‘Supernatural’ Seattle Convention: Making the Best Out of Being Snowed In
The recent Supernatural convention in Seattle, WA is definitely one for the history books. While Thursday and Friday’s events remained as originally scheduled, Saturday and Sunday’s activities unfortunately were canceled due to extreme weather for the area. This led to some interesting activities and panels that will likely never be seen at another Supernatural convention again. Let me take you through this crazy weekend from the perspective as someone attending.
Thursday, as usual, is a day that most people tend to forget about, yet it is actually one of my favorites. This is the day when most people arrive in the city where the convention is being held; you get to see so many of your friends that you rarely get to see and hug in person, and if there is time, hopefully go exploring around the host city. Most of the places where conventions are located are fun and interesting, but those attending, unfortunately, hardly ever get to see much of what the city has to offer since the convention is so packed full of activities. I greatly enjoy getting to spend a small chunk of time going on a little adventure – like looking out over the bay on the Seattle Ferris Wheel or visiting the Pike Place Market.
Pre-registration gives attendees the chance to get their wristbands and lanyards, verify PDF tickets as needed, and purchase other photo ops or autographs not sold out. The chance to do this early before the rest of the con-crowd arrives makes the entire registration process smoother and less stressful. The Vendor’s Room – my favorite place to hang out during a convention – is open and ready for people to take part in all of the incredible forms of art (paintings, jewelry, clothing, support pillows, books, and more) that this talented fandom is capable of. Thursday night also includes the PJ Party with Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster, which is ALWAYS a ton of fun and belly laughs. Anyone who has ever been to a PJ Party will tell you that it is the most fun event of the entire convention.
The 300th episode of Supernatural aired on the Thursday of the Seattle convention. Creation Entertainment was kind enough to have a special airing of the show in the theater for fans. It was especially special to have the opportunity to watch such an important episode with fellow fans who love this crazy show as much as I do. We all were able to yell, hoot and holler, laugh, and sob uncontrollably together at the spectacular performances on the screen. I was extremely grateful for the chance to be able to share this moment with my fandom friends.
Friday’s events started as they always do, with Louden Swain rocking it out on stage with Richard Speight, Jr. playing bass in place of Mike Borja who unfortunately was unable to attend the convention. Rich and Rob Benedict talked about how amazing ‘Friday People’ are during the opening monologue with the two jokesters teasing about the incoming snow storm potentially trapping all the ‘Friday People’ there and no one else able to make it to the convention. Little did they know, their prediction would come true.
The first panel was a new one that included Rachel Miner, Alaina Huffman, and Chad Lindberg. This Q&A was fun and interesting because none of their characters had ever interacted on the show before and each person had very unique points of view on the questions asked. Next, while some meet and greets and photo ops were happening, Jason Manns hosted the Yes/No Trivia Game for the first time. An entertaining game ensued with Jason’s hard questions actually being easy and the easy questions stumping a large chunk of players. Jason also had the panel following intermission where he played songs while answering questions in what he has dubbed a ‘quoncert.’ My favorite was a mash-up of Jason’s cover of “Kiss” mixed with “All About That Bass.” Station Breaks, the band made up of Jason, Rob Benedict, and Billy Moran, started and ended the panel with Jason singing songs that the fans all love to hear.
After another brief intermission, Kim Rhodes and Briana Buckmaster took the stage. Energetic, hysterical, and insightful as these two always are, the fan favorites helped kick off the weekend with a bundle of laughs. After them, Jim Beaver was last to talk for the day in what is a rare Creation convention appearance.
Just because the panels were done for the day, does not mean that the rest of the activities were over – the best part of Friday at a convention was still to come – Karaoke! As we waited for Karaoke to start, con-goers continued with autographs and photo ops. Some people lined up to get front row for Karaoke, others browsed the Vendor’s Room, and a few went to play in the snow that had begun falling in the early afternoon.
With the Seattle convention being the first time that Karaoke was being hosted by only Matt Cohen instead of both Matt and Rich, we were all very excited that the evening was as much of a blast as it has always been. Chad Lindberg, Alaina Huffman, and Jim Beaver all came out to sing and dance. Jim, stoic as ever, boogied down for a few songs before saying his goodbyes. Alaina was a dancing queen beautifully twirling on stage. And Chad was a full-on rockstar with the best air guitar seen the entire night.
The vast majority of those taking the stage were all phenomenal performers. Even if they were not best singers, they brought such passion and energy to the stage that it was hard to not be impressed. A few special individuals were so spectacularly talented that everyone’s jaw was on the ground and phone flashlights were in the air praising and encouraging them to continue being as amazing as they could be. Members of the Nerds and Beyond staff, Hailee, Emily, and Illy, went on stage together with friend, Steph, to rock out to the classic one-hit wonder “Tubthumping” by Chumbawamba.
Overall, it was the perfect end to a fantastic Friday and wonderful start to what was going to be an incredible convention weekend…. until Mother Nature decided otherwise.
Saturday morning started with quite a bit of confusion and rumors. Many attendees were stuck or unable to make it to the convention, and rumors were flying that the guests would be unable to attend the day’s scheduled events as well. With fans ready and waiting to start the day with meet and greets and others beginning to file into the theater, Creation staff made the announcement that for the moment everything was paused while they tried to determine how to proceed after the state of Washington had declared a State of Emergency due to the snowstorm. Soon, Creation team leaders came to inform everyone that the scheduled events for Saturday had been canceled due to weather in order to maintain everyone’s safety. There would be a “free day” with panels by Rachel Miner, Megan Padalecki, and Chris Schmelke, all who were already at the hotel and the Vendor’s Room would remain open all day.
