Nov 4 2006
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By Melissa Jenoff
Since this was my first convention as "staff", I was pretty nervous about it. We had thought about it for weeks and weeks, but with all the other things there are to do in life, the date just seemed to sneak up on me! Would the room be the right size? Would there be enough gifts and prizes? Would the games be fun and challenging? So many details to worry about, even down to the table decorations and keeping the posters up on the walls!!
There was a breakfast buffet of bagels, danishes, croissants, muffins, Dunkin Donut Holes (thank you Charlie!) fresh fruit, coffee, tea and juices. The caterer kept us well supplied all morning. Thanks to Bill we had a TV and DVD player, running movie clips, programs and interviews from over the years that Dale put together for us. Bill, you did a great job in securing our room and I know the whole event is well documented by your camera!!
We played several games: Kevin's "Olivia Trivia" with dry-erase boards so people had to stand in the middle of the room and compete with each other like on an actual game show. My idea of Pictionary, with 1 person drawing clues on an easel for Olivia related topics (eg "Sandy 1", "A Mom for Christmas", and "Boats Against the Current") so their table could guess the most right answers in a certain time period. My "Oliviaopoly", which is based on the Atlantic City game Monopoly but features sites in Olivialand (Gaia Retreat, her home in Malibu, tennis courts and wine vineyards) - see picture opposite click to enlarge. Dale's "Concentration", where people had to uncover and make pairs of cards with different Olivia looks on them. Kevin ran "Name That Tune" with some very difficult first notes of more obscure songs, and also a very interactive "Album Flash", where the player had to line up album covers in the correct order of release, which was much more difficult than we imagined! There were buttons and postcards with Dale's convention logo at everyone's place at the table, and balloons and confetti as well. We offered ONJCC wrist bands, Wellwishers, and ROCKINC booklets to those who wished to contribute $10. We sold the wrist bands and dog tags from the OO Charity Store as well.
We had a silent auction consisting of 6 items: the new Michelle Day white dress print, the Michelle Day color photo from the birthday collection, an autographed "Pig Tale" book, a copy of "Grace and Gratitude" signed by both Olivia and Amy Sky, a signed, mint condition Physical poster, and the "Barbie as Sandy" doll. Most of these had already been signed by Olivia prior to convention day, but 2 were signed then and all were personalized to the winners. Thank you to the generous bidders! Your money will be sent to the ONJCC very soon.
We raffled off 4 posters for $1 a chance-a signed GREASE poster, a close up from the 70's, and a combination of the HBO concert promo and a "ruffled shirt/headband" concert shot. Thanks to all who bought chances. That money will go to ONJCC as well, bringing the grand total up to $730.
Several hundred dollars worth of CDs, DVDs, books, tour programs, movie programs from the US and other countries, VHS tapes, magazines, black and white photos, rare items like pins and postcards, G'Day LA programs, and posters were given as prizes. No one walked away empty handed. Thank you, Kevin, for helping me buy these gifts and auction items over the course of the last year, and to the generous fans who brought us their gifts to contribute!
We were about 3 ½ hours into the event, having played all of the games and given away the prizes, and people were taking their posters down from the walls to take home. Then, suddenly, the door burst open and we heard a voice cry out "Hello everybody!! I'm HERE!!" Olivia had just stepped into the room, wearing a brown suede jacket, leopard print top, and long black denim skirt and boots. She had big sunglasses on to hide her identity from the casino gamblers, and whipped them off in front of us with a big flourish. People gasped, and I jumped up just as Kevin was saying to me "SHE'S HERE!!!" He and I ran to greet her, and hugged her, as did Bill and Dale, thanking her over and over for coming. People started to clap, and Olivia looked overwhelmed by the effort it took to get there, but also really honored by the amount of people in the room, and the welcome that we gave her, and laughed as she told us how difficult it was to find us. She and Steve Real had left Harrah's around noon, but didn't realize how difficult it would be to cross the 4 lane highway (with concrete center barrier) between Harrah's and Trumps' Marina, where we were. We were all shocked as she relayed the story of running to the casino, then through it, asking a security guard "I'm Olivia Newton-John, and my fans are holding a convention for me. Where is the room?!!" He was obviously surprised and had no idea. However, Olivia and Steve found us, catching Shelia in the hallway as she was leaving and bringing her back to the room! Thank goodness no one missed Olivia's appearance!!!
Olivia said she wanted to surprise us all, and she sure did! Someone handed her a microphone and she thanked all of us for our support and for being there that day. Steve told us we would have about 5 to 10 minutes with her, but Olivia saw the amount of people that were present, and that we all would want pictures, so she said "Oh, we can stay longer than that! But I am hungry, we haven't had lunch!" She saw our buffet table and asked me "Oh, you had breakfast?" We offered her orange juice and she commented that we know about helping the blood sugar level! She also ate a plate of honeydew. A few people had their video cameras going by that time.
We started to take photos, and everyone was extremely respectful and polite (I knew they would be!) and it all went smoothly. If a photo didn't come out right, Olivia said they would take another. Many people got hugs and got to say a few words. Then I asked Olivia if she didn't have too much more time, could she at least sign a few of the silent auction items for the winners, as we had promised that they would be autographed. Kevin had already taken them out to the hallway table, and she said "Of course." She signed so many things that morning!
As Olivia was personalizing the auction items she said, "You guys shouldn't spend your money on this stuff!" Then after Dale related his funny Walgreens breast kit episode, she said to us "I am going to send you some breast kits!" Dale said "There should be men's supplements as well", and Olivia agreed "Yes. Men get breast cancer too!"
Someone had the presence of mind to ask for a group photo, and people got into place back in the room, so that when Olivia was done signing, she could come right in and sit at the center. We took quite a few photos, and then she chatted with a few people a bit more.
Then, knowing that Olivia doesn't particularly want gifts for herself from her fans, I presented Olivia with a gift from the staff for Jack: A bag of organic "Harvest" treats in the shape of turkeys, pumpkins, and apples from a store here in Columbus (with the store info and web address taped to it in case Jack really loves them!) and a vinyl, collapsible water bowl from "Life is Good", so that she doesn't have to feed him water from her hands anymore when they take walks, like we saw in a photo from the Walk For Hope in LA!!
A manager from Trump's had come into the room by that time, and offered to help Olivia out by a better, safer way. A few of us escorted her to the back stairway, and we thanked her and Steve once again for coming.
After Olivia left the building, everyone wanted to stay and keep the moment alive! Everyone I talked to throughout the day and evening said they were still riding that high that we all felt when she first entered the room and yelled "Hello everybody!!!"
Thank you to those who helped us in any way prepare for this day, and to everyone who attended and made this such a great event! Your support for the convention, and for the fan club, is very much appreciated.
Thank you, Steve, for escorting Olivia to our little gathering, and for standing back and watching all of us get excited and emotional! We appreciate your support of "Only Olivia."
And thank you, Olivia, for spending so much of your free time with us, and for making such an extraordinary effort to be with your fans. You made so many people happy on Saturday, and we truly appreciate it! We love you, Olivia!
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