Posted by D. Martin on August 28, 2010 at 11:38 AM CST
I was fortunate enough to be the first staff member on the ground in Orlando. At previous Celebrations, I'd get in the night before and hit the ground running. But this time I was happy to have a day to "get my legs" so to speak. If you were following my Twitter feed, then you probably saw the first pictures from the event, even before many people had left for the airport. (You also heard my woes of the shuttle bus that I was riding on, hitting a pole! And my meeting with Billy 'D'!)

This was my third Celebration, and my third time getting our convention guide setup prior to the event. So by the time the show rolled around, I had already planned out what I wanted to buy, get, see and do. But as many people know, a plan is only as good as its execution.

I definitely was heading into this Celebration with a different end-game than previous ones. I still wanted to pick up some exclusive merchandise, but it was lower down on my list. I definitely wanted to see the art prints that I'd been posting about for so long. And being able to see these in person, as opposed to pixels on my monitor was amazing. The Celebration V Artists are truly a talented bunch. What I was really looking forward to was the fan interaction. I wanted to see all my virtual friends in the flesh, and get the chance to meet more.

I had a great time hanging out on Thursday night with some of the Rebelscum and TFN staff members plus a great group of friends at the Fans of the ForceCast party. I got to talk to a number of Star Wars artists, authors, and other creators about all things in-and-out of the Star Wars universe. I attended some real thought provoking panels, such as Dave Filoni's The Dark Side Clouds Everything or the Why We Love The Prequels discussion.

I was also scheduled each day to help out at the DC Metro Area Star Was Collecting Club booth. For those that may have missed us (or not known which booth was which) we were the ones that had a miniature golf putting ramp decorated like the Death Star trench from A New Hope (complete with TIE Fighter) and when people got a hole in one, they received one-fifth of a Boba Fett CV patch (that we were giving out in conjunction with four other area Fan Clubs). We also had a photo-op where you could place your head thru a poster and have your picture taken as Luke hanging upside down in the Wampa cave. Again, this was an amazing way to interact with the fans, meeting new friends, trying to recruit others from the Maryland or Virginia area that did not know about us, and giving back to the community at large.

And for the first time I had people seeking me out. Not just to say 'hi,' but to get some ForceCast pins I was giving out daily. These pins became quite a hot item, each one having a quote from the ForceCast podcast on them. The 'Holy Filoni' pin (which I had on Saturday) was so popular, a certain supervising director wanted to make sure I was able to get him a few before they ran out. Late on Sunday I was approached by a guy who new my name, which after four days of people calling out to you was not a surprise. I was getting pretty good at recognizing the faces of people that I saw each day and being able to greet them, but not this guy. He stood for a minute, and indicated his face - like I should recognize him. It was then that I realized this was my best friend Brian from high school whom I hadn't seen in over 20 years! He had flown in from California and had been at the show with his family all four days. He had been looking for me he said, and we finally just ran into each other. How cool was that!

Sometimes I wish that there was more time for hanging out with all the people I'd like to see at a Celebration. Maybe 4 days of show and 4 days of socializing is the way it should be. There's always way more to see and do than any one person can fit into a day (didn't Sansweet say 620 hours worth?), so I prioritize and now that any coverage I miss live, I have a great team here at the site that will be filling me in. You see, that whole 'No Fan Left Behind' thing also applies to us as well.
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