NE PezCon 14, Part 1: The Arrival
And The Pez Visitor's Center top of
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The NEPezCon 14 recap is so lengthy that I have decided to split it
into two parts. In Part 1 below, I mainly focus on my trip to the Pez
Visitor's Center. In Part 2, which will be published in the June 2012
issue, I'll mainly focus on the VIP tour of the Pez
the Pez Visitor's Center, after you read the recap and see the
pictures, it may feel like you've already been there. Let me assure
you, though, that NOTHING can beat actually going to Orange,
Connecticut, and experiencing it for yourself! Go here
Lastly, I have higher res
versions of most pictures included in this recap, and will gladly send
them upon request.)
had the extreme pleasure and privilege to attend NE PezCon 14 in
Connecticut. This was another fantastic Pez convention that just so
provide me with some of the best moments I have ever had as a Pezhead.
The Calm Before The Storm
first time at NE PezCon. This year, to save some money and
because I did not want to deal with the hassle of air travel and
rental car, I decided to drive. So, I threw a bunch of songs
on the iPod,
set aside a whole lot of gas money, and hit the road for an epic road
was about 14 hours from my place to the convention, so I split the
both to and from the hotel. So, I guess if you count the 2 overnight
rooms along the way, and, yes, all that gas money, I did not save all
much. But, whatever. I was still glad to have my own car and the
come and go on my own terms.
for those travelling east: Pennsylvania is a very wide state! But
choose the I-80 over the I-70, as there are considerably less tolls on
route. I learned that one the hard way!)
at the hotel early Thursday evening, quite tired from the road. I had
missed the swap party, where non-dealers could buy, sell, and trade
other in a central location. In recent years I had come to enjoy this
the convention, as I always seem to have some extras to sell, and it’s
fun to give away back issues of previous Pez Poetry Slams. I brought
just a few
extras to Connecticut this year, and although I did not get to sell
will bring them to Cleveland in July for Pezamania, to hopefully sell
again meeting the wonderful convention hosts Richie and Mary, picking
up my registration
packet (including the special
lanyard and pass needed for certain convention
events), and getting
some dinner, my energy level started to decline drastically. I did
manage to do
a small amount of room hopping. I quickly found Russ and Rick’s room,
was pleased to find and purchase the new HyVee promotional hauler and
Puck European dispenser. But, after just a few more rooms, I shuffled
my own room and was soon in bed. I knew that the next day was going to
magical, and I could not wait for it to arrive. Like a kid waiting for
it was hard to wind down at first, but eventually I faded off to sleep.
that while I slept, visions of Pez dispensers danced in my head, but
facts: that happens even when I’m awake.
To Visit, Perchance To Dream
out with quite a grand experience, one that was in fact the main reason
found myself in Stamford on that mild Spring weekend: an exclusive bus
from NE PezCon 14 to the new Visitor’s Center at the Pez factory in
Connecticut. When Richie announced that this would be happening, way
during last year’s NE PezCon, I knew this was an opportunity that I
could not pass up. Even if money was going to be a little tight, even
if I was
trying to stay closer to home this year, I did not want to look back
realize that I missed out on this. This feeling was only magnified when
learned that convention goers would also be treated to an exclusive VIP
the Pez factory itself. By the beard of
buses left the convention hotel that Friday morning, starting at 8am.
them jam-packed with Pezheads from around the world, eager for the
And when I say “from around the world”, that’s no exaggeration: there
people from the US West coast, Germany, Austria, Israel, and I am sure
many other places both near and far.
was on the
last bus, leaving at 11am, and quite thankful for it. In addition to
exactly being a morning person, I knew when planning for the convention
any rest I could get after the long drive to the convention would be
gathered in the lobby about a half an hour before the bus took off.
Richie was really scrambling to round up a few people who weren’t there
said that a few people on earlier buses had missed them. Now, don’t get
wrong. I know plans change, alarms are forgotten, and what have you.
could not imagine that people would purposefully miss this, after
and making the trek all the way to Connecticut from who knows where.
those people who missed the bus were able to make it to the Visitor’s
regardless (as it was also open to the public), even if they were not
make it to the VIP factory tour.
