. A night that not many, least of all Kim, will not soon forget. Scott has his Mairead calendar signed and she was able to connect to the one whose graphics helped create them. She received one from the forum at the signing in Baton Rouge.
Well, my own turn came last. I brought some gifts from forum members and gave them to Mairead. I had a stack of stuff to have signed but just did a few things. The first grasp of hands lasted quite awhile and she was just lit up. She still has quite a grip that I remember from the last meeting. There were close to 20 photos to sign for kids and foreign members, so Rachel took them for her to sign prior to my seeing her again in New York City. Two special pieces to sign though. One was a gift from Scott Taylor of a Skate For The Heart program, and the other an old fiddle missing some pices but with the body still intact. She signed both and I told her they would be put on auction with the proceeds going to her Oxfam charity in her name and that of her forum. I moved over to Chloe and it was my first meeting with her. She is just delightful. How could you not love her?!
During all of this tons of photos were being taken. I saw a few Mr. Peabody took and they are lovely. A couple of really special ones though. I gathered the gang for our group shot. Before that though Mairead and Chloe wanted to say something to us. They both said the most wonderful things about our group there and the Mairead Forum in general. Their graciousness in doing that will rest forever in the hearts of all those present. Thank you so much. Naturally we had Chloe next to Kim, and Wickie was next to Mairead with me in the middle of those pairs and Glenn in his chariot in front of us. I can't wait to see those. The other group of fans was awaiting the girls so Rachel was ready to move on to them. Not before a really amazing hug from Mairead though. Her hug is as strong as her grip. Thank you Mairead so very much for that lovely embrace.
We made our way out and everyone was just beaming, each with their own special momemt from their encounters with these two gifted artists. We had been given a great gift for which we will be forever grateful. One final part to wrap it up.