One Man's Adventure at Christmas Con
I was leaving Overland Park, Kansas, this past June after spending three days with family and as the lights of the city descended in my rearview mirror, I felt a spirit of tremendous contentment.
A few hundred of us had gathered at the convention center, visiting, celebrating and just generally having a great time.
That’s right, a few hundred. It’s an extremely large family after all.
There are tens of thousands of us spread across the United States, Canada, and anywhere else people gather to watch the most magnificent of holiday treats, the Hallmark Christmas Movie.
That’s right, I’m a Hallmarky. I watch every single one of the Hallmark Christmas movies as they come out in late November and December.
By the way, as every true Hallmark Christmas Movie fanatic knows, it’s currently Christmas in July on the Hallmark Channel with Christmas movies airing all month long. Take Me Back for Christmas, a new movie just released this month, happens to be on my television at this very moment. Vanessa Lengies is great.
The reason for our Kansas gathering was Christmas Con, the golden opportunity to meet, face-to-face, up-close-and-personal, some of our favorite stars from the movies.
Tyler Hynes, Andrew Walker, Nikki DeLoach, Taylor Cole, Benjamin Ayres, Danica McKellar, and more were all there.
Christmas Con is staged twice a year by That’s 4 Entertainment. One is held each December in New Jersey while the June event moves around the country. This year it happened to be in Kansas, about a six-hour drive from my Iowa home.
It was truly sensory overload for this Hallmark fanatic.
There’s so much going on. There’s the chance to have your photo taken with, and get autographs from, the stars; there’s the panel discussions with the stars talking about their movies and themselves that go on throughout the event; there’s the Christmas tree lighting, of course there is, complete with fake snow falling from the convention center ceiling; there was even a red carpet screening of a new Hallmark movie coming out this fall. We were the first and only ones to see it before it airs!
Meeting the stars is by far the top reason we were all there.
A few of the big names, Lacey Chabert, Rachel Boston, Brennan Elliott and Catherine Bell, for instance, had to cancel at the last minute. What was then an impending writers’ strike, and has now become reality, forced several movies to move up their filming schedules to get them completed before the strike began.
But that’s OK because there were still a lot of stars there.
The actors each have their own high-top table/booth with fans lining up to take turns meeting them. They do charge for the photos and autographs, $40 for one or the other, or both for $70.
The crazy thing is that it becomes addictive. I’m not a gambler, but I imagine it’s the same feeling someone gets at a casino. Each time you meet one of the stars, you get a rush of adrenaline that makes you want to meet the next, and the next, and the next.
I had photos taken with Autumn Reeser, Ashley Williams, Erin Cahill, and Paul Campbell. It was so very tempting to do more, but I cut myself off at that point and my wallet thanked me.
We all know on some surface level that the stars are people, just like you and me, who happen to have very public, exciting jobs.
The thing is, they really are people just like you and me.
Every one of them was down to earth, willing to take the time to talk with the fans, and, possibly most importantly, genuinely thankful for their fans.
All four of the ones I met were great. Erin Cahill, especially, has won a fan for life. I really felt like we’d known each other our entire lives.
A little side note, the convention isn’t restricted solely to Hallmark actors. Though the majority of them are at Hallmark, Danica McKellar is now with GAC, and Melissa Joan Hart, from Lifetime, and Barbara Eden, yes THAT Barbara Eden, were also there.
As for that feeling of contentment I mentioned above, that came from my family. Attending a Christmas Con, surrounded by so many like-minded fans, you really come to realize that being a Hallmarky means you’re part of a wonderful extended family.
All of us were just so happy to be there and be a part of everything. I will forever remember the countless conversations I had with so many people standing in line, sitting in on the panel discussions, and in the hotel lounge after the day’s activities are done.
From the stars, to the fans, to the people working the event, it was one big Christmas family.
Alan Campbell retired two years ago and now travels constantly, experiencing new adventures and hunting for the quirkiest of things. He chronicles his trips on his Instagram account, @alansheaven, and, when he finds the time between trips, his blog, alansheaven.com.