Thursday, April 14, 2016

East Kingdom Spring Coronation

East Kingdom Spring Coronation 2016
A few Easterners gathered outside the Armory
Photo by Jenn Surabian Bachour

It's been a while gentle reader, thank you for hanging in there. Today I'm going to tell you a story:

Once upon a time in the beautiful Kingdom of the East, there was a little Shire called Quintavia, and in this shire was a wonderful place known as Higgins Armory.

It was a collection of all things knight - weapons, armor, and period references. It was much beloved by the people, but tragedy struck and on December 31, 2013 it closed. Much of the collection was auctioned off, some went to the local art museum, and the lights went dark in the big steel building on the hill.

I live around the corner during this time, and watched on my nightly commute as it got darker, and darker. One night all the lights were on, and then they never came on again. It was heartbreaking.

Until recently! A developer purchased the building, renamed it the John W Higgins Armory and is working on renting it out. One of my Shire, Perronnelle de Croy, was brave enough to approach them about using the space, and they took a chance on us. We were the first group to rent the great hall as it's now called.

Boyar Aleksei Dmitriev put in the bid for Coronation and asked me to be his deputy. He assembled a team of cooks and staff heads from the Shire and we set to planning. There was a very slight chance that Aleksei would have to be handling issues with his father and we put in place that Siubhan Wallace would be my deputy should that happen.

The site walk was bittersweet. What used to be still echos, but we started to see what could be.

My first site walk in January
I set up a volunteer sign up through which is a GREAT tool, highly recommend, and a couple other tasks.

Then a week and a day before the event Aleksei, who had been away handling issues with his father, stepped down formally.

I swear I spent that entire day sending emails. I scheduled a staff meeting Sunday and we went over the plans and any open issues. At that time we had 36 pre-registrations.

Siubhan became by mobile secretary and made any calls that needed doing during the day and checked in with the food folks: Aethelhawk Keyfinder and Cassandra Böll von Bayer. We had cooking nights Wednesday and Friday that I'd previously scheduled in the commercial kitchens of Camelot and Mosaic. I got to work printing site booklets and signs.

Friday was prep day at Higgins from 9-3. Brokk brought the Shire storage trailer (for which we are eternally grateful) and our wonderful Seneschal Matthias Grunewald had gotten the royal thrones and banners for us to prep.

The Barony of Stonemarche lent us their 90 heraldic banners they use in the Armory at Birka (Thank you Master Harold von Auerbach and Mistress Aine Callaghan!) and my wonderful household member Syele von Heidelberg who drove up to grab them from the Seacoast. Perronnelle did an amazing amount of work soliciting other banners and working with the Kingdom Chamberlain to get any kingdom banners to site.

We came armed with ladders but discovered (thank the gods) that the site had a scissor lift which Perronnelle swiftly mastered, marshaled troops, and set to decorating.

Our rental delivery came from Paul's Rents in Leominster (great service and great prices) and the guy running our delivery was as in awe of the place as we were. He kept saying how this had been his favorite place to go on school field trips and how glad he was that the site was being used again.

Perronnelle and Team did an amazing job

This was the first time Siubhan and Aethelhawk had gotten a chance to walk through the building and we quickly realized that the reality of the layout. There was no way we could serve dayboard in the main hall as planned. This had been an ongoing discussion and Aleksei and I had come up with an alternative prior, but until we were in the space with half the chairs set up did it become quite apparent we had to go to Plan B. Beyond that, Plan C, and eventually Plan D.

So this is around 12:30. Aethelhawk, Siubhan, and I walked through what was going to be our prep area and realized the only thing making it the prep area was one sink, which we could live without. So prep moved to the first floor, dayboard and dining to the second, and all my wonderful maps went straight out the window.

Suffice to say I tracked 20,000 steps on Friday, and we got an extension on our set up time and the volunteers which were left quickly got the tables and chairs set up. I then left to go check in on cooking and strategize the new layout at around 7pm. The outcome of that meeting was someone else was going to be running the dayboard service, Weehafoc (Aethelhawk and Siubhan's son) stepped up. (and did a marvelous job)

Matthias, our Seneschal, was there helping food prep. Well, he was running a meat slicer the rest of us were scared of and I may have joked with him that losing a finger is a knightly virtue. When it came out that pre-reg was up to 310 he joked with me that we might hit 500. At this point, gentle reader, I might have said some very unkind things to Matthias, and we all laughed, and laughed at this possibility. I then went off to reprint and redraw all the maps, have my household bartender Tho make me a drink, and sleep.

The shirt I wore all Friday said "Blessed" and I truly felt I was. I cannot say how much I appreciate the work of all our set up volunteers, event staff, and especially Siubhan.

Saturday dawned bright and cool. I tricked my friends into getting up early by promising them a great breakfast at a local diner and got to site. We swiftly and efficiently loaded in and got straight to work. 10:30 I got the news we had hit 475, after last court (first court of the day) started I got the news that we were at 510, and we ended the day at 667.

I only made 14,000 steps Saturday, mostly because I stayed in the dayboard area. Kudos to my parking staff led by Andreiko and ably assisted by Duchess Thyra (the most beautiful of traffic cones) who found places to park everyone, and to our Theresa Giani and our gate staff who swiftly and efficiently checked everyone in.

There were a few fires that needed putting out, but honestly, it went very, very, smoothly. Our shoppers Bianca Anguissola and Elvira Ballesteros found every rotisserie chicken in the area and other supplies to supplement our dayboard intended for 400. We never ran out of food.

I'd also like to thank here Master Malcolm Bowman, the herald for last court. It went on for 3 hours, about twice as long as estimated, which was a good thing. It meant most people snuck out and ate during court and we never had the massive tidal wave we braced for all day. At most people waited 5 minutes for food. That's a miracle with 667 people. A. Miracle.  

667 people. Oh. My. God.
I got this shot while running around

Also to the folks who cleaned up at the end of the night. I was along the gallery watching the Great Hall empty. It was like watching piranhas devour a cow. A flurry of activity and it was clean. My clean up rock stars were Sir Colin and his wife Baroness Margaret of Lochleven. They work so well as a team and they just kept going.

I'm still in awe of my team. Such a success!

Jenn and Joe at the site were so wonderful to work with. Anything we needed they worked with us. They truly felt the love of the East Kingdom in how welcoming and respectful everyone was.

I'm sure I'll update this with more pictures and names as I recover mentally. In my mundane life I work in finance, so we're a little busy with the tax season tornado.

And as I said on the East Kingdom page- thank you to each and every one of you who came. Again, I feel blessed to have been able to make this happen.

A Very Grateful Fortune