July 11-13, 2017; Savannah, GA
The Grand Nest of the Honorable Order of the Blue Goose International held our annual convention in Savannah, Georgia this year, hosted by the southern region. Four of our ganders and geese attended – MLG Wendy Knizek, SOF Stacey Rose, PMLG and KGGE Angela Shears, and PMLG and Permanent Wielder Martin Moran. The trip was very worthwhile, and was a wonderful cap to an exciting year for the British Columbia Pond’s Centennial year, and a fantastic kick-off to an exciting 2017-2018!
Our ganders and geese spent some time in Charleston, SC, just a three hour drive away from Savannah before the convention. We mingled with members of the Manitoba Pond, and had a mini-vacation exploring southern culture and food before winging their way to Savannah in time for the welcome reception. You can see many of the photos from this side-trip on our Pond’s Facebook page.
Our convention hosts this year were the Southern Region, rather than being an individual pond. Southern Region has had some trouble in the last few years trying to have one pond step up and host a convention – so much so that Calgary stepped in and hosted for them in 2012. To try and combat the problem, Linda Meik and her Convention Committee worked as an entire region to bring the convention together. Despite Linda being based out of Dallas, the convention was hosted in the lovely city of Savannah, GA, and this was a wonderful way to accomplish a big task.
An innovative idea from the Southern Region was using yellow name badges for all first time attendees – 28 this year! – which helped to identify them for other ganders and geese to make them feel welcomed. They also had a theme for their convention – the Passport to the South. Each attendee was given a passport, and had to obtain a stamp from each of the ponds in the Southern Region, along with a stamp from each of the Grand Nest Officers. There were also stamps available for each of the evening activities on Day 1 and Day 2, and for each stamp collected, you received a ticket for the prize drawings at the Gala Ball. Truly, a fun idea!
Day 1 – Arrival; July 11
Our ganders arrived in Savannah by 4:00pm in order to attend the opening reception. The convention was held at the Hyatt Regency Savannah (not the Marriott Savannah, where Ganders Moran and Rose found they had no reservation….), a beautiful large hotel that allowed us to host all of our meetings, with any off-site activities being a short walk away.
Our first event was the traditional welcome reception, this time being held at Savannah Smiles, a local bar with dueling pianos, and that encouraged both some friendly fundraising and also some performances by one of our BC Ganders, backed on the drums by Michigan PMLGG Joe Cochia. The old rock and roll style tunes were crowd pleasers, and it was a great chance for everyone to mingle, re-connect, meet new friends, and kick the convention off with a good time.
The opening night is also Family Night, where the various Ponds trade pins amongst themselves, and this year the hunt for stamps for passports also occured. The evening was a great success, and once the partying wrapped up at Savannah Smiles, it carried on to various other establishments in the area.
Day 2 – Grand Nest Meetings, July 12
Our business meetings started on July 13, with a marching in of the colours by a Colour Guard, and the singing of both national anthems. Rather than a hockey game breaking out after the anthems, we had the traditional roll call. While necessary to confirm that our pond delegates are present, these are always a humourous way to start the day – especially when those responding may have had a late night.
Following the opening ceremonies, we had our memorial service. If you have never attended a convention, this service remembers each and every gander that has taken their last flight in the past year. The service this year was hosted by the Tennessee Pond, who did a beautiful job of the service. While the British Columbia Pond had two of our members take their last flight, John Ross and Stan Spencer, we also were sad to see the passing of two of our PMLGGs this year. Beautiful tributes to both were given.
The organizers also played a beautiful video – one I’ve seen before – called the Wisdom of Geese. If you haven’t ever watched it, it is worth the time.
We had a fantastic model initiation this year, presented by the Kentucky Pond. For those that haven’t seen a model initiation, a Pond is encouraged to take the Blue Goose Initiation Ceremony and play with it. In Kentucky’s case, they went down a natural path, and had a Kentucky Derby theme, replete with a stick-horse race. Not only that, but the British Columbia Pond had a member initiated in the ceremony this year – Welcome to Katheryn Jane, known as Katie J!
Katie J has attended several Blue Goose Conventions, but has never been a member. A long-time friend of Angela Shears, she has attended at least the last three conventions, and has acted as the nest mother to our Ganders and Geese as they attended the convention. Katie works in the industry in an administrative role, and is a welcome member of our pond!
On your marks….
The guest speaker at the industry luncheon this year was both an illusionist and an impressive speaker. Using our core precepts of Charity, Character and Fellowship, he talked to us about how to keep our organization fresh, alive and vibrant. Billy Riggs was both impressive with his illusions and impressive in the passion that he spoke to us about the work that we do in the Blue Goose. He certainly did some amazing tricks with PMLGG Lorena Kohlruss and PMLG Andrew Happer (Edmonton) and a few Rubix Cubes… honestly, it was amazing to watch, even if he looked kind of like Vizini from The Princess Bride.
