Creation Entertainment’s “Salute to Supernatural” Chicago: The Moments I’ll Always Remember
It’s been a week since I experienced my third Creation Entertainment “Salute to Supernatural” convention and I still can’t stop thinking about it. So much gets crammed into three days that it’s honestly not surprising that it’s still on my mind a week later!
This year, I met up with three online turned-real-life friends: Michelle, Sophia, and Andie. It amused all of us that Sophia, Andie and I are all Canadian, and Michelle was the only American at a convention in Chicago! I had already met all of them at prior conventions, and getting to share the entire weekend with three people I know and love really added a fun layer to everything that happened.
I had been looking forward to Friday for a really long time because I was finally going to get to meet David Haydn-Jones, who plays Arthur Ketch on Supernatural. I was supposed to meet David at the Chicago convention in 2017, but he had to cancel the week before due to a prior commitment, and I was totally bummed. So this time around when we walked into the convention hall, David was the first thing on my mind.
I have been following David on Twitter since his first appearance on Supernatural when his Twitter follower count was at around 600 fans, and because he’s so active on social media, we have built a friendship (though I use the term loosely considering the truth is he is still an actor and I am still a fan) throughout the last year. I’m not going to lie: I was nervous about finally meeting him face-to-face. It’s different from meeting say, Jared and Jensen, because I know there is almost no chance they’re going to remember me from the other 500 fans they hugged that weekend. But David? He knows me by sight.
I should have known I had nothing to worry about!
As soon it was my turn in the photo op room, I ran over to him and he enveloped me in what may have been the biggest, tightest hug of my entire life! He must have thought I wanted my photo op to be a hug, because he spun us towards the photographer with my face still held to his chest, and I had to stop him and ask him to get into position. Because David likes to tease me online about not knowing who I am, I thought it would be funny for me to wrap my arms around him with a huge, over-excited smile on my face while his hands were pinned to his side with an expression of, “Who are you?” on his face.
David nailed it, and it is right up there with one of my all-time favorite photo ops. I even posted on social media at the end of the weekend that as great as it was to hug everybody else in the cast, David’s hug was by far the best!
I also had the chance to hug Kim Rhodes (Jody Mills) and Briana Buckmaster (Donna Handscum) on Friday, and in my excitement, I blurted that I’m a writer for Nerds and Beyond. Let me tell you, the way their eyes lit up and the smiles on their faces grew made me glad for my moment of awkwardness, and the extra hugs and excited exclamations from both of them is a bright spot of happiness from the weekend that I remember fondly.
I participated in the private Louden Swain Acoustic Jam on Friday as well. Michelle and I are huge fans, and it didn’t disappoint. In fact, it was even better than we expected! They played several songs, but a highlight for me (and I’m sure for Michelle) is when they took requests at the end and played Michelle’s favorite song, “Hey Darlin’.” Sitting next to my best friend while she heard her favorite band play her favorite song live for the very first time, watching as tears of happiness streamed down her face, is one of the most emotional moments I’ve ever experienced at a con. Even though Louden Swain had no idea what that song meant to her when they played it, I will never be able to thank them enough for giving her that to look back on.
My friends and I made sure to take the time to sit down and eat a good meal together Friday night before karaoke started. The few times like this where we were all able to sit together and talk over everything that happened that day are always some of my best con memories when I look back, and this was no exception. The hotel had created special Supernatural themed drinks, and all of us (that were of age) tried one. We just had our drinks delivered when a woman asked if the seat beside us was taken. We said no, and then I noticed she was alone. I asked, “You’re not here by yourself, are you?” When she said she was, I instantly asked her to join us, and just like that we met a new friend. (I’m reluctant to share her name because we didn’t exchange contact information in order to get permission, but let’s call her M.) Hilariously, M was also Canadian, and so poor Michelle was still the only American at the table!
That’s part of the magic at Supernatural conventions: you can talk to anybody and know absolutely that you already have something in common. M fit right in with the rest of us, and we ended up running into her several times during the weekend and stopped to talk to her each time. We actually saw her Saturday night at another restaurant with another group of girls, and we all commented on how nice it is that she made friends even though she started her weekend out alone.
After dinner was karaoke, and I really lucked out with getting to see the first ever Makin’ Bacon Karaoke Challenge with David Haydn-Jones performing his song “Makin’ Bacon” (click here to purchase the song and help support the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America) live for the first time with a fan by his side! The rest of the evening was spent with Sophia and Michelle, dancing hilariously and screaming out the words to songs I didn’t even know at the top of my lungs. There are so many songs now that are always going to make me think of dancing with my friends and singing with the cast of my favorite TV show whenever I hear them, and that’s a really beautiful thing to be able to take with me.
