IMPORTANT MESSAGE FOR ALL MEMBERS ABOUT EVENTS

FANGS

Commanding Officer
Community Staff
Division Staff
Hello all. Division is working together with Regiment staff on putting together a FAQ about events which should be coming out shortly. This will deal with not only the behaviour that is expected of each of us but also, and very importantly, how to keep yourself safe and how to train handlers.

Being a group that is a young as we are when it comes to events outside of conventions, most of you aren't going to believe that what we are going to include in this message and in the FAQ are necessary. I hope the addition of the below video will display much better than words exactly what we are talking about and why these steps in handler training and member awareness are important for all of us to not only to learn but to keep learning and teaching so we never forget.

John Groves / WiskTangFoxt was recently at a promotional event for Halo Outpost Discovery for us. John had at least one handler with him. He was scheduled to have two, I believe, but it may have been that he had one for each of the two shows and not two at once. Regardless, that handler was there to help him suit up.

I believe that John met with the event point of contact who at some point took John to the change room, which was a locker room. I'm not sure on the details here but I do know that John was taken out 3 times over the course of the game - once before the game, once at half time and once at the end. John does not recall hearing any announcements being made about HOD so we aren't sure if that ever happened. What we do know though is that technically John was on the Court - sort of. John was taken out all three times to the area just behind the net. There was no staff member with him. And people had free access to him from all directions. He was at no time taken on the court proper (out in the middle) which was what our understanding of the event was. John's handler recorded a portion of one of those times which I will post below. John has kindly given me permission to share this with all of you.

When you watch the video I want you to be aware of a few things. First - note John's body language. You can clearly see him waving his finger at a child who has just yanked at, and tore, his butt plate. Secondly, you can see him continue to move to see what's coming at him. But you can also see the kids learning very quickly what John can and can't see. John does his very best to pose for photos etc., but it does not really stop kids coming at him from behind or from the side. Eventually John does the next very smart thing and gets himself to a spot where the seats are behind him so he can reduce access. Even then, you can see very clearly when one child moves in and pulls at the armor on his gloves. The damage to his gloves ended up being significant enough that they need to be replaced. EVAkura is kindly taking care of that. At some point during one of the other 2 times not shown here, at least one kid hits John with a basketball. He also described a couple of boys who grabbed on to one of his gauntlets.

You will also note that not one child is stopped from doing what they are doing by a parent. This is common. There is a very large misperception that someone in a costume is touchable and that it's just "kids being kids". This is generally not something you often experience at conventions and if you do it certainly isn't on the scale of what this was. This was almost a swarming.

Now, John is 6'11" out of his gear. His size alone would have deterred some of the nonsense. That won't be the same for us regular sized people. John's handler was not trained in how to deal with crowds. We are going to be repeating the information for you so often that you'll soon be able to repeat it word for word but it is vitally important that you have handlers with you that know what to do should a situation like this happen.

Herschend Live is upset about this. They responded to me immediately on Sunday within in an hour of me emailing them and have apologized profusely. I've also apologized repeatedly to John and have reimbursed him for his parking. I am working with the organizers to see if we can continue these promo events or not.

I want to be clear here - this is not anything that someone maliciously or carelessly set us and John up for. The information was gathered as to what was going to happen and that was, for some reason, altered at the event. THIS IS COMMON. However, our education by way of FAQ is going to include what you need to do if the alteration is something you feel puts you in harms way, or is something you physically cannot do without potential damage to your gear or worse, yourself. It is a fine line between advising the Point of Contact what you can and can't do and making it seem like you're a rock star that only wants green M&M's. Having a handler that knows how to deal with this situation would have made a world of difference for John and his gear. And saying that is no slight against John and his handler. This situation was not expected. But, that's on me. I know better and should have anticipated the unexpected. Even for the most experienced people in our group, these events can go sideways, and quickly. As the saying goes, knowledge is power.

SO! Parking - this is the number one thing that often goes sideways. And really this is just the cause of working with one organization but having to deal with the facility organizers at the event. Expect to pay, keep your receipt and we'll deal with the organizers later. If somehow it is worked out that you don't have to pay, that's fabulous, but just be ready for the instances when it doesn't. You have to remember that the parking attendant is so far down the list of people in the know that you aren't going to get anything worked out with them. You can politely address it with your Point of Contact BUT please do so through our member in charge of that event so that only one person talks to the POC about this particular issue, or any issue for that matter.

Handlers: We don't necessarily need a lot of handlers, even with several members, so long as those handlers are trained. They will be our eyes and ears. Everything from watching out for tripping hazards and warning everyone to taking control of a situation like John was in. It doesn't take much more than a firm but polite instruction to not do something along with providing some instruction on how to get photos - forming a line etc. This coming from someone in costume is almost always ignored. However, from someone out of costume - most people will listen and follow. Preferably there should have been a staff member with John but the fact is that most people who do not costume would not think about the situation being dangerous. It has been suggested as well that we have a safe phrase - "my costume is broken". If everyone knows of that safe phrase, the handlers can quickly get that member or members out and then figure out what the problem is. Remember that a situation isn't always seen by everyone else so there is no sense trying to figure it out at that moment. Just get them out and then discuss it.

This situation is very unfortunate but we're choosing to use it as a learning experience, with the help of John.

Watch the video - read everything I've said - and ask questions.

 

FANGS

Commanding Officer
Community Staff
Division Staff
Another VERY important thing to note is how professional John remained the entire time. He didn't lose his cool or yell. He attempted to instruct and moved himself to a better location. He says that in the end he made a lot of kids happy but it was at the cost of some of his armor. This situation was minor and could have been a lot worse. But being minor makes it no less scary or concerning which is why we are bringing it to your attention. No one intended for this to happen. I hope all of you can see just how easily a situation can go sideways and the importance of having properly trained handlers with us.
 

Schankerz

Well-Known Member
Aw man I just feel bad for the guy, I myself would have gotten very nervous with the initial rush of kids at the beginning coming at him, he was smart to move to cover his back so he wasn't surrounded.

Also the kid almost throwing the ball at his head gave me a mini heart attack...
 

FANGS

Commanding Officer
Community Staff
Division Staff
I was chatting with John about this again and the "funny" thing is that if you don't wear a costume and you watch this, you won't see the issue. And that is why you'll almost never have a member of a facility or organizer step in to help. They don't realize we need it. Handlers are definitely always our first line of attack. Make sure they understand and know what to do before the event so they are ready to watch out for this sort of thing. And if that isn't possible for whatever reason, explain to the POC that you need help and see what can be worked out.
 

PerniciousDuke

RCO & BCO
405th Regiment Officer
I was chatting with John about this again and the "funny" thing is that if you don't wear a costume and you watch this, you won't see the issue. And that is why you'll almost never have a member of a facility or organizer step in to help. They don't realize we need it. Handlers are definitely always our first line of attack. Make sure they understand and know what to do before the event so they are ready to watch out for this sort of thing. And if that isn't possible for whatever reason, explain to the POC that you need help and see what can be worked out.
So very true. 100% of the comments on his video (except mine) are about how cool it is. The rest of us are cringing when the little ones run all while wondering what the older ones are plotting.

I really like TurboCharizard's suggestion of having a safe word for your handler, saying "Costume Broke!" no matter the reason and your handler knowing that you want out.
 
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