I hadn’t been to a con in about 7 years. For personal and health reasons I basically wasn’t of the mind set that I needed to go to a con or something Ghostbusters related. In recent years that was beginning to change. I started thinking about attending “genre” cons again, their still wasn’t motivation. I had also wanted to put together a new Ghostbusters uniform. Their hadn’t been a rush. With friendships renewed, business picking back up, and actual events more of a possibility things naturally fell into place. I was building our web site while Bill built my Belt Gizmo. We met Greg and were talking more about events. The first con, Monster-Mania was still far enough out it wasn’t at the forefront of my priorities. During the busy season Jeffe contacted us and soon enough we were all planning our first official event. In part because I had also met Ronald Giameo from the North Jersey Ghostbusters I had been coordinating how I could with franchise ghostheads up North and South for our group to see how many Ghostbusters would be at Monster-Mania for what has been known as a franchise gathering.
My health can always be a factor and I don’t like to plan things and say I’m going to be somewhere if unexpectedly I’m not feeling up to it. The more we were talking and planning this con I really wanted to go. My health aside for a moment I still had concerns as I didn’t have my new uniform complete, never driven the easiest chosen route to Cherry Hill, and my aging 2000 Toyota Corolla is going to need somewhat expected maintenance. It doesn’t prevent me from driving, this was going to be the first time I was going to take a day trip with the car in months.
In the last couple of weeks as details were coming together for Monster-Mania Bill and I got my Tru-Spec® to my local tailor and I ordered my Bates side zip paratrooper boots. I knew I wouldn’t be wearing my proton pack, Bill put together an idea loosely based on an error in Ghostbusters: The Video Game so I could still mean business and have fun.
On Saturday, March 8, 2014 after topping off the tank at Wawa, calling Bill, and knowing the rest of our group and members of North Jersey Ghostbusters were already at the con, I was getting excited for a con experience. All I had to do was get on RT. 70 West and basically go straight through parts of Jersey that weren’t familiar to me. I had known a little of RT. 70, more the parts that go up to Lakewood and Brick. Which is why at first I went the wrong direction. I haven’t really needed a portable GPS in my car. Thanks to current mapping and GPS on my iPhone, I was able to navigate, quite proudly through Jersey’s Pine Barrens. Its an easy joke amongst Jerseyans, I didn’t know cars can legally I guess pass another car on RT. 70. Yeah, there are no passing zones, I had never been on a state highway here that’s like that. Normally when I have to travel away from my home area I’ll take the Garden State Parkway for most destinations.
The weather was really nice for a change in late Winter. It wasn’t a surprise when I hit pockets of heavy traffic. Within a couple of hours I was in Cherry Hill, approaching the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Resort. I knew what the hotel looked like, I presume with its 9 (possibly more levels) and being near Philadelphia the hotel would have a multi level parking garage. I know I should have left earlier, there were a lot of fans at Monster-Mania #27. Sounds right, this could have been the biggest turn out for Monster-Mania in Jersey. I’ve never really been into horror TV shows or movies. The associated celebrities and fans who dress up (very little cos-play there) wasn’t a reason I would go to my first Monster-Mania, (I want to call it Monster Con, that’s another con) and I wasn’t entirely grasping how many people would be there. Whether they stayed overnight or not. I guess some Robert Freddy guy and a show about walking with the dead is a big deal for example. Parking at the hotel or around the “block” was impossible. Some of the group met me outside after I was double parked by a TV Batman bat-mobile replica. Bill and I drove around, finally parking in a BBQ restaurant lot kinda next to the hotel. Their were times I was concerned about leaving my car. Whether the management was understanding or not, I’m thankful they didn’t tow me. If we had known, we should have parked at a local Dominos. A lot of people were ordering food which was delivered to the hotel. I don’t know if the hotel has shuttle service and either way it isn’t the responsibility of the convention or the hotel. Might be something for either to consider for future cons.
Finally at the hotel, not suited up yet I met up with Dave and Kenneth. While Bill and I were wasting time to find parking, Greg and Jody had left to get something to eat. After getting a little situated, kinda taking the con in Jody and Greg returned. We met up with Ron, Carol, and Jeffe. Who was staying the weekend at the hotel. We all went up to his floor, getting to there and to his room brought on fan pictures, Ghostbusters quotes/moments, and compliments. I finally suited up, Bill helped with the video game aspect to the costume, and we were basically ready to go. Most of us were glad to rest for a bit as they had driven down and been there since the morning. Once we were all done hanging there, more Ghostbusters moments as we returned to the lobby.
