Finally got to Pittsburgh in the afternoon. The first change I noticed was Penn Avenue had become one-way to make room for bike lanes. That screwed me up a bit because I didn't know about that beforehand and had to take a detour around several blocks to get to the Grant Street Transportation Center red garage entrance, my usual parking location. The second change I saw was the new Westin lobby. It does look a lot more up-to-date, with modern fixtures, a green wall (with live plants) running way up, and a new lounge/office area. (They moved the Westin gift shop towards the back to make room for that.)
And finally, I saw the new smart elevators. These turn the notion of requesting a floor on its head. Instead of waiting until you get into the elevator before pushing a floor button, you have to tell it the floor you want and then it assigns you an elevator. There are no floor buttons inside the elevator. One obvious plus is this puts an end to that old prank of pushing every button in an elevator. The system can also optimize elevator assignments by putting people going to the same floor on the same elevator so it makes fewer stops. The downside is it isn't completely foolproof. People can make mistakes requesting the wrong floor or requesting the same floor multiple times because they forgot the elevator assignment or thought it wasn't coming. There is no way to undo a request, so that could end up calling more elevators unnecessarily. Also, the elevator assumes a certain number of people can fit, which could be way off if one or more have luggage carts. (A Westin bellhop told me about this problem.)
This year, I shared a room with Marauder. Gatorman couldn't make it. However, we didn't really see each other much after the first day because he had staff duties and I had events to get to. Still, it was good that we got to go to one dinner and one breakfast together.
On Friday, I was in part of Sheppy Momma's fursuit music video. I never came across the announcement so I had no idea she was doing one this Anthrocon, but I happened to see the group coming down the escalator, so I joined in.
On Friday afternoon, I took part in the "Recess" fursuit games. These are the lighter, non-competitive version of the main fursuit games on Sunday. I noticed though that two of the games from Recess were also in the main fursuit games, so perhaps they were using Recess to beta-test those games. Anyway, in one of the games, you had to throw a beanie toy into a basket. Since I was one of the last to go, I studied how everyone else made the throw to see what worked. When it came to my turn, I got it on my first try using the overhead throw method. I knew that would maximize my chances but it was still a surprise because I didn't think my aim was that good.
Most of Saturday was spent on the masquerade and fursuit parade. Early in the morning, I went to masquerade rehearsal. I was in Khord Kitty's skit this time. It wasn't an easy dance sequence for me, especially since I have the timing of a stopped clock, so it took much practice to get it right but our group did the skit in front of the masquerade director and it was accepted.
In the afternoon, I went to the fursuit parade. As in previous years, we did the group photo in Hall A, the staging area, before starting the parade. There were 1460 fursuiters in the parade, so it actually took quite a long while just to get everyone out of Hall A. The parade route went through the Dealers' Room. There was a big change this year though. They added an outdoor section to the parade route so the Pittsburgh public can watch. It was amazing. The crowd gathered under the DLCC and around 10th and Penn was estimated at around 5000 people! As I was parading I held out one paw and I must say I've never high-fived so many people in a row like that before. It was a good crowd, who cheered us on as we went under the DLCC, rounded the corner, and went the back the other side to reenter the DLCC.
Saturday night was the masquerade itself. Our group practiced the skit a bit more while waiting in the green room. Then we got on stage and did it. I've been in a few skits in past years, so I wasn't nervous. Because of the lighting, one can't actually see the audience anyway. We were told later that ours was the skit to which Uncle Kage gave a standing ovation.
Sunday morning was the first chance all weekend for me to browse the Dealer Room. I didn't see anything I really wanted but I got some info on a new convention and I entered contests / surveys at booths that were running those.
The fursuit games were in the afternoon. Team assignments were random and this time, I was in the orange team. Two games were imported from Recess. The relay race was exactly the same. The beanie throw became the (foam) hammer throw. I wondered if my overhead throw technique would work on a foam hammer too. Actually, it did and once again, I surprised myself by getting it into the basket on my first try! Our team did pretty well in charades too, getting 11 words in 90 seconds. My word, "cut", was really easy though. I merely had to make a cutting motion with one arm. Musical chairs had a new twist. Some members of the audience were asked to stand in a circle around the game area. When the music stopped, we had to touch one of the audience before going to a chair. This was pretty clever because it kept everyone from hovering around the chairs. I lasted only a handful of rounds myself but an orange team member made it to second place. The big surprise was when they announced the winners. The orange team had done really well and got twice as many points as the second place team! So we each got a first place prize.
Sunday night was the post-con Dead Dog Dance. I wasn't at the dance much because the Westin lobby was far more entertaining. It was an everchanging sea of people and fursuiters, like Grand Central Station except with furries. Anyway, the party ended at midnight but by then, I was well past ready to call it a night and rest for the long trip the next day.
Monday morning: time to pack up and say our last goodbyes. I actually made it to Breezewood a bit early for the afternoon snack, so I hiked the Abandoned Turnpike a bit to get some geocaches that were a bit farther in than where I stopped previously. The caches were made from old VW bus parts and I thought those were rather neat.