When fellow Bay Area cosplayer and press BART Boy announced his plans for a Nor-Cal Cosplay Picnic in March at Treasure Island, many looked forward to it. This was one of the first events of such caliber in Nor-Cal. The So-Cal Cosplay Picnics went so well over the few years. How would the Nor-Cal equivalent prevail?

Then March rolled in. And so did bureaucratic red tape that canceled the picnic on its scheduled day. This was definitely not the first impression any event desired. But like a child who is thrown off his/her bike, BART Boy and the organizers brushed the dirt off their shins, cursed a little, and got back on their figurative bikes to bring the Nor-Cal Picnic in June.

June 21, 2008

I woke up to my 9AM alarm promptly at 11AM. Cursing my late awakening, I scrambled for the quickest and most civilian-friendly costume best suited for the weather.

Lupin? No time to style the hair.

Sosuke Sagara? Quick, but guns are not civilian-friendly.

Borat in his green swimsuit thong? Tempting but no.

I reached in my closet and located the Yuki/Kyo summer uniform that Hitori made me years ago. I put it on and quickly noticed that my arms were getting too thick for the sleeves. Remind me to thank my now-expired gym membership and years of heavy lifting at my old job. To keep my pack light and avoid the risk of damage, I left the bracelet and cat ears behind. Due to increased gas prices and in observance of the minimum legal drinking age, I also left behind a case of seasonal product that my current job sells.

If you're a baseball player who needs his bat, you ask for a bat boy. If you want to hear allegations of sexual misconduct by a priest, you ask an altar boy. If you want to find your way around the public transit in San Francisco, you ask BART Boy. Through foresight, BART Boy provided not only detailed driving directions to the Treasure Island picnic site, he provided detailed instructions for taking BART and MUNI to the Treasure Island picnic site. As frosting on the cake, he provided photos of landmarks and transit signs. Considering how all street signs and buses look the same, this was a great help. After a quick ride on BART (with an electrical problem delaying the train), I ran to the transit station and found a waiting Treasure Island bus.

Though I only set foot on the corner of the island holding the picnic, I really liked the view of the mainland across the water and the bridge connecting the two. Upon departing the bus, I ran towards the picnic location. Some guy I passed by took one look at me and said, “Hey, I think your friends are that way. There's a bunch of people in costume.” I guess the “Fruits Basket” summer uniform is distinguishing enough to be spotted as a costume. Mr. Wendell the MC welcomed everyone and introduced BART Boy when he finally arrived after 2PM.

I arrived at 1PM and found the picnic in swing. Cosplayers were chatting away with fellow cosplayers. A watermelon lay smashed; presumably by a bat. Manning one of the grills was Raider 3. You can't have a picnic potluck without a spread of food and drinks. Food was plentiful. Drinks were cold.

One potluck item that I really enjoyed was Patrick's scotch eggs. Scotch eggs are hard boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, breaded, and deep fried. A handmade scotch egg counters the stereotype that British food sucks. I ate about three of them before growing concerned of cholesterol poisoning. Then I ate two more.

I'll admit that the dozens of people who turned out for the Nor-Cal Cosplay Picnic was not as high as the hundreds who turned out for the So-Cal Cosplay Picnic. But in this case, less is more. It's akin to the issue of class sizes in university. Sure, having more seats in a class means being able to teach more students with the same professor. But good luck trying to get some quality time with that professor during office hours. With a smaller setting, I was able to spend better time with fellow attendees. Patrick noted it best when he observed that we were able to talk more during the first hour of the picnic than the entire Fanime weekend.

So what can one do at a cosplay picnic located on Treasure Island? Well, it depends on what you feel like. If you're a pirate or have the skills of one, play Liar's Dice. Rico brought out the Go board. Pikmin Link was holding photoshoots by the shore for those interested. For those inclined, talking among friends and catching up on events was an option. Then there was the foolproof way to entertain yourself and others by acting the fool.

I made my rounds meeting OniCourseMusha, Ryuhayabusadoa2, and the rest of Team Misaki. I then met Janelle, a new face I haven't recalled seeing at a con. Oh, well, these events make it a heck of a lot easier to meet and hopefully remember new people. And if it turns out that I got the name wrong, whoops. There's always the next con.

As usual, the costumes were always a sight to see.

The cool sea breeze began to gave way to heat. But the weather was still tolerable. Compared to the high heat in other parts of the Bay Area, today couldn't have been better.

Once Old Man Mike arrived and set up a sound system and microphone, Wendell and BART Boy were able to grab our attention. BART Boy announced a treasure hunt game. Appropriate, considering that we were on Treasure Island. We divided into teams of four. Of note were Pirate team and Bleach team. After some very unconvincing alteration and augmentation, I fit in with Girl team with Janelle, Ten, and Panda. BART Boy provided clues numerically, regionally, and agriculturally. Naturally, I knew the answers to the clues but no clue putting them together. After heading off in the general direction and deviating, Pirate team began running back with the treasure. But odd controversies and misinterpretation of the rules (Of course, pirates WOULD screw up the rules), resulted in a rematch that resulted in Bleach team winning. Congratulations.

Now for the group photo. Thank to BART Boy for wielding my camera. Watch out, the last thumbnail is full sized.

The picnic took a small sabbatical to prepare for the costume contest. The Bay Area Sailor Moon Musical Group AnimeMyu gave a little performance to warm up the audience. I was on the fence whether to watch the contest or pull a sketch from the usual place I grab sketches and participate. Then I heard a voice from the microphone that went along the lines of, "Tom, get over here."

BART Boy recruited me along with Rico and Cherryteagirl to judge sketches from the costume contest while others judged the costumes. We all tried to encourage anyone in costume to participate. The entertaining Wendell MC'd the contest. Participants took an impromptu interview from Wendell and performed a sketch if they had one. Pirates, Indiana Jones, farmers, and Lolis were all present.

Costumes/sketches that stuck in my head included OniCourseMusha's interview regarding his DDR pad/soda machine, Code Gaess costumes, Maya Fey, and the Bleach group. They won. This was a fun and friendly costume contest that I was glad to help judge.

The conclusion of the costume contest symbolized the conclusion of the picnic. It was a fun, simple event with quality food and quality time with fellow cosplayers and anime fans. I was ready to call it a day after grabbing a bag full of leftovers to take home. Adding to his repertoire, Wendell compacted the hell out of the trash. Patrick whipped out some sparkling grape juice to toast the end.

Though the day was over, the night was coming. People were making post picnic plans among friends. BART Boy announced a trip to Milpitas Golfland. Ryuhayabusadoa2 offered me a ride back to my car at the Fremont BART station and I accepted. That was a very nice gesture and I thank you.

After boarding my car and a detour to Q-Cup for tea and change, I reached Golfland to see BART Boy and others. We played the plethora of dancing games, music games, fighting games, and ticket games. After a macho/idiotic hammer strength competition (I got second at 794), those remaining embarked on a miniature golf run. Four teams of two made for a long game complete with holes in one, nice putts, and a lot of falling over and cursing over how poorly the shot went. Once we finally cleared the course, we called it a night before management decided to throw us out.

All in all, a nice day off after a long week of work. Thank you to BART Boy and all attendees for making this event happen. Clips are online here. In case any were wondering as I probably forgot to introduce myself during the picnic, I am Tom, aka K_Valentine on Livejournal and K Valentine in general. Nice to meet you.

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