11am came and we all boarded the bus. I was armed with my trusty
which had my iPad (complete with pictures of my collection), some
copies of the
2011 Pez Poetry Slam (one of which would be put to great
use later in the day), my black hoodie, and as many
Pez-filled hopes and dreams that would fit. And spending money,
spending money. On the bus, I chatted with some nice Pezheads who I had
before. We swapped stories about our collections and what we were
at this convention. We all agreed that this bus trip was a special
and it was quite nice to be having that shared feeling with everyone.
hour later, we arrived at the Pez factory. Now, I had stopped
by the factory
after last year’s convention, but that was before the Visitor’s
Center was built, and the factory was also closed because it was
time around, it was quite a different story.
pulled around the corner, we got our first glimpse at the Visitor’s
Complete with three
giant rolls of Pez candy on the exterior! I
peered out the window and saw a long line just waiting to get into the
Most people were staying on the bus, but I simply could not sit still.
up and got right off that bus, and got a
closer look at those giant candy rolls.
And, I got a peek at the
back end of all of the Pez that was for sale inside.
And, oh yeah, that
But I was not fazed. I even asked one of my new Pezhead friends to take
picture of me in front of the building.
the green Pez shirt in front. I was a little surprised to not see
wearing that particular t-shirt that day. But I was much, much more
to notice someone wearing a Pezhead Monthly t-shirt a short while
someone would be Lisa Martell, who was nice enough to contribute
year’s Pez Poetry Slam. Thanks again, Lisa!)
more minutes of gazing at that line, wondering when we’d ever get into
place, I turned to see Richie hold up a bright pink piece of paper and
towards the door. I looked around and noticed other Pezheads from the
him, and I joined the crowd. We were walking right in, ahead of the
felt bad for those people who were already waiting, but frankly, not
After all, Pez collectorship has its privileges!
entered the first set of doors, I was greeted with a couple of great
spectacles. The first, right in the middle of that room and hung from
ceiling, was the
legendary Pez chopper.
Then, there was a giant
wall of Pez dispensers.
door to the main room, a sign welcomed us in:
Great to be here! “You’re welcome”, I heard the sign speak to me.
to be here! “You’re welcome”, I heard the sign speak to me. Thanks!
Great to be
here! “You’re welcome”, I heard the sign speak to me. I was like, woah.
of this frivolity. It was time to get down to business. Admittedly, a
that was itself strongly intertwined with frivolity. But still.
through that next set of doors, and that’s when it really hit me: I had arrived. All of these years as a
Pez collector, from the initial days in college, to all of the
the tireless hunting in stores, flea markets, eBay… it had all led me
A bit melodramatic? Perhaps. But all around me at that moment were
who I’ve been for almost half of my life: an unapologetic Pezhead,
admiration for a hobby filled with so much color, history, pop culture,
laughter, joy, fun, life. There was a palpable feeling of good in that room. It was real, and
wonderful, and honestly I was
getting a little dizzy. I felt it instantly, with an intensity that had
unmatched since my first Pez convention back in 2001.
way up- to behold a very cool sight: a giant, motorized Pez dispenser!
what I’m talking about. To get a quick glimpse of the giant dispenser
action, click here.
looked down, at eye level, and noticed the crowds. This place was jam
reminded me of the Saturday floor show at Pez conventions, or the
times I’ve been to Chicago Comic-Con. It was a bit overwhelming to have
many people all around. The place
with curious travelers, lots of kids (no doubt enjoying some spring
and a day off of school), and of course many other Pezheads from my bus
am sure a few other buses that left prior to ours. I had mixed feelings
this. While it was really hard to move around, and there were lines
everywhere you turned, it was also quite nice to see so many people
come out to
check out this great place. Whether they came on a bus or in a Honda
these were people who appreciated Pez and made a special trip out there
learn and experience more about it. When it comes down to it, that’s
not a bad
thing at all.
1 of the NE PezCon 14 recap continues here
and contains a LOT more pictures!
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