Annie Mac Notes from Philadelphia - Tuesday (Part I)
Brad (my husband, a member of Circle City Sound, competing on Friday) and I seem to have a habit of "being followed" by chorus vehicles during convention week. (Okay, it's really that we come up on them, but being followed sounds more mysterious.) Usually it's the Masters of Harmony trailer, which seems to pop up where we do -- Places like Lake Louise -- when we stop to sight-see before or after the convention. This year is no different. We were about 30 miles outside of Philly on the PA Turnpike, and all of a sudden we see this big truck in front of us with an "AH" on the back. Could it be? Sure enough As we got closer, we could see it really said "A of H", and on the side was a large picture, in vivid color, of what looked like about 200 smiling Ambassadors of Harmony shortly after last year's chorus contest victory. Very cool!
Risking life and limb, I whipped out the old iPhone and took several pictures with one hand while I drove with the other. (I would have asked Patrick, my 16-year-old son who's also a member of Circle City Sound, who was riding shotgun, but he was too busy checking out all the faces on the chorus photo. Probably counting them all, knowing him!)
We hung with the truck for a minute and gave the driver a friendly beep-beep and wave, then were on our way into the city to drop off our car at a friend's house. We spend enough money at internationals as it is, so I decided we didn't also need to spend $250 for a slab of concrete on which to park our car for the week. So my blue minivan is visiting my college roommate, Beth, for the week, and she in turn is coming with us to watch the contests several times.
After we parked Skye at Beth's (Oh, come on, don't you ALL secretly name your cars?) and loaded all of our stuff into the back of Beth's Rav 4 (well, most of our stuff, and the rest was perched on our laps we bring a lot of stuff!), we headed the twelve blocks down to Center City. I warned Beth on the way that we know a lot of people, so we may stop to talk "a few times" on our way over to the contest. So hopefully she wasn't completely surprised when, as we pulled up to the curb, I started waving wildly at the first person I saw. It was Nancy Ellis, who we'd met on the Gas House Gang cruise to Alaska after international in 2002. Nancy loved standing by fellow tenor Patrick (age eight at the time) in the cruise chorus, because she said he was the only tenor she'd ever stood by who was shorter than she was! (He also got the "munchkin award" that time in the cruise pick-up quartet contest, for being the only competitor who was shorter than the GHG.) Patrick's 6'2" now, but we still like to laugh about that with Nancy whenever we see her.
As usual, we were running "a little late" getting into town (my euphemism for an hour or less, versus "way late" when it's over an hour), and were really going to have to hustle to make the College Contest at 6pm. We didn't even get to Beth's until a little after 5pm, so it was after 5:30 by the time we dropped "the boys" (what daughter Maggie and I call Brad and Patrick) off at the convention center on the way by to grab our badges, and it was about 5:40 when we pulled up at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, the headquarters hotel for the week.
I explained to the Marriott employee that came up to unload our bags that we were going to be checking in later, but only had 20 minutes now to make the first contest session. We wanted to store our bags now, then come back later to check in. He had the bags out of the car in a flash and onto a cart, and then he assigned us to my new best friend, who I'll call "My Man Morris," to take over. I think Morris would have taken a bullet for me, he was so adamant that he'd take care of our bags until we returned. He wheeled them into the lobby and over to the bell stand, and was personally guarding them as we ran out the door and toward the convention center.
I told him we probably wouldn't be back until about 11pm. This was fine, he said. He was there until midnight. And then he looked at me and said, very seriously, "But you just let me know when you'll be back, and I'll be here. I don't care what time it is." He was very sweet, very loyal, very accommodating. I knew immediately that we were really going to like this Marriott. (I'm a Marriott Rewards Points junkie, so we almost always stay at Marriott properties on our travels, and it's really nice when a Marriott is also headquarters, like it is this year.)
Maggie (my 14-year-old daughter and fellow Capital City Chorus SAI member) met Beth as she emerged from the parking garage across the street, and we raced the block over to the Pennsylvania Convention Center. One nice touch As we entered the center, they were checking to make sure everyone they let in was part of the barbershop convention. It's nice to know we have the place to ourselves, especially when we bring our kids along. It enhances that element of safety and family friendliness that we usually feel at barbershop conventions.
Right as we were walking in, we came upon two more of the Indy guys (Circle City Sound members from Brad and Patrick's chorus) and their wives, so Beth was really starting to get the idea that when I said we knew a lot of people, we meant it. Luckily, she's the gregarious type (imagine a long-time good friend of mine being the gregarious type hah!), so it was fine with her. We hopped on the big escalator that took us up to the second level, where all of our activities are being held, and the excitement started to build ...
To be continued later today!
- College Contest
- The Pizza Order from Hell