“Sometimes the cards ain’t worth a dime
Lately, it occurs to me
What a long, strange trip it’s been”
(Jerry Garcia; Bob Weir; Phil Lesh)
The history of how the Hartford Convention took a long strange trip and shape-shifted from 2020 to 2021 and then into a Days of Fellowship is a saga that unfurled over six years of planning starts, a stop, a second start, a second stop, and an eventual reimagination.
Our convention committee started planning the 2020 convention in 2015, when I succeeded the National Capital Pond’s Bill Olson as a Grand Nest Officer for the Eastern Region. As 2015 slowly gave way to the years that followed, our team assembled an ambitious fun filled convention for 175- 200 Ganders and guests to be held at the Hartford Marriott in July 2020. A 60’s themed Welcome Party, live performances of the national anthems, remarks from Jim Calhoun, a golf tournament, a dinner cruise with a steel drum band, a trip to a vineyard, ballroom dancing with mimosas, a magician, a spouse program, a children’s program, a gala Banquet and Ball, a registration website, and corporate and individual sponsors were all set and ready to go. Decorations and goodie bags were ready. We were just four months away.
And then came along March 2020 and we all learned a new word – “Coronavirus”. As the virus spread, we started to see Blue Goose events cancelled on both sides of the border. We were first optimistic that things would be fine by the summer, but that turned out to be wishful thinking and we had to postpone the July 2020 convention and reschedule it for the following year.
That involved a lot of moving parts, as Blue Goose needed to move the Grapevine, TX Convention from 2021 to 2022 and the Whistler, BC Convention from 2022 to 2023. This required a lot of behind the scenes work, but we got all of our geese in a row and were thrilled to see all of the dominoes successfully fall into place.
We had to reschedule every single speaker, performer, and activity to move from 2020 to 2021, and miraculously we were able to do just that.
But as we entered late 2020 and early 2021, the public health picture was still bleak, and it was becoming clear that our vision of a large “conventional” convention at the Hartford Marriott for 175 people just wasn’t in the cards for a second consecutive year. So, we cancelled our Marriott contract as well as all our contracts with Tunxis Country Club for golf, two restaurants, two bands, a magician, Coach Calhoun, a dinner cruise, and a transportation company.
And now we’ve planned a third version of our summer get-together, albeit a slimmed down and very different version. It will be a two-day affair held live in Glastonbury with live streaming available to any member that would like to be a part of this historic event.
Some of the event will be familiar to you Convention veterans -you’ll see the delegate voting for, and the installation of the officers, charity presentations and an activity, and the Memorial Service. Some of the event will have a different look, like an afternoon visit to a winery and an outdoor socially distanced dinner.
None of this would have been possible without the best and hardest working Convention Committee in the 115 years of Blue Goose history. Thank you, Mark Angiletta, Kevin Brady, Jon Hale, Wendy Hubbard, Lisa Kane, Lori Kovanda, Bill Mullen, Bob Partridge, Paula Pelletier, Sue Rich, and Meeting Planner Extraordinaire Cheryl McShane.
I also want to thank my colleagues on the Grand Nest for their support, advice, understanding, flexibility and most of all, their friendship.
Dan Rich, Most Loyal Grand Gander