(Photo courtesy of Cheston Reisler)
Some would say that a convention allows one to be a kid at heart. I believe this to be true. Someone at the ReGeneration Who Convention (in Baltimore March 23-25 www.regenerationwho.com) even gave me a ribbon which quoted The Doctor Saying, “There’s no point in being grown up if you can’t be childish sometimes.”
In my case, however, I always knew that I would be writing about the convention with a different spin this year. This year, I brought a 17-month old baby to the convention. This was quite different than bringing a five-month old baby to the convention. At five months, last year, the baby wasn’t yet mobile and went where I wanted him to be, and napped on schedule in the stroller. I had brought along many outfits, bottles, toys, and powdered formula, and had to wash the bottles every night. It was a bit of work, but fairly easy.
This year, the story of a 17-month old at the convention was quite different. I brought plenty of quiet toys to occupy the baby during the wonderful panels. I was happy to see some of my favorite classic Who guests speak, as always Colin Baker, Peter Davidson, Nicola Bryant, Sarah Sutton, Janet Fielding, Mark Strickson, Matthew Waterhouse, John Leeson, Michael Jayston and William Russell (to name a few guests) were delightful.
Sometimes the baby played on the floor and was fine. Sometimes he walked up to fans to “visit”. Most people loved him and made faces at him. But, keeping him quiet was trying at times. I had to take him out of a couple panels when he was moody. Even when he was happy, and would squeal with delight, he turned a few heads on stage a couple times. Luckily, he was mentioned by panelists twice in a positive manner. (Last year, he had some spoons played to him by Sylvester McCoy). But, this year, I had to keep him from running over to the red and yellow colored electrical cords, which I wish were a bit more hidden from view of a toddler.
Overall, however, the convention does really try to be kid friendly. I can’t thank the wonderful people in Children’s Programming enough for being there. The room was run by Eric Hardenbrook. There were many activities to occupy the time of most children, ages 3 and up. I did however, find some projects to work on with the baby. Aside from an array of Doctor Who related pages to color, we were able to make a Weeping Yarn Angel (thanks to Ashley Miller), and paint a Weeping Angel on a tote bag with a stencil (created by Channon Koty). My child especially liked the Adipose Bean Bag Toss (into a cardboard Tardis made by the older kids).
There were several additional activities such as a TARDIS card, Mad Libs, Fusion Bead Magnets, Galaxy Dough and Ood masks that we missed making. The one thing I was especially sad to miss was Terry Molloy (who played Davros) reading his “Montmorency Montgomery Bear” book to the children on Saturday. I was fortunate to purchase an autographed copy.
Terry Molloy stole the show, as usual, during his Friday night “The Dave Ross Variety Hour”. He was showcased in various different skits. Terry Molloy and Cat Smith were quite enjoyable amongst their gang of ukulele players. The audience was once again graced by the comic stylings of Hannah Harkness. The crowd also enjoyed the comedic singing of Andy Hicks. He sang a summary of each doctors’ time period using a popular song of that era. He had the audience laughing and toe tapping at the same time. And of course the fun continued with performances by the Antipode Geek Bellydance group. The variety show was followed by a Dance Party. Three other rooms offered a variety of activities until 11pm on Friday and Saturday. I consider the programming options to be one of the best parts of the ReGeneration Who convention.
Fans were also fortunate to be able to see Peter Capaldi (for what I understand to be his first interview since leaving Doctor Who), and Michelle Gomez on Saturday. While these popular panels were going on, I was learning about the wonderful people who staff the First Aid room. Many of these volunteers are actual Emergency Medical Technicians who volunteer their time to help sick or injured convention attendees. Morgan and Beth Kee were quick to assist me with a very sick baby.
Words cannot be enough to thank Kristen, who actually cleaned a fairly disgusting stroller while the hotel security quickly called an ambulance for the baby. (He is fine now). The following day, some very kind people at the hotel restaurant didn’t even charge me for the dry toast for the baby. I am very grateful to everyone for the assistance. I would recommend that parents bring extra clothing for older children too, as one never knows what could happen. Alternatively, one could also purchase a convention t-shirt for your child.
We were fortunate enough to attend Saturday evening’s production of The Greatest Cosplay Show in the Galaxy. There were some lovely costumes and performances. The baby loved the giant teddy bear wearing a Fourth Doctor Scarf. He actually started walking towards the stage with his arms out to hug it, while making kissy faces to give it a big kiss. This could have needed a laugh track, however, I think I was the only one who knew how funny this was, because my child loves bears! Ah… conventions with a baby! One of the costumes that caught my eye as stunning was Glynnis Vance portraying Romana One. She looked absolutely lovely in the white outfit with a fur collar Romana costume she had sewn. The game break featured a round of the Who-Lywed game, while another room enjoyed playing Jeopardy.
Another favorite pastime at this convention is browsing the Vendor Room and Artist Alley. Some of my favorite artwork included handcrafted jewelry by Sun Dame, and Fangirl Frames. I was also very excited to see the “Time of the Daleks” board game.
As a con-noisseur of various conventions, including Gallifrey One, Chicago Tardis, Visions, Awesome Con, Gen Con, and Escape Velocity (to name a few), I still consider ReGeneration Who to be one of my favorite conventions. There is always an activity for every one of every age. Panels also included writers and Big Finish. Other activities included, yoga, meals with guests, reading with writers, learning about puppets and prop building, self-defense, a ukulele jam session, and a memorial panel remembering Deborah Watling and Peter Miles to name a few. I highly recommend attending a future ReGeneration Who convention. I know I will.