Interview with Nikki "Y2Hecate" Owens: Chairwoman of the 2007 Gathering of the Gargoyles

1. What made you want to host a Gathering, and in Pigeon Forge no less?
Nikki: Well, I had been thinking about it for a while, because Pigeon Forge is a big tourist area that I thought everyone would enjoy. And also, through running my campus Japanese Club, I found out that I enjoy organizing fun events for people.

2. Did you grow up in Pigeon Forge?
Nikki: No, I'm a Yankee, born and raised in Northern Illinois, with a little time spent in California and Washington state. I moved to Tennessee in 97,right before I found the Gargoyles fandom. I don't live in Pigeon Forge, though. I'm a little over an

hour away. The town's filled with so much tourist stuff, I'm not sure that many people actually grow up there. 

3. What is there to do in the area?
Nikki: ... everything? It seems like it anyway. Dollywood Amusement Park is the main draw, I think. But there are just tons shows; dinner shows, Chinese acrobats, Dixie Stampede, comedy acts, etc. Then there's the museums and similar places like Wonder Works and Ripley's/Ripley's Aquarium. Numerous go-cart tracks and minigolf courses. Shopping centers, bungee jumping, helicopter tours, at least two lazer tag arenas I can think of; practically right across the road from the hotel there's an indoor skydiving place...and that's just what is available off the top of my head. There's also the neighboring towns of Seviereville and Gatlinburg, just a short trolly ride away, with even more stuff.

4. That sounds pretty packed for a "small town." So what is Dollywood, and what is it like to go there?
Nikki: Dollywood's.. a theme park! :D It's one of Dolly Parton's pet projects, and it's really neat, I think. Much of it's got a Southern/Country theme to it, with water wheels and log cabin-looking structures, hand-made soap, candy, crafts, glass, etc. A lot of the park is kind of set into the woods and mountains, so despite all the excitement, there's rest locations and opportunity for a calming nature experience too. There's all the normal kinds of rides you'd find at any other theme park - roller coasters, log rides, and such. They change around their "main draw" ride all the time. Currently it's a new attraction they're opening just before our con arrives called "Mystery Mine", which is supposed to be a real screamer of a coaster that takes you through an abandoned coal mine. The place is just an all-around good time.

5. I understand there's a trip planned there for after the convention ends?
Nikki: Yep! We're planning on heading over to Dollywood with anyone who wants to go, shortly after Closing Ceremonies on Monday afternoon. If going with our group, you'll get a discount on your Dollywood Admission ($39 including tax. More if you want to go to Dollywood's Splash Country, the partner water park, as well). And since we'll be arriving sometime after 3pm, we'll be allowed to return to the park on Tuesday for free if we want; giving everyone plenty of time to explore and have fun.
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Interview with Nikki, cont.

6. How hard is it to run the con, how much of your time does it take up?
Nikki: Harder than a gargoyle's skin in the daytime, and more time than you can shake a Puck at. ;b

7. If someone wanted to be on a convention’s staff, is it just a matter of letting others know you are willing to help out, or is there more to it?
Nikki: I'd say the first way to ensure that you're on a future con staff is to form your own staff (you don't have to be con chair), and put together a bid. That's pretty much what I did. Other than that, if you find out who's going to bid or what bid was

chosen, the best solution is to contact them and volunteer. Let them know what you're willing to do, or what services you can provide. Even if it's just a gopher or con suite guardian, every con needs volunteers on staff.

8. If someone wants to help out this year, how should they go about volunteering?
Nikki: All anyone needs to do is send an email to and tell us that you'd like to help. You can list things you're good at, specific events you want to help with, or even just that you're up for anything. We'll put you on our volunteer list, and we'll let you know what areas we could use your help in. We'll need the most help at the con itself, so if you think you'll have some extra time that weekend, we'd really appreciate any time you can spare.

9. Do you expect the comic book being out will bring more attendees to the convention this year?
Nikki: I can hope. Honestly, I think the convention does more for promoting the comic book sales, but I'm sure it helps our attendance at least a little. It can't hurt, anyway. If it sparks more interest in the Gargoyles story, we're bound to get more people finding the online fandom, and then it's hard NOT to learn about the con and join in on the fun.
10. What has you staff been doing to try to get new people to attend the Gathering?
Nikki: We're promoting a lot locally through college campus venues and local media. We're also sending out ads/flyers to other conventions of various types (sci-fi, comics, furry, art, fantasy, etc.), and frequenting forums that might have interest in Gargoyles or related themes, letting them know we exist.