Saturday morning dawned much too bright and early after the late night at karaoke, but it was what a lot of us like to call “Misha day” at conventions, since his panel day was on Saturday, and it was enough to get me out of bed with a smile on my face (which is a rare occurrence!).
Misha seemed to be in an incredibly good mood all weekend, and my first interaction with him was a photo op where we held hands and smiled at each other.
After my Misha op, I had my first ever Meet and Greet, which was with Matt Cohen (Young John Winchester/Michael). It’s in the Creation Entertainment rules that “what happens in Meet and Greets stays in Meet and Greets,” so I can’t go into details about what we talked about. But what I can share is that considering it was my first Meet and Greet and I was more than a littler nervous at the start, Matt managed to put me at ease almost instantly. He was more open with his feelings and shared more information with us than I ever expected him to, and it was very obvious listening to him speak that he’s (unbelievably) even more kind and genuine in person than he seems online.
To sum up the experience: I walked into that room a casual fan, thinking it would be a good time and a low-key way to spend 45 minutes – and I walked out a full-fledged Matt Cohen Stan, as we like to say in fandom. If you ever get a chance to do a Meet and Greet with Matt, I highly recommend you take it. You won’t regret it!
Richard Speight Jr., who usually co-hosts Creation conventions with Rob Benedict, wasn’t able to make it on Friday due to being on the Supernatural set prepping for directing the second episode of season 14, but it was great to have him back on Saturday. As always, the R2M panel (Rich, Rob, and Matt) was hilarious, and I had my first ever R2M photo op, which was a fantastic group hug that turned out really great!
Misha’s panel was Saturday as well, and he was just as smiley on stage as he was during his photo ops earlier in the day. He gave us a few spoilers about season 14, telling us that at the beginning of season 14, Jack is feeling very low and Castiel helps talk him through it. He said that he thinks Castiel telling tell Jack that he belongs there with him and the Winchesters makes Castiel feel as if he, too, belongs more. Misha also teased that we would see the exercise room in the bunker for the first time!
In a super sweet gesture, he also shared with us that he purchased a star for the Supernatural Family. He thanked everybody there for being so supportive not only to him, but to each other as well, and said he’s thankful to be a part of the Supernatural Family. He mentioned that he would Tweet out the co-ordinates to the star later, but I haven’t seen him do that yet, though I hope he does.
Also on Saturday was a group panel featuring the Ladies of Supernatural. Included in the panel was Kim Rhodes, Briana Buckmaster, Lisa Berry (Billie/Death), Rachel Miner (Meg), and Ruth Connell (Rowena). Not surprisingly, the five of them had a lot to talk about, and while I remember a lot of moments really clearly, they mostly consisted of the awe I felt watching them interact with each other rather than the specific things they said. They all radiate so much light and positivity that seeing them on stage together was absolutely spellbinding. It was obvious watching them that there’s a very real and genuine friendship between all of them, and they each spoke multiple times about how much they all mean to each other. Their connection was palpable, and getting to feel just an echo of that was enough to make me laugh and cry during the hour they shared the stage.
One of things I always look forward to most at a convention is the Saturday Night Special concert featuring Louden Swain. As I said before, I am a huge Louden Swain fan, and getting to see my favorite band play with some of my favorite actors is always exciting for me. I’ve seen Louden Swain play live five times now since I flew out to two of their shows in New York in January, but I hadn’t heard them play my favorite song, which is “Wave.”
For anybody who doesn’t know, Briana Buckmaster released her first album on July 13 called Begin, and the album included a brilliant cover of “Wave.” When I saw her get on stage I figured there was a good chance she would perform it. Not only did I get to hear my favorite song, I got to hear it sang by Briana and Louden Swain, and I reacted much more strongly than I thought I would. I didn’t only cry, I sobbed. To see and hear and feel a song that means as much to me as “Wave” does live was one of the best moments of my life, and I know I will never forget how it felt.
Sunday morning was a bit later to start, but boy, oh boy, did it start with a bang: photo ops with Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester)! Jensen is always so laid back in photo ops, and he’s always managed to put me at ease during every experience I’ve ever had with him… but that didn’t help with the nerves beforehand. Thankfully, Andie also had a solo Jensen op, so we were able to wait in line together. For those of you who have never gone to a con before and have the opportunity to wait with somebody you know, I cannot even begin to stress how much easier it is to do it that way. If you have numbers on your tickets that prevent you from going in the same group, just wait until you can go together. It’s so worth it.
I also had a solo op with Jared Padalecki (Sam Winchester) where I got my first ever hug from him, a duo photo of Jensen and Misha where I got to see Jensen take the photographer’s camera when he took a break and take silly photos of Misha with two lucky fans, a Castiel op, and one of my favorite interactions all weekend long: my Jared and Misha op.
