Monday, October 05, 2009

Tales from the Chicago Ghost Conference

On behalf of co-host Mike McDowell and conference organizer Wanda Spudic, I want to thank, this Monday morning, all of the wonderful friends--old and new--who joined us this weekend for the second Chicago Ghost Conference at the Portage Theater. Dennis Wolciewicz's beautiful venue was the perfect spot for this event, and so many people commented on this, as well as on how untiring and friendly the entire staff was. Indeed, all in the Portage family seemed completely at our service the entire time, whether we needed more chairs, a special cord for a radio broadcast, or more popcorn and beer!

I think all were impressed by the turnout; we were pleased to welcome nearly three hundred attendees over the two-day conference, along with nearly a dozen speakers from around the country, all of whom did an incredible job in presenting their range of perspectives on the world of the paranormal.

I want to especially thank my dear friend, Jeff Belanger, for being with us this weekend. It has been an honor and a priviledge to know him these past years, and we were delighted to have him speaking for our own event. Of course, I cannot thank enough Lorraine Warren, who traveled such a distance to spend some time with us, and who was so gracious and friendly to all. I would also like to thank Dave Schrader of Darkness Radio for helping us out in so many ways before and during the conference. When we needed to replace a speaker or two, he stepped right in to help us find a replacement right away, including securing an appearance by Chicago Paranormal Detectives, from the upcoming A&E show, "Paranormal Cops."

Scott Jackson, once again, was a pleasure to have with us. His generous "sneak preview" of his acclaimed Halloween Art Exhibit impressed all of us, and his conference poster/t-shirt design stunned us all. What a warm, positive person--and a dear friend to our conference.

A special thanks to the ghost hunting groups who set up temporary headquarters with us this weekend. This awesome "encampment" included some of the most devoted groups around, including P.R.I.S.M., Chicago Paranormal Investigators and the Indiana Ghost Trackers, and we were so pleased that Ghostly Talk was willing to make the grueling trip to record our speakers and attendees for the archives of their hugely popular radio broadcast.

Thank you to our tour guides for beautifully executing a difficult tour on Friday: one hundred and forty people boarding three buses in the rain at 8:30pm! I heard so many compliments on the tour, making the effort more than worthwhile. And thank you, Wendy Weaver, the pilot of the famous Ghost Bus, for safely shuttling our precious speakers and friends between the hotel and the theater, whenever necessary, and for filling in as a helper whenever she was needed--and even letting me cry on her shoulder when something went wrong!

Thanks to all of you who attended and promoted this event for so many months. I said before and will say again: We plan every speaker, the careful timing of their talks, where each vendor will set up, when to begin and end, what hotel to choose, when to have the lunch break. What we don't plan is how it feels. Every conference has a different level of "conferring," as it were, among the attendees. I think everyone was blown away by the fervent and easy exchange of ideas and theories, methods and directions this weekend. As Lorraine Warren herself exclaimed: "What a wonderful group of people!" I fully agree.

Thank you, all.

Wanda would like to add . . .

I would really like to thank Leslie Adkins from the Post Tribune for her advertising efforts not only with her paper but also many of the Chicago papers, along with my very good friend, Troy Wilkey, for the creation and upkeep of the conference 'my space' page! Once again, I'd like to thank my wonderful husband Mike for giving up so much of his time to help out and listen to me ramble about plans and details every day for almost 10 months! I'd also like to thank my business partner and very good friends, Danielle Garrison, and her husband Ron, who changed their plans at the last minute and came out to help us! We could not have pulled this off without their behind the scenes help!(Ron even helped Dave work to repair the ghost bus and got a cab for Ursula's mom and her kids in the rain on Friday night!) I have to reiterate Ursula's remarks about Jeff Belanger and Dave Schrader...they will be invited to every conference we do from here on out; they did so much for us, again, behind the scenes that no one knows about! Last but certainly not least, I'd like to thank my very close friends, Phil Holman, Tammy Weaver, and JC Rositas for all of their help dj'ing, running the sound, decorating, and for all of their emotional support!

Until next year....

Warm Regards,