Word of mouth is a really great tool, and it's not just available to the con staff. :) It'd be great if all the fans would help spread the word to the venues they frequent, both online and offline. We all know how great Gargoyles is and how fun it is to hang out at the con. Let's give everyone else a clue too, even if it's just a text link to The Gathering.

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Interview with Nikki, cont.
11. Do you think a lot of the locals are likely to be interested in coming?
Nikki: Definitely! I know more than a handfull of people that I've talked to in my college courses that get all excited at the mention of Gargoyles. They had no idea that stuff was still happening with the property. Once we fill them in about the DVDs, comics, and convention, they're usually pretty set on going. I usually carry registration forms with me for that very reason!

12. What makes the Gathering in Tennessee different from the previous ones?
Nikki: Opportunities to meet new people, as always, since the change in location each year allows for people to attend that couldn't previously due to distance. We're bringing back some old favorite events, and trying to find new ones that we hope people will like as well. We're the least expensive Gathering as far as room costs and registration within the last few years; since it's such a tourist area, we were able to arrange some good deals. And of course, different scenery, local attractions, and places to eat.

13. How did your staff decide on the Hotel?
Nikki: We went around to all of the places which had convention or meeting space suitable for our estimated numbers, and just looking at some of the places was enough to disqualify them. A few just weren't close to ANY food, or were kinda dumpy. Then we started asking questions about the cost of their hotel rooms and the cost of renting the meeting space. That cut out even more, because a few were just far too expensive,

when we found rooms just as nice elsewhere for less. And one convention space wasn't attached to a hotel at all, so no discounts or negotiations were possible for getting everyone good room prices. We finally narrowed it down to three really nice hotels for decent prices. One we decided against because the price was the same as The Grand, but the rooms were smaller and cramped, with no big suites. It came down to two locations. The other place was willing to give the convention highly discounted meeting space, but in return, they'd charge our attendees even

more for hotel rooms. No negotiating. That's what their terms were.. and we just didn't like that. The Grand was more than willing to negotiate a great price for our attendee hotel rooms, nearly half of what other places were asking. And on top of that, we were given an awesome discount on the meeting room space, which is also on a ladder system, so that the more rooms that are booked under The Gathering group, the more money the convention saves. So everyone wins. The Grand was near the top of our list from the start, and we hope everyone will be as happy with it as we are.

14. Many other small anime cons die out, yet this one has stuck around. What keeps the Gathering going?
Nikki: It's two things mainly. First of all, Gargoyles is just that awesome of a story. It appeals to such a wide variety of people from all walks of life, of all ages, that it sticks. If it wasn't so great, then the fans wouldn't fight


Interview with Nikki, cont
so hard to keep it alive, and wouldn't bother celebrating it with a convention for a whole weekend each year. But it is, so we do. And we're the second thing that keeps The Gathering alive. The fans. Each and every one of them, even if they can't make it to the con. We keep it going because it's fun, we love it, and we enjoy celebrating the show that brought us all together in the first place. Or it's the caffeine.. no wait. That's what keeps the staff going. Nevermind. 

15. What is the likelihood of Pigeon Forge getting a third special guest? Are there any people in particular you would like to invite?
Nikki: It's not really known at this point. There are a couple of local artists/actors that we would like to invite, schedules allowing, which we think have valuable tips for our attendees. As for more Gargoyles-related guests, it's probably more unlikely, but that can always change, especially if we get more people registering.

And if I could invite anyone, without restriction, I'd invite Brent Spiner, because I'm a Puck fangirl. ^_^ But as a more practical answer, I'd really love to be able to invite Greg Guler or Keith David back if possible.

16. Many attendees say they met some of their closest friends at the Gathering, is that true for you?
Nikki: Definitely. Most of my closest friends were met at The Gathering, either that, or we met online through the Gargoyles fandom, and then met in person for the first time at The Gathering. It's a really great opportunity to reunite with friends from all over the world, as well as make new ones.

17. Can you hint at any surprises that might be in store for attendees this year?
Nikki: Nothing's been confirmed just yet, but we're discussing new Clan Olympics games and Mini-golf with Special Guests.

18. Would you host a Gathering again?
Nikki: Yes, I'd do it again. Definitely. As much time and effort as it takes, and as stressful as it can become, it's totally worth it to create such a fun event for everyone. I'm really excited for this year's con, and now that I've had the experience, I think it'd be at least a little easier to do it again, and hopefully have a chance to improve on some things.

The 2007 Gathering of the Gargoyles website * Con Forum * Contact Y2Hecate