Sophia and I split this op to share, and Sophia wanted to use Harry Potter props for the photo. We brought wands with us and we purchased Hogwarts House scarves for the houses we thought we belonged in as well as Jared and Misha. We think that Jared is a Gryffindor along with Sophia, and Misha is a Ravenclaw just like me. Before it was even our turn, we could see that Misha and Jared were being silly with the people in front of us. We witnessed Misha taking somebody’s hat off of their head and putting it on his and then taking somebody’s glasses off and wearing them for their op. So we figured we were going to get a good experience.
But it was so much better than I thought it would be!
I walked up to Misha and handed him the scarf, which he happily wound around his neck. I passed him the wand I brought him, then told him we wanted them to choose the pose. He turned me so I was facing Sophia, laid one hand on my shoulder, and pointed his wand at the camera. I mirrored his pose, then looked over at Sophia and saw that Jared was still in the process of tying her scarf onto her neck. While I was watching, I saw an adorable moment where Jared untucked her hair from her scarf and joked, “What are you doing? You’re gonna kill her!”
Misha took the opportunity to flick at Jared’s hair (which Jared had just fixed) with his wand while Misha and I waited for Jared to finish what he was doing with Sophia’s scarf and then we finally got into position. I knew as soon as the photo was taken that Misha’s wand was held up in front of my face.
The photographer noticed as well and told us to do the pose again, which Misha replied to with a surprised, “What!?” I (jokingly) complained that his wand was in my face, and in retaliation, he playfully turned his wand sideways and held it in front of my face on purpose for our next photo. I didn’t see his expression until we got the photo back, but the look on his face is so intentionally obstinate that it makes me laugh every time I look at it!
I’ve never had the kind of photo op experience that came with a long story before, but this one was great and hands down my favorite photo op of the convention!
One of the coolest things about conventions for me, is that I always seem to fall in love with a new actor that I wasn’t super into before I went. Last year at my first convention it was Kim and Briana, and this year, it was Alexander Calvert, who plays the nephilim Jack. Obviously he’s adorable, but he was so sweet and funny, too. At one point a small child asked the question, “How do you change your eye color?” Alex was so concerned about the correct way to answer the question without disappointing the young fan, I was sunk. He eventually replied with, “The only way for me to change my eye color is purely through Jack magic,” and everybody has got to give him props for coming up with that diplomatic answer on the spot like that!
I also had two photo ops with Alex, (one of just him and one with Misha) as well as an autograph, and every time we spoke he was so incredibly gracious and enthusiastic. I started Sunday as a casual fan of the character, and ended it very grateful for his kindness and eager to learn more about him as a person.
The Jared and Jensen panel is always a popular panel at every con seeing as they’re the ones who started the show, and their panel that day was no exception – the room was full! They’re so funny when they’re together, and the deep friendship they share is something really special to get to see in person. They didn’t talk much about the upcoming season, but they spoke a lot about their children, shared sweet stories about the moment they each fell in love with their wives, and Jensen spent some time talking about the end of Season 13.
They ended the panel with Misha coming on stage with a birthday cake for Jared and Jensen, Rob, Richard, and Louden Swain singing him happy birthday. I walked out of the auditorium with a smile on my face, knowing that because of my photo op schedule that Jared and Jensen’s panel would be the last one I would see, and felt satisfied with that.
The rest of the night was basically spent waiting in line, hugging my faves, and smiling for photos. It ended with autographs from Jared, Jensen, and Alex, and after my roommates and I paid for our ops and got back to our room it was after 11:00PM. We hadn’t eaten all day and we were all exhausted from the excitement of everything that happened, and so we went out for an extremely late dinner with both Sophia and I already dressed in our pajamas! We shared experiences, op and auto stories, laughed and talked, and stayed past the time the restaurant closed.
It was a weekend full of happiness, laughter, friendship, and faves, and I loved it all. I was only able to share a fraction of the experiences I had, otherwise this would go on forever. There were dozens of moments burned into my brain, and a handful of times I actually stopped, closed my eyes, and thought: remember this moment. Remember how this felt. Remember Misha’s hand warm in yours. Remember the look on Sophia’s face when Jared fixed her hair. Remember Andie’s smile when she showed me her Jared op. Remember Michelle so overwhelmed with feelings that she cried. Remember how it feels to see hundreds of people holding up glow sticks during “She Waits.” Remember the way David hugged me.
None of these things were free, but all of them were priceless.
And that’s why I’ve already started saving for my next Creation Entertainment’s “Salute to Supernatural” convention, and why no matter how many conventions I end up going to, Chicago 2018 will always have a special place in my heart.