Regional Break-out Meeting
After that time, we had our regional breakout meetings, and the BC Pond were in attendance at the Canadian Region Meeting. A wide variety of topics were covered, including the issue of the annual regional stipend from each pond for Canadian Conventions, the issue of theological references in both the initiation rite and the constitution and by-laws, and the issue of the apparent gender issues regarding title of Gander. Many of these are to be resolved on a pond level (as we have in BC with the use of both Gander and Goose), and some items have been struck to be worked on by individuals throughout the region.
There was some discussion of the Vancouver Island Puddle, and PMLGG Kohlruss has done a good job doing some organizing in that regard. It is hoped that the Vancouver Island Puddle will receive their paperwork during the convention in Edmonton in 2018.
Also of note was the fact that the meeing did have an official vote by the Canadian Region to have Vancouver host the next convention in 2022! After two long years of working towards this goal, we have officially been selected by the region. We will have an installation next year at the Edmonton convention!
With the end of a fairly busy day, there were some sighs of relief as we could wind down for a few moments, before preparing to board the Savannah Queen, a paddle-wheel styled riverboat. While not driven by the paddle wheels, she is an authentic recreation of the type of vessel that used to ply the rivers of the south. We were served a find buffet meal on board, and it was another great time for flocks to mingle between themselves. Once the boat was docked, the ganders were again able to mingle, and the hospitality suite was opened for the night, sponsored by the Edmonton, Dayton, and Hartford Ponds – the next three convention hosts. A fine time was had, and once again, ganders were free to roam afterwards, and we understand that several of Savannah’s finer (and not so fine) taverns turned a bit of profit that night.
Day 3 – Grand Nest Meetings, July 13, 2017
Edmonton Pond Convention Presentation
The day kicked off with a fantastic presentation of what the Edmonton Pond has planned for their convention next year. Hosting at the Westin Hotel in downtown Edmonton, there are fantastic excursions and shopping trips planned, along with wonderful evening activities. They certainly whetted the appetite for their convention next year, and the price of $169.00 for the hotel room block doesn’t hurt. The Registration Page should be up in January, according to Convention Chair Andrew Happer – so stay tuned!
We then started the business meetings with roll call, followed by discussions surrounding all of the ponds – participation rather than just membership, communication from pond executives to pond members, and charity work, along with the importance of reporting to the Grand Nest in a timely fashion.
This was followed by the awards, all of which have been re-named to reflect our current times. The Canadian Region won a membership award, and your humble British Columbia Pond won the Communications Award, along with the Tennessee Pond. This is due to all of the hard work on the website, Twitter, and Facebook pages in the last 4-5 years. Well done BC Pond!
Election of Officers
After the awards ceremonies, we had the election of officers for the Grand Nest. These include MLGG Mark Robertson, host of the 2018 Convention in Edmonton, AB; Grand Supervisor Kim Bilbrey from Ohio; Grand Custodian of the Ganders Dan Rich of Hartford Pond, and Grand Guardian of the Nest Michael Smith of Florida Pond. Congratulations to all of you! We also recognized Grand Historian John Bishop of the Nova Scotia Pond, and installed DMLGG Archie Gillis of the Nova Scotia Pond as the Grand Keeper of the Golden Goose Egg; both of these latter positions are permanent, as is of course that of Grand Weilder of the Goose Quill Terry Maloney.
In an interesting twist, incoming MLGG Mark Robertson was unable to travel due to health reasons, and attended the meeting by Skype. While he was truly missed, his willingness to be virtually present should be commended. Finally, several gifts and much thanks were heaped on (now) PMLGG Linda Meik for her work in the Southern Region.
After the election of the officers, and with Mark being unable to conduct such business remotely, it fell to Grand Supervisor Kim Bilbrey to perform the closing ceremonies on behalf of the group. With that, we were free to prepare for the Gala Ball!
The Gala Ball was held in the grand ballroom of the Hyatt Regency hotel, right along the riverway. The views were beautiful, the food delicious, the gowns lovely, and the Ganders and Geese were on pretty good behaviour overall. The band couldn’t wait to stop playing light music over dinner and kick up to dancing, and they provided it in a unique fashion – dancing us through the decades, starting in the 50s and moving up to today. Prizes were won, songs were once again drummed and sung (you have to change the tune, Joe!), and again, a fantastic time was had by all. We have heard tell of several geese that saw the light of morning while still in their party finery, and have even heard tell of some who might not have seen the light again until the afternoon of the 14th…
A word about Gordie the Goose
Gordie the Goose is a special little fellow. You can see that he has appeared in many photos with the BC Pond ganders, and also with the rest of the flock that had come together at Grand Nest. Gordie is the official mascot of the Edmonton Pond convention, and might just be the most fun-loving, party-going Gander of them all. You can follow his exploits on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Be sure to check him out, and if he makes an appearance in our Pond (perhaps, say at the A. Z. Delong Golf Tournament???), make sure you get your photo with him!