Sunday, August 29, 2010

Tall Ships Festival - 8.28.10 - Post 1

There won't be many pictures in this post, but there will be many posts about this event to follow that will more than make up for that. :)

This post is about the fact that it's amazing what you can get if you ask nicely.

I decided to spend the $20 on a viewing and boarding pass for the Tall Ships event at Chicago's Navy Pier.  I figured it would make for a good day of shooting.

When I got there, it looked like the entirety of the Midwest had dumped onto the Navy Pier grounds.  The people were so thick you couldn't move.

I was slowly shuffling through the crowd towards the ticket booth when I saw a poster like this one:

See that top middle one?

So I figured, hey, I have a blog.  Blogs are considered media.  It can't hurt to ask, the worst they can do is say 'no', right?

It took some time to figure out where to go and who to talk to.

I went to one desk, who sent me to a tent who sent me to the other end of Navy Pier.  Ever been to Navy Pier?  The other end is *way* down there.  Google tells me the pier is 1.5 miles long.  I believe it.  I took that trip about 7 times over the course of the day - and those were just the "I'm at this end and I need to be at that end" direct trips.  Never mind the wander-around trips.

So anyway, I walk the mile and a half to the media desk and... No one's there.
But there's a phone number to call. I call and say "I'm a blogger. Any
chance I can get a media pass?"

Guy on the phone says, "Sure, I'll bring you one."

He comes down, has me leave name, email and phone, blog name and my I.D. They wanted the lanyard back.

That was all it took for me to officially be recognized as a member of the fourth estate.

This thing was the magic key to the Whole Wide World!

A.) Priority Boarding. I didn't have to stand in one line all day. That was very handy when the line for the Bounty was pushing 4 hours.  Now, I didn't ask what all kind of access this thing gave me, which was a huge mistake.  I'd find out through trial and error, but I'm definitely asking what it lets me do in the future so I don't lose time.  I only found out about the Priority Boarding when I asked a volunteer where a particular line started.  She noticed my Media badge and said, "Oh, you're media.  You don't stand in lines."  And she pointed me up the exit path and hollered to the gatekeeper to let me in.  Excellent.

B.) This was an almost. One of the smaller ships was done up as a
pirate ship, but it was for observation only - no boarding. But
following my new mantra of "all they can do is say no" I showed on of
the crew my magic pass and asked if I could board to shoot. He went to
go ask the captain. Before he could come back the effing COAST GUARD
showed up and boarded. So yeah, that was out. But it was close.

C.) Free Sailing Trips.  These tickets started at $44. They'd been officially sold out for three days. But I was walking past the boarding area and someone official-looking was yelling that they had stand by tickets for the cruise on the Tall Ship Windy leaving Right. Now. I show her the magic pass and say (and I was sure I was pushing my luck) "This doesn't get me on the sail-aways, does it?" And she says, "Actually it does, go down there." And then hollers to the crew that she's sending down one media person.

1. Free freaking sold-out tour!
2. I got to hoist the mizzen sail.
3. Timing is everything. It was a sunset tour! I really do live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
4. The crew wants me to post my stuff to my blog and drop the link on their Facebook page. Yay exposure!

D.) Second free tour.  I wanted to see (now that I knew of the potential) if I could get on another ship. But it was time to turn in my badge. So I hiked the mile and a half to the PR Room and asked if there was any way to keep my badge for a while and not only did the head guy say "yes" he took me down to the dock to try and get me on The Red Witch himself. (Which meant about a one mile hike back down to the boat.) There were some overbooking issues and they couldn't possibly have gotten me on the 8:30 sail, but they squeezed me on the 10:15.  And in the mean time I got to go shoot the 9:00 fireworks on the north side of the pier.

While the PR guy (I believe his name was John, but I'm not sure any more) and I were walking he asked if I was shooting "for anyone in particular".  I said I had a blog and he said that "blogs are important" and that it was a good way to get the word out about things like this.

And as a minor thing... there were snacks for us up in the Media Room. :)

I got about $115 worth of free admission because I had the Magic Media Pass.  The $20 general admission, and roughly $44 for each sail-away ticket.

So I'm going to go through the roughly 15 gigs of photos I took yesterday now.  I'm going to post in order of interest, not necessarily in chronological order of my day as I usually do for events like this.  The Windy wants me to post my shots from that trip and link into their Facebook page, so I'll probably start there.

And let me just say, I am asking for a Media/Press Pass anywhere I go that might have one from now on.  The worst they can do is tell me 'no'.  And the perks when they say 'yes', can be outstanding!

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