Creation Entertainment’s Salute To Supernatural Convention 2009 Review
To say that I had a good time at the Salute to Supernatural Convention in Chicago last weekend (November 13th-15th) would be a disgraceful understatement! I had never experienced a Creation Convention of such magnitude. My friends and I decided to go to Chicago a day early and try to get some site seeing in. As we sat at JFK airport waiting for our plane to start boarding, we noticed someone quite familiar. Upon closer investigation we realized it was Christopher Schemelke, the incredible photographer for all of Creation Entertainment’s conventions. Already it was a good start to our trip. Arriving in Chicago about 2 hours after take off from NYC, I felt a rush of adrenaline and even though we still had a day before the actual convention began I was already feeling the Supernatural buzz!
My friends and I weren’t the only ones to arrive a day early. The hotel was already starting to fill up with Supernatural fans both young and old. It was incredible to be surrounded by people who understood my love for this unique and wonderful show. As with most fans, everyone has his or her favorite character. Some girls were dressed wearing “Sam’s girl” shirts and others wore “Team Dean” shirts. Whatever character one prefers, everyone was there for the same reason – to pay tribute to the actors who keep us entertained every week. Even the hotel bar and restaurant joined in on the Supernatural fun by naming drinks specials after Supernatural characters. Fans had the choice of the “Dean-a-rita,” the “Sam-tini,” the “Winchester Colada” and the infamous “Purple Nurple.” We decided to take it easy for the night, to just sit back and enjoy the new episode of Supernatural airing that night, an episode where Sam and Dean go to a Supernatural convention. Ironic isn’t it?
Friday, November 13, 2009
Friday was the first day of the convention. It was what the people running the convention called “Girls’ Day.” The first event of the day began with a welcome video put together by the fans of Supernatural. Though the videos are always a highlight for many fans, that wasn’t what we were all sitting in our seats anxiously waiting for. Finally Adam Malin, the co-founder of Creation Entertainment, came on stage and introduced the first guest, Alona Tal, otherwise known to fans as “Jo Harvelle.” Alona came onstage bubbly and excited to be there, though not new to the conventions. Alona took a picture of the crowd before beginning her Q&A session, as she wanted to take in the moment almost as much as us fans did. Cameras began flashing and the ballroom became a lightening storm of camera flare. Fans began asking questions about the preview for the following weeks Supernatural episode in which we saw Dean kissing Jo.
Alona smiled and exclaimed that “Abandon All Hope” was her favorite episode to film. Fans snickered because no one questioned why. Alona was the perfect beginning to a semi-intimate weekend with the cast of Supernatural. Following Alona was the Supernatural fandom’s favorite psychic, Traci Dinwiddie. Traci has quickly become one of the most popular convention guests due to her complete openness and true love of the fans. She too took a picture of the sea of fans that filled the grand ballroom at the Wyndham O’Hare hotel. Her Q&A, as expected, went quite well until one fan took it upon herself to announce that none of the fans cared much for the female characters on the show, excluding Traci’s character of the psychic “Pamela Barnes.” This created a roar of anger among the crowd, seeing as how this particular fan claimed to be speaking for all fans. But despite the awkwardness of the moment, Traci held her composure and gave the crowd an extremely entertaining Q&A. Following the two beautiful women, a few further fan videos were shown until it was time for a mini-break. Fans were given the chance to go up to their respective rooms and change for the evening festivities – karaoke!
Friday night karaoke has quickly become one of the most popular events at these conventions, in part because all are welcome to attend. As the night wore on the crowd inside the hotel bar “Maxie’s” grew until there was almost no room to even breathe. Both Traci and Alona jumped at the opportunity to belt out their favorite songs in either a silly or beautiful way. Fans were stunned and awed when Traci sang a Patsy Cline song. Her voice serenaded the crowd and dare I say brought tears to a few people’s eyes. I can only speak for myself, but I know many there were not expecting to hear such a beautiful voice coming from “Pamela Barnes.” Around 2am Karaoke began to die down, fans had to get some sort of sleep in order to be well rested for the next day, for some this was the biggest day, it was “Misha Collins Day!”
