Birthday celebration

Last Sunday was Kimberly’s birthday.  We had been invited by the Mischief Managed website to attend LeakyCon.  LeakyCon is the biggest Harry Potter convention in the country.  This weekend there were 10,000 fans at the convention center in Dallas.

Walking into the marketplace on Thursday evening. Mr T (my son) and I knew we were “home.”  We started on the left side of the vendor room and worked our way to the right.  One of the first people I met was Paul DeGeorge, founder of the first wizard rock band, Harry and the Potters.  I’ve seen Paul and Joe perform a few times over the last ten years or so, and the first thing he said to me was “I’m sorry for your loss.”  Keep in mind, I’ve seen him perform TWICE.  We’re friends on social media, but that’s it.  I was floored that this person, whom I consider a real live rock star, knew about Kimberly.  A bit further down the lane, we met Lori Earl.  Her daughter Esther passed away from thyroid cancer a few years ago.  While I don’t have the exact same story as Lori, it was a huge comfort to meet another mom who has suffered this loss, and is much farther along in her grief.  It gave me hope that things will get better.

The weekend is kind of a blur, no-one really sleeps at a convention, and I’m not a good sleeper when I’m out of my element.  But I am so glad we went.

Friday we did some crafts, saw a bunch of cosplay.  Mr. T got to meet Devon Murray while I was checking into the hotel (something that would become a running joke.)  We saw a panel or two, made some new friends, including Melissa Anelli, founder of Leaky Cauldron website.

Saturday was exclusively photos and autographs.  We had photos with Stanislav Ianevski, Alison Sudol, Dan Folger, and Devon Murray.  We got autographs from a few of those same actors, and one with Chris Rankin as well.  All the actors that we met over the weekend got a “Pray for our schools” sticker in the shape of Texas with a random act of kindness card attached.  Some of them were gracious enough to take the photos while holding up their stickers.  Stanislav Ianevski said he was going to take his sticker and put it on his motorcycle and ride all over Europe.  Saturday night, Mr. T had another run in with Devon Murray (this time I was in the restroom!) and Chris Rankin.  We stood with Chris for a bit while he waited for a cab and took a selfie.  I was beyond excited.

Sunday was a very relaxed day as far as conventions go.  We went to an early panel with Dan Folger.  Mr. T asked him a question at the end and received a (R-rated!) comic book.  Dan signed it for free later on that day.  I looked in the comic book and that’s one Mr. T will have to wait till he’s 18 to get!!  We hit a low period in the afternoon and just wanted to sit and visit.  We made our way over to the artist’s end of the vendor area.  We sat with Matt Maggacimo who is the current head of the Harry Potter Alliance.  I hope to be joining forces with them soon to spread the word about gun violence.

We wrapped up Sunday afternoon with a live recording of PotterCast, the official podcast of the Leaky Cauldron.  They did an old school game of dueling and Mr. T and I were up there dueling each other with Chris Rankin and Scarlett Bryne.  After we finished, Chris gave me the biggest hug and said he was so glad to have met us.  He would later reach out to me on Twitter, causing me many heart palpitations and squealing!

We caught a cab back to the hotel and grabbed a very yummy supper in the hotel dining area.  Grilled chicken, sweet potato puree, roasted tomatoes, and greens.  We went back to the hotel and rested a bit before taking another cab to the wizard rock concert happening at a different location. The Mudblods (Texas band) were just finishing up when we got there.  Tonks and the Aurors were next.  Stephanie dedicated her first song, Aurors Fight to Kimberly. She’s like the Bruce Springsteen of wizard rock, so her songs are all pretty rock and roll type.  Steph had a new spin on one song that focused on Charlie Weasley and his dragons, I had never heard her preface that song in that manner before and it really opened my eyes.

Next up were the founders of wizard rock, Paul and Joe DeGeorge.  They always put on a good show.  Mr. T was jumping around like a maniac.  For Save Ginny, they threw out a 12 door stuffed snake and it “crowd surfed.”  There was a small mosh pit up front.  Who knew? Mosh pit at wizard rock.  My friend arrived and brought cake for Kim’s birthday.  By this time, things had cleared out a little bit and I grabbed a few chairs in the back.  Mr. T was easier to manage back there, he had more room to jump around and dance. They almost always end their shows with These Days Are Dark, and The Weapon.  If you don’t know these songs, please google them.  Joe dedicated The Weapon to Kimberly, and Mr. T, LM, and I were in the back, crying our eyes out.  Happy tears, sad tears, all the tears.  It was really touching that Joe did that.  They closed their set and got called back for an encore. The three of us ended up going home to the hotel after that for some much needed rest and water.  Monday morning it was time to pack up and come back to reality.  Mr. T ran into Paul and Joe again, and gave them each big hugs.  I think Joe has a new best friend.

I’ve been doing conventions in the Houston area off and on for a few years, and I’ve never left ComicPalooza feeling like I was leaving my real friends.  At LeakyCon, that was completely different.  These Potter people are my kind of people.  I’m so grateful to Steph for asking my email address, Abby, Lori, Melissa, and everyone at LC for taking us in, Chris Rankin, Devon Murray, everyone who gave us ribbons, and my dear friends LM and M for coming with us.

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