Photo by LeRoy Leake
I still needed to buy my ticket, of course if you’re going to dress up for a con (which by the way Ghostbusters may be the most normal outfit one could wear at a horror themed con) you’re going to attract attention. Fans (of Ghostbusters, not just us) are going to want to take pictures. Everyone we met (outside the celeb room) asked if they could take pictures of us or with us. Just about everyone we met and took pictures with were cool. This would be a great time to remind anyone if you took pictures of us or with us, we’d like to see them and possibly share them through the site. Especially if the pictures are already on-line.
After getting a ticket (with no line by then) we made our way outside to wait in another line to come into the celebrity room to meet Ernie Hudson. I had met Ernie twice before at two different Chiller Theaters. To have a group photo with Ernie Hudson like other franchises have had, that was going to be a new experience.
Waiting outside as the day became colder was in part the worse part of this con experience. Just the waiting, it was good to hang out and talk to each other. At times other ghostheads. It was also an opportunity to take sorta more natural pictures. Thanks to Carol who had a camera that wasn’t just from cell phones. The same camera would get the group shots with Ernie once it was our turn to meet Winston.
While in line to meet Ernie I saw, but didn’t meet one of Ernie Hudson’s sons. He knows Ron and Carol. They’ve met previously. And because of Ghostbusters and music have similar interests where they could hang out. I also met Eric Sellin, the owner of the TV Bat-Mobile replica. Eric also owns an Ecto-1A replica and a DeLorean time machine replica. Eric probably knows Ernie well enough and was helping with taking pictures. If their had been less people or maybe earlier in the day I might have talked to him more.
Right around when it was our groups turn to meet Ernie and take pictures we met two ghostheads who made a custom “no ghost” logo sign with Ernie’s name carved into it. They were nice to talk to, liked what we were doing. I decided to take a pic. Again, a timing thing, I don’t know the story behind the sign. I don’t know if Ernie was going to autograph it or they were going to give the sign to Ernie.
This is one of the other pics we took with Ernie as a group. This may have been about the time I realized at least a handful of people in the room saw a group of Ghostbusters with Ernie Hudson and were taking their own pictures. Which may explain an expression on my face. By the time we met Ernie many of us needed to have something to drink and eat. I would have thought I would have had one or the other sooner. It was one of those days that got away from me like that. Their was still one more group photo to take that could be fun before dinner.
A photographer named Scott has a small green screen. Basically you could choose any background image, one of his “go to” images is Mr. Stay-Puft in Columbus Circle. We waited around a little and got organized for our pending photo. He took the digital pictures and after finding out the cost of professional prints that should have been it until they were suppose to be ready at 5.
Almost like a ghost, a woman comes over to us because she wanted a picture with our group. It made more sense when she introduced herself as Sharon Smyth, from Dark Shadows. Apparently she had played a ghost when she was younger. Ms. Smyth was very personable and had fun with the whole ghost/ghostbustin thing. If I ever watch the show, she would be a reason originally.
After our professional photo session Bill and Dave had to leave I think to empty that full ghost trap from earlier. Some of us were heading out to make our way to a restaurant as our cars were parked in different places along RT. 70. Before leaving I needed to get my stuff from Jeffe’s room. I guess I could have left my uniform on, I knew sometime after dinner I’d be headed home. I will say my new boots were comfortable enough, actually once they were on I kinda forgot I was wearing military boots. Jeffe and I walked to my car and we drove to Cherry Hill’s Towne Center which is probably the biggest mall I’ve seen in Jersey. Or it could be the way its laid out.
After finding parking by the burger restaurant we met up with Ron and Carol. Jody, Greg, and Kenneth were waiting for our professional pictures which went past 5. That was ok as a nice restaurant on a Saturday night required 30 min wait. I was really hungry and thirsty by the time we sat down. Definitely was a reminder to try to plan for such things at other events. We weren’t seated long when Greg, Jody, Kenneth, and Chris (from the third Ghostbusters NJ) walked in. Jody passed around our printed pictures.
This is my version of the touched up photo Scott took. For some reason the printed photos were dark. As Jeffe was staying overnight he talked to Scott over the weekend, he made the corrections and Jeffe was happy with the new pictures.
After that we basically met and were having a much deserved and needed dinner. It was a much after thought, if we weren’t tired, etc we probably would have taken group shots at Zinburger. It was fun talking about the day, ghosthead topics, and franchise business. Once dinner was finished, we parted ways. I drove Jeffe, Greg, and Chris back to the Crowne Plaza and left from there.
I had a really great time with friends and new friends. I look forward to other events. Even if we meet the same Dr. Who Fans twice (coincidental?) who were drinking and seem to have NO memory of meeting us about 5 hours earlier. WHO Ya Gonna Call? 😀
If I go to a similar con again depending on the distance I might get a room myself. It felt like the fun could have continued and I wouldn’t have had to make the drive through the sometimes pitch dark New Jersey Pine Barrens. Fortunately I didn’t have to make the trip longer by investigating anything paranormal. Although sometimes it felt that way.