Saturday, November 14th, 2009
A slight change of plans occurred. Jake Abel (“Adam Milligan”) was unable to attend. However Creation replaced Jake with a fan favorite, “The Trickster” himself, Richard Speight, Jr. The day began with Richard’s Q&A, where he had the crowds practically on their knees laughing. Richard has always been quite the crowd pleaser and when he began to tell a story about how he found Misha Collins’ underwear in his trailer fans were completely glued to his every word. Though I am sure some were disappointed they were not able to meet Jake Abel, Richard gave them what they came for – a good time and a laugh. He is a true performer and should be a convention staple from here on out. Following Richard was Q&A with Aldis Hodge (“Jake Talley”). He was the biggest surprise for me at the convention. I had never met him before and was not sure what to expect from the actor whose character had killed my beloved Sam during the Season 2 finale. Aldis did not disappoint. Not only was he ten times better looking in person than he was on TV, he was unbelievably entertaining and sweet. The most memorable moment of his Q&A was when fans convinced him to call his girlfriend, who was shopping in New York. Fans showed Aldis how they respected him both as an actor and as a person by including his love into his time on stage! I was pleasantly surprised by how entertained I truly was during his Q&A. Shortly after fans quickly filed into the hallway to get their photo ops with Richard Speight, Jr., this gave all us fans without photo ops a chance to relax and ready ourselves for Jim Beaver!
Of all Supernatural characters there is none more beloved (aside from Sam and Dean) than “Bobby Singer.” Jim Beaver has quickly won the hearts of Supernatural fans everywhere and has become a convention favorite. It is almost as though conventions and Jim Beaver go hand in hand. During the first couple of questions Jim mentioned something as being rude. Then a voice came on the overhead PA and suddenly pandemonium! Fans began leaping to their feet snapping pictures like crazy and screaming! When I finally rose to my feet and looked at the giant screen in front of me I realized what all the chaos was for! Misha Collins was standing by the stage holding a microphone lecturing Jim on his outfit. Misha was dressed in a blazer and a red vest and tie and was looking incredibly daft. He was complaining that Jim was rude for not wearing a tie to his Q&A’s. Moments like these are what make these conventions so wonderful – the little surprises that take place on and off stage.
Around 3:30pm there was a brief break for the fans and the people running the convention. It was time to prepare for Misha Collins. I had the pleasure of being at Misha’s very first convention in Cherry Hill, NJ in March of 2009. The Misha Collins I saw at that convention was a much different man than the one I witnessed in Chicago. The new convention Misha was sarcastic and ate up the fandom as though he had been attending these conventions for years. He insulted a fan from Australia, and even though everyone else seemed to know he was joking the fan seemed to not quite be in on the whole thing.
It is hard to go into too much detail about the little things that went down during Misha’s Q&A but perhaps the one thing that I’d be remiss not to mention is when Misha took a jab at Richard Speight, Jr. for his story about the underwear. Richard, who was still hanging out backstage saw this as his opportunity to retaliate. The two men stood onstage and bantered back and forth for a few minutes giving the fans another great show. Their chemistry was undeniable and even though they had only filmed one episode together, you could tell the two had become really close friends.
Photo ops were next on my to do list. I had bought 4 Misha Collins photo ops. My logic was that because I had been unable to purchase any Jared or Jensen photos, this was the next best thing. The lines were outrageous for the gorgeous angel, but who could blame them? To spend even just a few seconds with that man was good enough for me. Though I will admit the minute I got close enough to look into his big blue eyes, my mind completely blanked. In fact I don’t think I was even able to really look at him.
On to autographs!Oh the beloved and dreaded autograph sessions! My friends and I were in row T for this particular convention and we knew that meant we would have to wait quite a while before we would be able to get Aldis, Richard, Misha or Jim’s autographs. We waited about two hours and then checked to see where the lines were. We found that Aldis, Misha and Richard were on one side of the room and Jim was on the other. Both lines were moving exceptionally slow, which meant the actors were spending time talking to the fans. However, we were getting anxious and tired of waiting. Five hours after the autographs began, finally it was our turn. Aldis was first. As he shook my hand thanking me for the support I could feel my ring dig into my finger because he had such a strong grip. His smile was intoxicating and I could feel my knees begin to quiver! Misha was next, this time I was determined to look at him. I wanted to take in the moment, because I thought it would be the final time I would see him that weekend. He smiled politely at me and signed my merchandise and then it was on to Richard.
In Cherry Hill, New Jersey my friends and I bonded with Richard at the hotel bar over Purple Nurples and we had all kept in touch via Facebook. So when he realized who I was he stopped the entire line and gave me a huge hug and made my friends and I promise we would be in the bar later that night to recreate memories from Cherry Hill. Then it was over to Jim’s line where he spent a few moments talking with us and telling us he had been singing autographs all day but that he was surprised his hand was still working. We relished in the moments we had with each actor, but we knew it was time to head to our rooms to shower and get ready to hang out at the bar as we had promised Richard we would.
At 1:30am, Richard, Misha and Aldis finally made their way into the bar. They had just finished their duties at the Dessert party for the Gold ticket patrons. Aldis and my friend played a friendly game of pool, while Richard and Misha shared a Purple Nurple with a few of the fans. This turned out to be my favorite part of the entire weekend – to hang out with these actors not as people I watched on TV every week, but as regular people just wanting to have a good time.