As expected, everyone was devastated that all of their hopes and plans for the convention had come crashing down. Both staff and those attending were scrambling to form a plan to rescue the day. A new Snow Day schedule was released which included the new panels, more trivia, music videos, costume contest, and an additional screening of the 300th episode.
Though subdued, the atmosphere of the convention continued to be positive even after the news came that Sunday would be canceled as well. Fans were running around trying to figure out how we can make this now one of a kind convention even more special, but in a better way. The panels were very relaxed with people able to sit anywhere in the theater and the microphone being passed around instead of getting up to ask questions. Rachel started the morning off by declaring the convention now be known as “RachelCon.” Questions ranged from long discussions about Dungeons and Dragons to how to better achieve inclusivity in our society for anyone deemed ‘other’ with Rachel telling everyone that we are all “perfectly imperfect.”
Close to one-thirty in the afternoon, fans truly showed how we earned the name #SPNfamily. At every convention, Louden Swain will come play a few songs in the Vendor’s Room in what has become known as the Vendor’s Room Jam. A small group of fans decided that we would have our own Vendor’s Jam and grabbed a guitar, practiced the songs, and got ready to play. It started with the small group playing an older Louden Swain song, “Fifteen,” and then moved into a crowd favorite, “Like the Heart Goes.” Near the end of the second song, the crowd around the ones playing parted and Billy Moran, lead guitarist of the band, ran up with his guitar and joined in! Everyone was so shocked and excited because Billy was supposed to be stuck like all of the other guests. When the song finished, Billy asked what we had already done, surprised when told the fans had pulled out such an old song, and asked what we wanted to do next. Encouraging the group who had started the jam session to continue playing and singing with him, we moved into “Poptart Heart,” and people whipped out their kazoos to end with “Medicated.” The Vendor’s Room Jam, already an intimate time between the band and fans, morphed into this incredibly special moment of everyone joining together to have fun and be part of this family together.
Soon after the impromptu Vendor’s Jam, Misha Collins sent out a tweet saying that he apologized for being unable to make it to the convention, but he sent something to those that were there to “help keep [us] warm.” And when we walked into the theater, we were greeted with 70 Domino’s pizzas (including ones with pineapple) waiting for us with a sign saying, “Courtesy of Misha Collins.” The pizza had the intended effect of keeping us warm, because all of our hearts filled with gratitude for the fandom’s angel and our forever pizza man, Misha.
— Cons & Beyond (@consandbeyond) February 9, 2019
As we all lined up to get our pizza and settle in for the panel with photographer, Chris Schmelke, an announcement was made. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki had sent a video to the fans apologizing for the convention being canceled. They said that they missed us and were looking forward to talking to everyone about the 300th episode, but sadly, the weather could not be controlled and this was “an act of Chuck.” Jensen summed it all up perfectly by closing out the video, “When in doubt, blame Benedict.”
Chris’s panel was particularly entertaining because not only is Chris extremely talented and fun to listen to, but Billy Moran joined him onstage. A Xbox was set up and while Chris talked and answered questions, Billy played a game called “Starwahl” against members of the audience as the controller was passed around. At random moments, you could hear people in the crowd yell out oohs and ahs in response to the video game on the screen, and Chris would not even pause in what he was saying, rolling along with whatever was happening in the background. It was the most relaxed and interactive panel that I have ever been to.
With the end of Chris’s panel, came the end of the convention for most people. Some hung around until the Vendor’s Room closed, a few caught the second showing of the 300th episode, and a very small group remained for an impromptu karaoke party. Throughout the day, the majority of fans and all of Creation staff managed to keep calm and make the most of a terrible situation. It continued to feel supportive and exciting and inclusive despite most of the guests being unable to join in the activities. A few fans put it best when describing their experiences at the convention:
Alana: Even though ‘Supernatural’ Seattle ended the way it did, I’m grateful for the experience. It honestly gave me a greater appreciation for my ‘Supernatural’ family. Seeing cast members, Creation staff and fans band together to try and make the most out of a tough situation was inspiring. I saw so many acts of kindness both in person and online. Everyone was doing their best to take care of each other, and that was beautiful to see.
Steph: While what happened was super disappointing, I was really proud of the way fans handled it in stride, turning the weekend into an impromptu Seattle vacation. I saw lots of groups of people exploring the area, seeing the sights, and enjoying as much as we could given the circumstances. I was also extremely impressed with the way Creation handled everything. It was obvious that they were just as disappointed and even as stressed as the guests, but they handled everything so professionally and with care. They did everything they possibly could to make the situation better, and it gave me more confidence about going to cons in the future. Also… it was cold.
Creation staff managed to keep everyone safe and as happy as possible with the situation they were given. We could not have asked for anything better than the way that they have handled the disappointment from fans and the hassles of refunding tickets. Stephanie Dizon, VP of Talent and Production at Creation, and a well-known face at all Supernatural conventions was kind enough to share her thoughts on the history-making event:
It was an unfortunate situation that no one could control and Seattle isn’t equipped to deal with the snow. In my 20 years of event producing experience, I’ve never had a situation like this. I’m glad everyone is safe. I’m most proud of the fans who took the news so well, both online and in person. It was really hard delivering the bad news, but the fans were so supportive and understanding. Since we were all stuck there together, we decided to create a day of alternative programming, which included a Q&A with Megan Padalecki, Q&A with Chris Schmelke and a Round 2 of Karaoke by popular request.
Many of the guests who were supposed to attend, sent out apologies on their social media accounts asking everyone to be safe and promising to make up for missing out on what would have been a wonderful convention.
Though we ended up being ‘con-blocked’ and snowed in, the fans, staff, and guests all worked together to make this event as amazing as possible with the extenuating circumstances. Supernatural Seattle is definitely one that those who were there will continue to talk about, and we will never forget to always ‘Blame Benedict.’