Today was a sad day in con history.
Because of safety mandates from the City of Orlando, Spooky Empire has been shut down in preparation for Hurricane Matthew, a category 4 storm that has already claimed the lives of over 200 people in the Bahamas and Haiti.
There are things we as a group of hardcore horror fans are not afraid of. But this storm has turned us into a depressed bunch, as if we lost a friend.
And the reason why is that we might have to, for reasons beyond anyone’s control.
Spooky Empire is the brainchild of a couple named Petey and Gina, who for years worked their butts off and invested in so much money to bring a vast array of guests to the public, people we only can dream about. I met many celebrity guests and artists the last few years, not to mention an amazing group of friends who have come from the volunteers who put on a great show each year.
We as a Spooky family are heartbroken, worried that a storm coined by Petey as an “act of God” can change a person’s life forever. And most likely not in a good way.
I don’t want to go into too much detail about them, but I know they are hard working people who didn’t deserve what Matthew has done to them or the city. The sad part is as of 2am on Friday as I write this, nothing has happened.
So many people are on the attack about refunds and are more angry than apologetic, as if Spooky would take the money and run and shut down the con as a scam. That’s not how it works. Not on Petey’s watch.
I have been to many conventions and events in my life, but not many have that atmosphere where you are first name basis with everyone involved down to some of the celebrities who frequent every year (Lloyd Kauffman refers to me as Tromanda now.) Spooky is our home. For three or four days every six months or so, we are back together like a family, sharing stories of fandom and having a beer or two by the pool. I don’t want to lose my family over a hurricane, but it is possible. Petey and Gina put their heart and soul into the event, they are truly the parents of Spooky Empire, and without them, I wouldn’t of found a sense of belonging and friendship beyond the gates of Disney. It’s hard to put that feeling into words.
We as a volunteer team are committed to finding ways to help them out. It seems silly to help out a couple that those in the outside world see as successful and “loaded” due to their status as promoters and hosts, But you have to be a frequent patron to the event to understand.They are everyday people like you and me, just trying to make the world a fun place to be.
We can overcome this. And we will.
Because we’re Spooky Empire.