Around 2:30am, Jim also made an appearance in the bar. He joined a few fans in a short game of pool before the bar owners came over and literally had to push us out the door. We stood in the hallway outside of the bar for another 20 minutes or so shooting the breeze until Richard and Jim both decided it was time to head to bed. Both had flights to catch the next day. Aldis, my friend and I were not yet tired so we made ourselves comfortable on a few couches and talked till about 4 O’clock in the morning. Looking back this probably wasn’t the best idea – considering we had to be up at 7am to get ready for the biggest day of the entire weekend, “Jared and Jensen Day!”
Sunday, November 15th, 2009
It was finally here! The day we had flown to Chicago for – the day we would finally get to meet Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles (some of us for the first time)! As our alarms went off at 7am, we hopped out of bed and got ready as best we could on 2 hours of sleep. The way the photo ops were arranged was that all of those with just a Jensen solo photo op were to be lined up in the grand ballroom at 9:15am and then escorted row by row into the photo op room. My friends and I had found someone who was selling a lot of their photo op tickets so we lucked out! Around 9:40am, the big moment had arrived! I was standing next on line to get my picture taken with Jensen Ackles, “Dean Winchester” himself. All I can remember thinking was he is a lot taller than I thought. I think my thought process at this point and time had gone completely out the window! He smiled and said “Good Morning” as we approached him. He wrapped his arms around my friend and me and then just like that, the photo op was over. It was time to rush back into the grand ballroom to line up for the Jared and Jensen “sandwich” photo ops. I unfortunately did not have a “sandwich” photo op ticket. So I waited in the line for my single photo op with Jared. I bought an extra Jared photo op ticket because I wanted as much time with him as I possibly could get. The “sandwich” photo ops went almost as fast as the Jensen single photos. Though I understand why they rush the photo ops, I don’t necessarily agree with it.
When it came time for my Jared photo ops, I think all thought had gone out the window and I was just a walking zombie. I was shaking all over; my heart was pounding a mile a minute and I was face to face with the man I had loved ever since he first appeared on Gilmore Girls. He is the nicest guy and the most attractive man I have ever laid eyes on and I wished for that moment to last and last. But alas it was over within a matter of seconds and my friends and I headed into the main ballroom for the Jensen and Jared Q&A. The boys play so perfectly off one another it was only right that they did their entire time on stage together. We got one hour with the boys on stage, but then an extra few minute so Jared could auction off his “Sam” watch as a way to raise money for his mother’s charity. Poor Jared did not know how to do an auction so Jensen stepped in and became his commentator. Jared sat in complete shock as the price for the watch went from $500 to the selling price of $3,500! I don’t think in his wildest dreams that he anticipated it would go for that much. He was so thankful to the fan that purchased the watch that he literally gave her shirt off his back as a thank you.
The autograph session for the boys was not as long at all. In fact I felt it was a bit too rushed. I was prepared for the photo ops to be rushed, however, I thought perhaps since it was rumored that neither boy had to catch a plane that the autographs would be a bit more easy going. Once we approached the table for the guys the volunteers quite literally grabbed the merchandise out of our hands and pushed everyone on his or her way. I tried my best to take in the moment with Jared as he signed his name to the Conzine, but I was completely hypnotized by his beauty that everything seemed to be a big blur. Jensen was next and with that, the day with the boys I had loved since Supernatural first aired in 2005 had ended. I had my moment in the sun and now it was almost time to go back to reality, but first the Q&A and photo ops with Rob Benedict (“Chuck Shurley”).
I had spent practically the entire weekend getting excited about seeing Rob Benedict, I had seen and loved him in “Waiting” and so I was really hoping he would be just like his character in that movie and as well as on Supernatural. He did not disappoint me. He was just as hyper and entertaining as I hoped he’d be. It was his first convention and you could tell he was nervous. When he first came out it looked as though his face was completely flushed. It was endearing to see this famous actor who was loved by all in the room, so nervous as to how the day was going to go. Following Rob’s Q&A were his photo ops. I was expecting to see a semi-short line for Rob but to my surprise and delight the line was almost as long as it was for Richard the day before. The character of “Chuck” had quite an impact on Supernatural fans apparently. Rob was one of the sweetest people I have ever met and I love that through his characters, he stays true to himself.
With the conclusion of the photo ops came the conclusion of the convention, the conclusion of my incredibly awesome Supernaturalized weekend! I met so many wonderful people (both fans and actors) and had such an amazing time. It was sad to see it come to a close! Now I sit and count down the days to July 2010 for the New Jersey Supernatural convention where I know I will experience even more incredible moments and make even more great memories with my Supernatural fandom!
Here are a few other pictures from the weekend (from Lindsay):
For more information on Creation Entertainment’s Salute To Supernatural Conventions, visit www.creationent.com.