Duckon X was held over the weekend of May 18-20, 2001, at the Corporetum Hyatt in Lisle, Illinois, one of the western suburbs of Chicago. This was the hotel in which Duckon had originally been held for the first several years of its existance. Duckon had sought other quarters in 1997 after having grown too large to fit comfortably in the Hyatt. After having numerous unsatisfactory experiences with other hotels, and having shrunk with the departure of furry fandom to its own event, Midwest Furfest, Duckon decided to go back to its old nest.
Unfortunately the homecoming did not prove a happy one. Another event was being held at the hotel that weekend, and the hotel had overbooked. The other event was sponsored by a business organization, and they browbeat the hotel management into giving them a full allotment of space at the expense of Duckon. Suddenly anyone who hadn't guaranteed their Duckon room with a credit card was out of luck.
Fortunately we had our room guaranteed and were able to check in with no trouble. We brought all our personal belongings in to the room and settled in. Thew we headed down to the dealers' room to see if we could set up early. When we got the go-ahead, we went to work and got everything in by the time dealer set-up officially began. Because of the head start, we were able to get set up with time to spare before the dealers' room opened to the public.
While the art show was still in the process of setting up, I was able to get my paperwork and get it filled out. When the art show was ready, I just took my art in and got it set out.
Then we settled in for business in the dealers' room. We made several sales in that time. I also got some planning done on the new business website I'm developing.
After the dealers' room closed for the evening, we went to the hotel restaurant to redeem our free food vouchers. We'd intended to use only some of them for the first night and save the rest for Saturday night. However, the food was so expensive that we used them up on the one meal.
After supper we rested for a while, then went down to use the hot tub. There was an out of order sign in the general area of the hot tub, but it was running, so we took a soak for a while.
In the evening we went to the parties. There was the Man Show party, for the Comedy Central program of the same name. Sunshine was having the cow party, and Capricon had a promotional party. Then we went to the Babylon 5 suite and watched the Hugo Award winning episode "Severed Dreams." After it was over, we went to our room to get some sleep.
Saturday started bright and early for us. We had breakfast in the con suite, then went down to the dealers' room and got set up. When the doors opened, we did quite good business. I didn't have much time to do anything except help customers and restock. I did squeeze in a little time to visit the art show, where I found to my delight that six of my pieces had bids on them. I also found that a piece by the daughter of a good friend of mine had no bids on it. It was a Harry Potter piece (a tiny sculpture of the Sorting Hat) and had a low minimum bid, so I went ahead and bid on it.
After the dealers' room closed for the evening, we called in a pizza for supper. Then we went down to the hot tub, but it had been turned off and drained. We sat in the sauna for a while, but it wasn't very hot. We also took a brief dip in the regular pool to cool off.
Then we went to the art auction. I didn't have any pieces in it, but I still enjoy seeing what is going when I can. There were a number of interesting pieces up for bids, including many charity pieces.One of the auctioneers kept making tasteless jokes about how various pieces would go up in value after the artist died, and that con security could see to the value of our investment.
I saw a little girl who looked like the very image of a character from a novel I'm writing. I did some sketches of her, and she got to grinning and mugging for me.
Then things got really strange. A woman police officer came by and asked the little girl if she knew where her brother was, then led her away. A few minutes later, there was an anouncement calling for the parents to come to security.
When the art auction was over, rumors and speculations were all over the place. One staff member told us that she knew what was going on but wasn't at liberty to tell us, and that we should enjoy the con and not worry about the incident. That was rather difficult to do with a whole bunch of cop cars and ambulances in the front lot, and the entire second floor (where the con suite was located) closed off. Another staff member we knew only said, "it's bad," and that he wouldn't feed the rumor mill.
At the parties we heard bits and pieces. There had been a hanging, a 13-year-old kid. He was a con person, and some people thought he'd done it in the con suite itself, while others said he'd done it in another room on that floor.
Because I was concerned that it might have made the news and upset my mother (who lives in a nearby suburb), I got out my cell phone and called her to let her know we were all right and the situation was being taken care of. She offered to let us come down to her house and stay the night, but we assured her that we still could get to our own sleeping room. We also explained that we had merchandise in the dealers' room and would have to get it out Sunday.
The parties weren't much fun, although we did go to the Babylon 5 suite and watch about half of an episode of Crusade. We also saw some Babylon 5 blooper reels in the Mad Con party room.
When we did turn in for the night, it was hatd to get to sleep. Our minds were full of speculations about what this incident would mean for the future of Duckon, and how it might cause fandom to be viewed in mundania if the news got mishandled by the mundane media.
Sunday morning we got up early and had leftover pizza for breakfast. Then we gathered up our belongings to get them out of our sleeping room. When we got downstairs with everything, we found that a temporary con suite had been opened on the first floor, in the Green Room. We got some caffinated sodas to help us wake up.
We also heard that the hotel had dealt the con one final insult. We were supposed to have the pavillion for closing ceremonies, but some other group had signed up for it as well. Since we were just "those science fiction weirdos," we were told we woulb just have to hold closing ceremonies in the hallway in front of the dealers' room. A number of other con members were seriously offended and said they'd not go back to the Lisle Hyatt for other events.
Then we headed over to the dealers' room and got our tables set up for business. While we were there, we got some definite news on the previous night's incident. The victim had been a troubled youth who often neglected to take his medications. His parents had become concerned about him and went looking for him, but by the time they found him, it was already too late.
Several of us who are artists got to talking about how and why very intelligent, creative people are particularly vulnerable to depressive illness. One reason is the need for constant improvement in our work, which leads us to be very self-critical. Another is rejection by others who don't understand us and just want us to de like everyone else. Also, there seems to be a connection between the neurochemical states that foster the ability to "think outside the box" and those which lead to depression.
I also got over to the art show and picked up my unsold art. I also paid for and collected the Sorting Hat sculpture. I showed that off very proudly to several people who came by our dealer's tables. Finally I packed it up in one of my art boxes so it wouldn't get lost or damaged in the confusion while we were packing our merchandise.
Even as we were packing the merchandise, we had a number of people buy from us. We got finished just as the dealers' room closed. Then we carried everything out and loaded it in the van. We were worried because one of the casters on our handcart was going out and it might break at any time. Fortunately we got everything in, but the casters will clearly have to be replaced before our next con.
After we got everything out, we went down to the temporary con suite in hopes of getting some more caffeine for the road. However, it was already pretty much broken down, so we said our good-byes and hit the road back to mundania.
Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel
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Last updated October 21, 2012.